After last season’s back-to-back losses to Virginia Tech and Tennessee that broke the Hurricanes’ 34-game regular season win streak and kept the ‘Canes out of the Sugar Bowl, quarterback Brock Berlin experienced fan-wrath firsthand.
Despite what was in some cases extremely personal criticism, Berlin said that he has been able to keep his focus.
“For me, I just don’t listen to any of that stuff,” he said. “I know what type of player I am and what I can do and I just go out there and perform.”
His performance last season led to speculation that his job as starting quarterback was in jeopardy. Berlin said he remained positive that he would ultimately be retained as starter.
“In my mind I definitely felt like I was going to be the starter,” he said. “I really feel like I’ve learned a lot from last year and I’m excited about this year.”
Recent comments by Head Coach Larry Coker seem to indicate that while the decision to retain Berlin as starter is one that he’s confident in, Berlin’s performance is going to be observed just to make sure.
According to a March 24 article in The Miami Herald, Coker is quoted as saying, “Brock is the starter for now, but we’re going to evaluate every practice.”
Berlin feels like this puts him under pressure to constantly prove himself, but adds that this helps keep him focused on what he’s out there to do.
“I want to come out and perform well at every practice and learn from things,” he said. “All I can do is give it my best and go from there.”
For Berlin, faith in God is an important part of his life that strengthens his ability to handle the tough times he encountered last season. He also feels his faith plays a central role in game preparation and his outlook as leader of the team.
“My whole life revolves around my faith in God and family,” said Berlin. “I lean hard on that and ask the Lord to help me get through things.”
Having his abilities doubted is nothing new to Berlin. Almost from the beginning of his time as a member of the Hurricanes, people have been critical of him. For a brief time that criticism was put to rest by the ‘Canes’ come-from-behind win over the Florida Gators last September.
Some have said that the victory over FSU in the FedEx Orange Bowl last January put to rest similar doubts following last season’s losses. Berlin doesn’t spend any time pondering how each victory is viewed, but he remains focused on being the best player he can be.
“We won the game and that’s all that matters,” he said. “I’m out here to play and play to win – that’s what we do.”
Berlin has sometimes found Ken Dorsey to be a very tough act to follow.
“You’re always going to be compared to the previous guy, that’s the way the ball bounces,” he said. “He’s a great guy and I learned a lot from him.”
Berlin added that Dorsey contacted him during the low point of last season to try to give him friendly support.
“He called and we talked over some things,” he said. “He’s been a big help for me.”
Berlin has kept a positive, focused attitude in anticipation of the 2004 season.
“We’re going to go out there and give it 100 percent and win,” he said. “Our main goal is to win every game and win a national championship and that’s what we’re aiming to do.”
Scott Wacholtz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.