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Miami Hurricanes

Can Hurricanes “re-growth” start at chilly Pinstripe Bowl?

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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The Miami Hurricanes won’t play the 2018 Pinstripe Bowl on a sheet of ice at Yankee Stadium in New York, but this game against the Wisconsin Badgers is not important for its exact details. It is more striking for its richness of metaphorical identity.

The Pinstripe Bowl is a rare thing in the 39-game college football bowl world: a cold-weather bowl.

Nashville (Music City) isn’t necessarily warm. El Paso (Sun) can be snowy. The Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit is a dome game. Only a handful of bowl games are played in cold weather, and the Pinstripe — in New York — is one of the more reliably cold postseason games of every college football December. Game time temperature expected to be around 40 degrees in the Bronx Thursday afternoon.

The reality of Miami’s bowl game shows how far the Hurricanes fell this year. Every significant bowl game is played in a warm-weather location or a dome: Fiesta (suburban Phoenix), Cotton (a suburban Dallas dome), Peach (a dome in Atlanta), Sugar (a dome in New Orleans), Orange (Miami), and Rose (suburban Los Angeles). If you’re not playing in a warm-weather or domed bowl game, you aren’t a member of the nation’s elite for that particular season.

Playing a cold-weather bowl in late December isn’t automatically a humiliation or a demotion for a team. The likes of Northwestern, Iowa State, Syracuse, Duke, and other teams which have played in recent Pinstripe Bowls took enormous satisfaction from being in this game — sometimes as an end unto itself, sometimes as a hoped-for catapult to a bigger season the next year.

For Miami, the only time a Pinstripe Bowl bid is acceptable is when the program is trying to rebuild, as it needed to do in the late 1990s under Butch Davis or at the start of new coaching tenures in this highly unsettled period in the post-Ken Dorsey era. In general, the Hurricanes have no business playing in a cold-weather bowl game. The fact that they are playing a team which is comfortable in cold weather — Wisconsin — only adds to the pervasive awareness of how much the Canes are out of their element in this contest.

A warm-weather team — which memorably turned into icicles last year in Pittsburgh against the Panthers — has to go to a cold-weather location against a cold-weather opponent in a fourth-tier bowl game. It is miserable on so many levels for this team, an inhabitant of South Florida’s lush environment, palm trees, and beautiful beaches…

.. and we haven’t even mentioned Manny Diaz yet.

Recruits are de-committing. A popular and talented assistant — arguably the crown jewel of the staff — is about to leave, ironically to a Temple program located in another city which gets very cold this time of year. Mark Richt now knows his defense might not be as formidable in 2019 as it otherwise would have been, which means his offense might have to compensate to an even greater degree. The need for Richt to fix his offense next season just became that much more acute.

The fact that the Pinstripe Bowl is situated against a backdrop of considerable adversity only makes this cold-weather trek that much more uncomfortable — and yet fitting — for Miami. The Canes are in a city they didn’t want to visit for the holiday. They have no momentum and no tangible sense that their offense is on the cusp of a breakthrough. They lost Manny Diaz to Temple. Their recruiting situation is precarious, to say the least.

No, the Yankee Stadium field isn’t a sheet of ice — not literally — but it might as well be.

In this cold, harsh, cruel environment — on this hard ground where it is difficult for roots to go deep into the soil — can Miami plant a seed which will grow into a strong and durable plant? Brought low and humiliated, can the Hurricanes start anew and begin rebuilding far away from home, carrying what they do in New York to spring ball, and the time of year when plants are supposed to blossom? When everything is miserable and barren and marked by the dead of winter, can Miami football create new life?

We are about to find out.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

Miami Hurricanes

Will Canes turn things around in home opener?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The excitement behind first year Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz is quickly losing steam as the once ACC powerhouse has now found themselves as an unranked, middle of the pack team in their conference with an 0-2 record. Granted, they have had some bigger tests than most teams in the first two weeks of play, but still, there is too much talent on this team to have had such a lackluster start.

So, today has to be the day for Diaz to see some success as he heads into his first home game as the Canes head coach. Even if it’s against an FCS team, it will give the Canes the boost they need to turn the season around. They have a lot of young talent who can certainly bring Miami back to its state of prominence and there is still a lot to be hopeful for as they head into their first kickoff in Hard Rock Stadium this season.

History is certainly on Miami’s side. In their all time series with Bethune-Cookman University, Miami has a perfect 4-0 mark against the Wildcats, winning all four games by 3o points or more. Also, Miami has not lost a home opener since 2006, and have emerged victorious in its last 12 home openers, most recently, a shoutout 77-0 victory vs. Savannah State last season.

Amidst the two early losses, RS Freshman QB Jarren Williams has looked strong. In his first ever collegiate start against Top 10 ranked Florida, Williams finished 19-for-30 for 214 yards and 1 TD. He looked even better in week two against ACC opponent North Carolina, throwing for 309 yards on 30-for-39 passing with two touchdowns and no picks. He’ll likely put up even bigger numbers today against a significantly weaker defense. He’s now the ranked fourth among ACC Quarterbacks.

Williams also has strong targets in RB DeeJay Dallas who rushed for 107 yards on 14 carries, averaging 7.6 yards per rush vs. UNC, as well as TE Brevin Jordan who leads the team with 161 receiving yards (80.5 per game).

On the defensive end, Miami has one the best linebacker trios in college football right now with Zach McCloud, Michael Pinckney & Shaq Quarterman. These three have started nearly every game together since arriving to University of Miami as early enrollees in 2016.

UM’s starting offensive line now has three freshman. True freshman LT Zion Nelson, redshirt freshman RT John Campbell, Jr. and true freshman Jakai Clark who made his first start against the Tar Heels. The young UM offensive line looked much improved in week two, but they still allowed four sacks and aren’t up to the caliber they need to be to be considered a solid offensive line. However, facing a FCS level opponent like Bethune-Cookman, the starting five on the offensive line should be able to grow confident together this week. 

Should Miami be upset with the way they’ve started this season, for sure. But, the 0-2 start does not have to reflect what the rest of the year will look like. This week is the perfect opportunity for the teams nine new starters so far this season to get more comfortable and build some confidence, and get the second string guys playing time to give the team more depth all around.

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Miami Hurricanes

Even with defeat Canes legend Irvin passionate about future

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI IS BACK!!!! Well, at least they are, according to Hurricanes legendary WR Michael Irvin and a social media post Monday morning.

First, Irvin was seen getting Canes fans hyped at a rally Friday night prior to Miami’s opening loss to rival Florida in Orlando Saturday night:

Irvin was also a guest on ESPN’s “College Gameday” show at Disney World and got very animated on Saturday morning with Gators legend/Heisman winner, Tim Tebow:

Well, despite the hype, the Hurricanes played a sloppy game with lots of penalties and turnovers. Some of this was to be expected with a first year head coach in Manny Diaz and a redshirt freshman QB making his first start in Jarren Williams. As we wrote though, Williams showed promise at times despite sacks and misfires, at times for the offense.

Well, Irvin was back on social media Monday (apparently after a morning workout) and wanted Canes fans to know he is encouraged and to keep that same energy even after the loss:

In the :60 post, Irvin made it very clear that the Canes “gave it to the Gators,” and he was so adamant about that, he even said it twice. He was also very encouraged about the way his team played, especially with multiple freshmen on the O-line and a young QB.

“If it weren’t for a few mistakes, the Canes would have walked away with the win!,” Irvin emphasized.

Irvin, who was a two time All American receiver for the Gators in the 80s, part of the 1987 National Championship team and later a Pro Football Hall of Famer with the Cowboys, was a good sport and congratulated the Gators. But, he did leave us with a great quote to end his speech,

“I don’t care what ya’ll say, we will never die. We will never quit, and we will never go anywhere. So, eat that on your breakfast, lunch, and dinner plate.”

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