Through six games, Sam Shields has just six catches for 51 yards and no touchdowns and he was the talk of a key penalty play against Florida State last week when he was the 12th man on the field on an important play late in the game.
Instead of tanking it and getting down on himself, Shields went to work. That seems to be what Randy Shannon-coached kids do. They put aside their pride and go to work, trying to help the team in any way they can. When his role was changed a little bit, getting to work was what Shields did the week leading up to the UCF game last week. It paid off, as Shields had an excellent game on special teams for the Hurricanes.
"I had concentrated on what I was supposed to do," Shields said. "I was on special teams. I worked my tail off on special teams and did what I was supposed to do. I'm staying focused."
Shields said he used last week's rough performance as a personal challenge to himself to step up and make a name for himself on special teams against the Knights.
"I didn't take it hard or anything," he said. "Last week was just a lack of focus. I just had to step up my game and work harder."
After seeing action in Miami's first five games of the season in the wide receiver rotation, Shields didn't see a single offensive snap against UCF on Saturday. He talked about that.
"It's a competition every day you step out on that field," he said. "Some guys work hard, some don't. I have an opportunity to be on the field and helping out on special teams is what I did. Its the same game. You just gotta go out and compete and stay focused. I gotta work hard in practice to get back in the rotation."
Shannon made it clear that what Shields did on Saturday doesn't represent his new role. He's still in the mix with the wide receivers.
"We're never going to give up on any of these guys," Shannon said. "We're going to keep coaching them. Sam takes all the reps in practice like he's a starter. That doesn't change and he knows it. We know Sam should be productive. But he's not right now (at receiver). Does that mean that Sam is a bad football player? No. He just hasn't come around yet. And that's how you have to look at it."
So what was the reasoning behind limiting Shields to just special teams duty this past week?
"The thing you want is productivity," Shannon said. "And his productivity is not doing well right now. We have to coach him and get him to be productive. The guys that are productive you just have to go with."
It's a good thing Shields focused on special teams play this week because he came up with some big plays for the Canes, including a big hit on Joe Burnett and a fumble recovery that led to Miami's second touchdown. Shields talked about the fumble recovery.
"I knew I had to put the pressure on," Shields said. "We scouted it all week. He's a great return guy. I just did my job and headed towards the ball and scoooped it up."
Many believe it was a play from earlier in the game that caused the fumble when Shields hammered Burnett a little early and drew a penalty.
"I was right there," Shiels said of that play. "The dude behind me pushed me as I was going for it."
With the strong special teams performance now behind him, Shields will look to get back into the wide receiver rotation as well.
"When we go out (tomorrow) Sam will be with the twos getting reps," Shannon said. "He just has to stay focused, that's all."
Shields knows what he must do.
"I had to make an impact on special teams and (now) I gotta work hard to get back into the (WR) rotation."