Miami Hurricanes Don't Want To Be The 'U of Old'
By Eric Russell
It's time for Miami to "shut up and put up." Hurricanes linebacker Denzel Perryman said so.
There had to be a bit of nostalgia for some football fans when the ACC predictions were announced on Monday. Florida State and Miami were picked by the media for a showdown in the ACC Championship Game, which could only mean one thing. The comparisons to the Miami of old will creep back up. They came last year after the Hurricanes jumped out to a 7-0 start. That was followed by three straight losses to Florida State, Virginia Tech and Duke. The latter two defeats essentially cost them a shot at the ACC title game.
Now, high praise is being heaped on a Miami team with a new quarterback and a bitter taste in its mouth from last season's 36-9 loss to Louisville, the team the Hurricanes will start their Coastal Division championship run against. The accolades will undoubtedly bring along the talk of Miami returning to the form of the dominant programs of the past. But the question remains: Do they believe the hype?
The answer is complicated. It's yes and no.
Head coach Al Golden let it be known at the ACC Kickoff that he certainly doesn't want them to believe it, and neither does Perryman, their star linebacker. Although both would like to see the Hurricanes play with enough swagger and intensity to turn the hype into reality.
"We've got to respect the past, but we've got to represent who we want to be," Golden said. "We can't be someone else. We've got to be our brand. We've got to have our identity."
Golden wants his team to forget being named the favorite. Defending Coastal Division champion Duke, along with Virginia Tech and North Carolina can make equally strong cases. Golden wants his team to take it one game at a time.
"This team needs to learn to ignore the noise, block out everything on the outside like I do," he said. "Don't listen to anything, ignore it all and get a bunker mentality and stay in it. Take every opponent on its merit and what they do well, and forget about the rest of it. We've got to turn this season into 12 one-game missions. That's it. We have not done that yet. That's a great challenge for our program."
Perryman summed it up by alluding to what former Miami stars like Johnathan Vilma told him about playing the game with intensity. Vilma was a member of the 2001 national championship team. While the Hurricanes don't necessarily want to be like teams from the past, they are open to learning from them.
"We practice so hard, we compete so hard that we just need to take that same edge onto the field," Perryman said. "Just talking to Vilma and D.J. Williams, they were telling us they played the same way they practiced."
Perryman doesn't want to be measured against teams of the past any longer. He'd rather see his Hurricanes in a title game. He was already practicing Golden's suggestion of ignoring outside factors long ago. He said he even tries not to spend too much time on Twitter. He often deactivates his account for long periods to avoid social media. On the field he doesn't want to see his teammates creeping into complacency or worrying about measuring up to some cherished ideal of yesteryear.
"Guys just need to handle their business like grown men, just do your job," he said. "Talent isn't a question. Guys just need to be where they need to be. That's something that everybody talks about. 'Oh we're bringing The U back, we're bringing The U back.' I'm like, O.K., time to shut up and put up then."