Kelly Jennings will be playing his final home game of his illustrious career wearing the number 22 jersey this Saturday against Virginia. He has taken on the mantra of the University of Miami's yearbook video in 1987, the year the ‘Canes won the second National Championship.
That's what Jennings said the ‘Canes have to do following the demoralizing loss Saturday.
"It's something we have to do, or we'll lose again. It's over. We lost. We have to press on," Jennings said.
It's something that is easier said than done with a team that is fairly young on both sides of the ball. However, the defense will be losing senior starters Jennings, Orien Harris, Roger McIntosh, Thomas Carroll, and Marcus Maxey. Not to mention coming off a loss that crippled their chances of going to a BCS bowl and a potential National Championship.
Jennings doesn't want to end his career with a thud. He will make sure his teammates prop their heads back and get ready to play against the Cavaliers come 3:30 p.m. at the Orange Bowl Saturday.
"I think that's something that me and Brandon (Meriweather) and some of the older defensive backs have to stress to the younger defensive backs and the whole defense that we have to get things corrected," Jennings said.
But the reality is that it won't come on the defensive side of the bal. The defense remains the best in the nation in yards and second in scoring defense behind Alabama and tied with Virginia Tech.
The wake up needs to come on the offense that's struggled all year. That won't stop Jennings from taking on the leadership role that he's had all season as one of the few seniors with any real experience coming into this season.
"Being a senior, this is my last go round," Jennings said. "We were basically doing the same things since we lost to Florida State. We have to continue to press on. We'll look at all the film and just correct all the things we did wrong. The little things killed us."
The little things hurt the defense as much as it did the offense. The things that especially hurt the defense were the silly penalties that cost the ‘Canes first downs and kept drives alive against Georgia Tech that allowed them to eventually score.
"One thing we press for is to not give up penalties, not give up big plays," Jennings said. "Those penalties hurt us. A couple of them were on third down. We would have been off the field. It happened. We tried to play aggressive. That's the way we play football. Aggressive. That's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes."
What could have been done differently to avoid such a disappointing loss to Georgia Tech?
"You never really can look back and say whatever about what you could have done. You can't do the what ifs," Jennings said. "That's how we play. That's how we have our swagger."
Credit was given where it was due; however, without question, the frustration was felt thick in the locker room following the loss. Jennings has learned in his years wearing the orange and green you can't dwell or the next game will be no different as the ‘Canes dropped back-to-back games the last two years because they didn't pick their heads up following bad losses.
"We always expect to win. That's how we always do it," Jennings said. "We expect to shut them down. Unfortunately, we weren't able to do it against Georgia Tech. We'll go back and review the film. We'll let it go and press on to Virginia."
Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat is a Staff Writer with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at email@example.com
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