Berlin’s second half proves doubters wrong

Brock Berlin claims that he did not hear the fans booing him as he entered the field during the third quarter of Saturday night’s 38-33 victory over the Florida Gators. There are three possible scenarios here: a. he is lying, b. he is deaf, or c. he is simply the most focused person in the planet.
Whatever Berlin’s reasoning was for not hearing the boos, or even if he did hear them, the junior quarterback became a different person from that point of the game forward. All of a sudden Berlin went from looking out-of-sync, erratic, and pathetic, to firing the ball with urgency, spreading the ball around the field, and throwing timing patterns perfectly.
This performance was so critical to Berlin’s career on so many levels. Obviously a loss to his old team would have been absolutely demoralizing, but it also could have lost him his job as a starter. In one game Berlin went from Kenny Kelly to Jim Kelly.
If you look at Berlin’s halftime numbers, it makes you wonder where the resurgence came from. Going 8 for 16 for 62 yards and no touchdowns should belong on Craig Krenzel’s stat line, not that of the quarterback of the University of Miami. With all of the weapons the ‘Canes have on offense, it is shocking when a signal-caller throws for less than 300 yards.
What Berlin wasn’t used to was being asked to win a game with his arm. A quarterback like Krenzel is asked simply not to lose a game, whereas Berlin has to have a big game for the Hurricanes to be victorious. Now Berlin knows the enormous pressure Ken Dorsey felt during his reign.
What makes this game so shocking to people like yours truly is that for two-and-a-half quarters Berlin looked like he should be holding a clipboard somewhere. The jeers rained down after Berlin threw arguably one of the worst passes in organized football history when he mistook Johnny Lamar of UF for a wide-open Hurricane, leading to the 33-10 deficit with 8:45 left in the third quarter. When Berlin came out for the next series, he wore his heart out on his sleeve and starting firing the ball instead of holding back.
Most people were calling for Derrick Crudup after the Lamar interception. It certainly didn’t help for Berlin that the spring quarterback competition was very controversial and almost locker-room dividing. Crudup must have been getting ready at this point in the game.
I’ll admit that I also wanted Berlin out after that pass. I almost vomited up the warm soda I was drinking when I saw the wayward throw. But give all of the credit to our head coach Larry Coker, who had the guts to stick with his troubled quarterback despite the fans calling for his head.
It is decisions like staying with Berlin that make me realize how good of a football coach Coker is. I can honestly say that I don’t think any other coach that wouldn’t have pulled the trigger after that throw. Coker put his own reputation on the line to prove his loyalty to his players, and when I saw Berlin and Coker embrace in the pressroom after the game, I wanted to bust out a Kodak camera.
What makes Berlin even more likable is how humble he is, preferring to give credit to his teammates and coaches instead of himself.
“I really leaned on my teammates and they made huge plays,” Berlin said. “Those guys are the best teammates in the whole world and they just stepped up and did an incredible job.”
None of this is a knock on Derrick Crudup, by the way. I am one of Crudup’s biggest fans and feel that he could start anywhere else in the country. I also would have put him in after the Lamar interception, and I would have been wrong.
The football Sports Information Director, Doug Walker, summed things up best in the fourth quarter when he turned to a couple of us and said, “we may not win this game, but now we know for sure that we have a winner at quarterback.”