Friday conversation: Vaughn Telemaque

There were few bright spots in Miami’s 45-17 loss to Florida State last weekend, but sophomore safety Vaughn Telemaque had his first career interception in the third quarter. He has 23 tackles this season, and I caught up with him earlier this week to see what went wrong against the Noles and what the team’s outlook is heading into the Duke game. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

What’s the mentality like right now after that loss?

Vaughn Telemaque: The mentality is to stay focused and get back on track. Handle the business that’s supposed to be taken care of, get that mentality of winning in big-time games and actually coming out with a good outcome.

Were you surprised by FSU’s margin of victory and what happened? At what point was anyone like, 'Whoa, we have to turn this thing around here?'

VT: That was pretty much the whole game. We needed a spark, something to go ahead and turn this whole game around and just have a tremendous comeback, but it never ended up happening. That pretty much sums it up in a nutshell. I don’t really want to mention too much about it anymore because it’s over. We’ve got to go into the next game and win out. We’ll have another chance to have big-time games and make sure we’ll have a better outcome than that.

OK then let’s spin it forward. What do you guys have to do in the second half of the season that you didn’t do?

VT: We just have to have really somebody who steps up and says they’re going to take it on for the team. I don’t think there’s really a spark like I’ve been saying to make sure everybody was on the same page. Even though it was a rivalry game, we just need somebody who’s going to say, ‘Go ahead and give it all you’ve got or don’t give nothing at all.’ We don’t need nobody out there who’s not going to give a full effort and make sure that if we’re at the lowest quarter or whatever it is that nobody gives up and nobody quits in there. Everybody has to be on the same page and ready to fight to the end.

Why do you think nobody has stepped up to that role?

VT: A lot of people have roles, but nobody has that main role. There’s captains on the team, but nobody out of those guys has said they’re going to be the ones that when they say it’s going to happen, or when they say it the whole team turns around. I don’t know if the team needs to find it within ourselves, or whatever the case is, but I feel that might be the best place for us to find a leader.

What opportunities do you feel are still ahead for you guys? Obviously you can win the ACC championship, but are your best opportunities behind you from a national standpoint?

VT: Not at all, we’ll never look at it like that. Once you do look at it like that, then you’ve lost already. You’ve lost the whole mindset and you’re losing everything you’re playing football for. We have a great schedule ahead of us. We have Duke this week and then we have the week after and the week after. Our whole process was to play each game like it was going to be our last game. Play each game like it was a fresh start. We’re going to go out and prove to everybody we’re a team that’s supposed to be reckoned with. That’s going to stay our mentality and that’s what we strive for and that’s what we want to go out and do.