As much as Shaq Quarterman wanted to leave the field after a 37-3 loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, the sophomore linebacker couldn’t tear his eyes from the celebration.
“We’re shaking hands with the Clemson guys and I just had to watch them celebrate that championship because we were so close,” said Quarterman, who ranks second on the Hurricanes with 76 tackles. “Just for next year, I just had to put that in my thoughts.”
As Miami (11-2) prepares for Saturday’s Orange Bowl against Wisconsin (12-1), Quarterman and the Hurricanes are confident in erasing their recent defeats to Pittsburgh and Clemson, the latter of which provided the unfamiliar feeling that comes with a blowout loss.
The 38 points allowed to Clemson on Dec. 2 were the Hurricanes’ most since Virginia Tech scored 37 on Oct. 20, 2016. Miami allowed at least 30 points only twice last season, both coming in consecutive losses to Virginia Tech and Notre Dame last October.
Miami has not allowed over 40 points in a game since a 59-21 loss to North Carolina in November 2015, the third game under then-interim Hurricanes coach Larry Scott.
“The track record shows, yeah, we lost these two games and people may say, ‘oh, Miami is this and that’, but we never (fell off),” Quarterman said. “We also lost four games last season in October, all four (of our losses that year), and ended up winning four straight. We just believe in each other.”
The loss to Clemson, which gave the Tigers the ACC Championship and knocked Miami out of contention for the College Football Playoff, continued to haunt Quarterman in the following days. Through Wednesday, Quarterman admitted to watching the game “at least five times by myself.”
Since the loss, Quarterman has been able to get a “definitely needed” layoff and meet with some of the team’s new recruits. Quarterman praised his teammates for setting an “exciting” mood in practice after not playing for nearly a month.
“Playing football with your brothers is a feeling like no other,” Quarterman said. “The tackles, the sacks, just the celebration. The Turnover Chain especially is amazing.”
While the Orange Bowl isn’t the Rose Bowl or the Sugar Bowl — the two venues that will host the College Football Playoff semifinals on Jan. 1 — Quarterman is ready to take down the Badgers on Saturday night in front of the Hurricanes’ home crowd.
“I believe in my guys to the fullest,” Quarterman said. “I know that I wouldn’t have gotten on the bus to come down here to this nice hotel if I didn’t know we could win this game and I know they feel the same.”