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Erickson, Miami lower their expectations

Craig Erickson isn't expecting an invitation to the Heisman Trophy announcement in his mailbox. Maybe some hate mail instead.

This hasn't been the season Erickson or his Miami Hurricane teammates hoped for. Hopes for a repeat national title and a Heisman for Erickson went up in smoke with last Saturday's loss to Notre Dame.

The No. 8 Hurricanes (4-2) and Erickson have entered the damage-control phase of their season and are readjusting their sights.

"Well, we feel we still have a lot to play for," said Erickson. "We still want to play in a New Year's Day bowl. We've still got things that we want to accomplish. We'd like to be a Top 5 team."

But 1990 will be remembered by many as a year of unfinished business for Erickson and the Hurricanes.

A veteran returning cast on offense, a Sugar Bowl MVP award and the exposure afforded Miami quarterbacks made Erickson a front-runner for the Heisman when the season started. The senior had a chance to do something no other Hurricane quarterback had done _ win a national title (or two) and win the Heisman.

The dream was nice while it lasted, but it didn't last too long. First Erickson was outdueled by Brigham Young's Ty Detmer in the opener; then, the focus of Miami's offense shifted to the running game. The Hurricanes' showdown last week was his best chance to re-enter the Heisman race with the attention of the nation on South Bend, Ind., but Erickson's 355 yards passing were relegated to the background by a fourth-quarter interception.

Erickson has consistently downplayed the Heisman race.

"We're concerned with coming back as a team. I think it would be selfish to think about (the Heisman) now," said Erickson. "That's something I've never really concerned myself with. I've said all along that awards take care of themselves if we take care of business."

And the Hurricanes haven't by Miami standards. The two regular-season losses are their most since 1984. Miami athletic director Sam Jankovich recently joked that some Hurricane fans think winning the national title is something you just do like brushing your teeth. Well, some of them don't like Miami's latest checkup.

"I think our fans our great. Sure, they expect a lot from us. That's why you come to Miami," said Erickson. "But the other fans that are sending us (hate) letters and complaining, well, I think they're missing something. We've got a good team here."

Erickson hasn't made dramatic improvement from last season, his first as a starter. His numbers haven't wowed pro scouts, who rate him as a late-first-rounder or second-rounder.

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