“Self-inflicted wounds” was the theme of Miami’s frustrating, disappointing 2017 college football season, so when RedHawks’ coach Chuck Martin dredged up the phrase while analyzing their loss on Saturday to Marshall, it might’ve set off alarm bells.
The fifth-year coach doesn’t consider the 35-28 loss to the Thundering Herd a harbinger for the rest of the 2018 season.
“I think last year’s team was different,” Martin said . “We’re not concerned about that. There was nothing on the tape that we really had to correct. They could self-correct. It was a very disappointing day. Watching the tape left us more disappointed. There are certain areas we’ve got to clean up, but there are a lot of good things to build on.”
“We were pointing out to guys, ‘You had seven opportunities to make plays. How many did you make? You have 40 blocks to make. How many did you make?’ It’s a matter of guys figuring out what they need to do.”
Cleaning up minor mistakes is this week’s theme as the RedHawks resume practice for the annual Victory Bell grudge match with Cincinnati, scheduled for 8 p.m. at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati. The Bearcats opened their season by traveling west to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and upsetting UCLA, 26-17, completely befuddling the ESPN “College Game Day” panel of “experts,” all of which picked the Bruins to win.
That’s the second of a challenging three-game season-opening gantlet – described by Martin as a “three-game juggernaut” – for the RedHawks, who are scheduled to play at Big Ten Minnesota on Sept. 15. That leaves them little time to absorb and apply the lessons learned from losing to Marshall.
“The tape was instructive,” said fifth-year senior quarterback Gus Ragland, who finished 25-of-46 for 357 yards and three touchdowns against Marshall. “There are a handful of bad plays we need to eradicate and good plays we can build on.”
One problem against the Thundering Herd was a slugging offense that produced just 28 yards on two first-quarter possessions while Marshall was building a 14-0 lead.
“One point of emphasis will be coming out on a sharper note,” Ragland said, also pointing out penalties that left the offense facing first- or second-and-15. “We were shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Defensive holding on a third down of Marshall’s first possession and pass interference on a second down of the second possession helped the Thundering Herd maintain their early scoring drives. Safety De’Andre Montgomery expects playing the ball will be a focal point for the defense in practice this week.
“The coaches are going to emphasize on trusting your eyes,” said the senior, who also let “self-inflicted wounds” creep into his comments. “It comes down to eye control.”
“Our mental effort and discipline – we didn’t have good execution in the first half,” Martin said. “We missed opportunities to get off the field on defense. We didn’t execute.”
The RedHawks survived Saturday’s hard-hitting game without any major injuries, Martin said.
“I don’t think there are many guys who felt great on Sunday, but there were no long-standing injuries,” he said. “There’ll be some guys who won’t practice on Tuesday, but they’ll be ready to tee it up on Saturday.”
Montgomery agreed with Martin’s assessment that this season isn’t last season.
“We’re not rattled,” he said. “We’re sticking together. We’re confident that there’s nothing we can’t handle.”