Athan Kaliakmanis is Disgusted with Himself; Wants All Blame for UNC Loss

NCAA Football: Minnesota at North Carolina
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Athan Kaliakmanis was absolutely brutal in the Minnesota Gophers 31-13 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday. It’s one of those games where the box score (11/29, 133 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT), tells a rather accurate story.

The redshirt sophomore QB made the correct reads, for the most part. Unfortunately, he was rarely on target. But this isn’t about how poorly Athan played this weekend. If you want to read that blog, it’s right here:

Read More: Minnesota Gophers Can’t Pass (Again)

Worst performance of Athan Kaliakmanis’ football career?

This blog is about what happened after the game, when Minnesota’s young QB1 sat down with media, following what he called the worst performance of his career. It’s clear why PJ Fleck loves this kid so much. It’s hard not to, even after performances like Saturday’s.

Athan’s interview begins at the 07:14 mark and is transcribed below, in parts.

“I didn’t play as well as I wanted to play. It’s probably the worst game I’ve ever played. I can’t wait to learn {from it] but I fell short today and I let my teammates down.”

Athan shoulders full blame for UNC loss

It’s difficult to be harder on Athan than he is on himself in this interview. The Antioch, IL native wove in praise for everyone else around him, including coaches, teammates and the opponent.

Before, during and after his compliments for others, Kaliakmanis continually threw himself under the bus, taking full blame for the offense’s lack of production through the air, repeating multiple times that he was the reason for his team losing, something that clearly doesn’t sit well.

“I think most of [our] missed opportunities were my fault. Just not executing. I think most of the things that we called were all there. Coaches had a great game plan. It just came down to me executing and I failed to execute. I’m very hard on myself. That’s on me.”

“I think North Carolina is a very good team. They played well on offense, they played well on defense. I just, you know, it just once again comes down to me executing as a player. There were things there that I missed. And those things, you know, I don’t miss… but I did today.”

“I feel like everybody showed up but me, honestly. I didn’t show up. It’s the bottom line. So, I’m really proud of the guys. I thought I had a clean pocket, I thought Darius played extremely well… I mean, everything was there. It’s like, once again, I just came up very short so that falls on me.”

What about the cramps?

One media member even gave Athan a chance to give himself a break. He left the game at the end of the 2nd quarter because he was cramping up. He wasn’t the only one, either. Fleck lamented the cramping problem, during his postgame presser, and appeared outwardly disgusted by how big of an issue it was throughout the contest.

Kaliakmanis was in no mood for excuses, though. He was going to accept a lifeline Saturday evening. He played like crap, he knows he played like crap, he expects to play better going forward and he’s willing to change whatever he has to, in order to make it happen.

“Yeah, but I just got to hydrate better. The cramps really didn’t matter, it didn’t affect my play cuz I was playing bad regardless. Whatever I did before the game, you know, or during the game… I just got to change cause I can’t allow that to happen again.”

Being a leader has to start on the field, eventually.

I’m very interested to see how the Gophers’ young QB1 plays over the next two weeks, vs some lesser competition. Yes, he won me back over with this press conference. I love nothing more than a teammate throwing himself on a media grenade the way Athan did after this weekend’s L.

But shouldering all the blame and covering for your teammates/coaches will only satisfy fans for so long. The young man said it best. He has to start playing better, from this moment forward. We know he is a good kid with great leadership qualities. But he has a lot to prove on the field, at this point.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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