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Miami Hurricanes WR Richards and LBs Quarterman and Pinckney Named Freshman All-Americans

Ari Russell

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(Icon sportwire)

Miami Hurricanes and their fan base have a lot to look forward towards not only in the upcoming bowl game but also next year. Three Miami Hurricanes made the ESPN freshman All-American team this week.

WR Ahammon Richards who led the team with 866 receiving yards on 46 catches. He surpassed the “Playmaker” Michael Irvin earlier in the year for receiving yards for a freshman at Miami.

The other players who made the team were LBs Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney Jr.  Quarterman led the team in tackles with 79 along with nice tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks a fumble recovery and a TD. Pinckney had 57 tackles 6.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and INT and a TD.

Clearly the future for the Canes is quite bright.

In addition the Canes held their awards night on Sunday, where sophomore RB Mark Walton was named team MVP. Walton rushed for 1,065 yards on 192 carries and a team high 14 TDs.

Born in the Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C., Ari Russell watched the rise of the 1980’s Miami Hurricanes and knew that he had to be part of the “U” someday. After graduating from Coral Gables, Ari rose through the ranks of the former XM Satellite Radio and then Sirius/XM as college football executive producer. He later spent 2 seasons as the publisher of the website “Beyond U Sports” focusing on major college football/basketball. Ari brings a great perspective on everything Miami, including the Dolphins to F.F.I.

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Miami Hurricanes

Miami loss casts dark cloud over Mark Richt

Matt Zemek

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It is true that in 2017, Mark Richt did more for Miami football than his two immediate predecessors did in nearly a full decade. In one resplendent season — ending in an Orange Bowl bid — Richt eclipsed both Randy Shannon and Al Golden. For a brief time, “The U” was back. For that alone, Richt has given his alma mater a gift.

However, the mandate for any coach at Miami is not to have one great season, but to keep the program at the top of the college football pyramid, to make big games and splashy occasions a regular annual part of fall Saturdays.

Why is Miami’s loss to Virginia in Week 7 of the 2018 season so painful? Sure, it’s the loss of a game in the standings to ACC Coastal Division leader Virginia Tech. Yes, it’s the loss of a game which basically forces Miami to win out to have any chance of making a “New Year’s Six” bowl this season — good luck with that. Of course, the loss stings because a 10-win regular season is now extremely unlikely. This team will have to be flawless over the next several weeks to make that happen.

Yet, what is by far the most damaging aspect of this major setback in Charlottesville — a sloppy, feeble and dumb 16-13 decision endured at the hands of the Cavaliers — is that it reinforced every last doubt about the 2018 Canes and the larger Miami program.

Typically, a win over Florida State — especially after being down by 20 points in the second half — would send Miami soaring with confidence into the rest of its season. In a context when Miami-FSU mattered, the outcome of that game would represent a springboard for the winner. If one of college football’s most important rivalries from 1987 through 2005 had truly regained in 2018 the importance it once owned, Miami would have become not just a new team this season; it would have become the team it was meant to be, the team it was expected to be at the start of this season.

If Miami beating Florida State truly was the in-season catapult to greatness it annually proved to be back in The U’s glory days, this season would become a lot like last season:

Double-digit wins. A division title at a time when chief competitor Virginia Tech is in a down year. Another date with Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. A big bowl game — the “New Year’s Six.”

If beating Florida State still contained the stature and cachet and value of the olden days, Miami would have turned its attention to Virginia, brought its working boots, and kicked the ever-loving daylights out of the Cavaliers, who are not terrible, but hardly rate anywhere close to their best years under George Welsh nearly 30 years ago.

If Miami was still MIAMI — the way it was last year — and if beating Florida State still carried anything close the level of resonance and importance it once did, this game on Saturday night in Charlottesville would have been taken care of with businesslike efficiency.

Miami would have gotten off to a solid, decisive start, or at the very least, punched back if UVA landed an early blow. Miami would have prevented a sluggish first three quarters, removing the burden of having to scramble desperately in the fourth quarter to make something happen. Miami would have been sharper on offense, with better play from either N’Kosi Perry or Malik Rosier, whoever was given the keys to the offense.

Miami would have served notice that it was a restored team. It would have shown that the Florida State game snapped the Canes back into a state of focus… and the look and feel of a high-quality team which had found its bearings.

Instead, Miami did……… THAT.

Whatever THAT was.

Instead, Miami didn’t control the line of scrimmage. Instead, Miami tossed three interceptions. Instead, Miami dug itself a familiar hole heading into the fourth quarter. Instead, Mark Richt didn’t make any profound adjustments. Instead, brain-dead decisions and penalties doomed the Canes just when they were on the cusp of giving themselves a chance to steal another win in the final minutes.

This was so reminiscent of Richt’s days at Georgia, when any big win — any sign of improvement and restoration — was immediately followed by a deflating loss which shattered aspirations of playing in the most important games of the year: a conference title game and a prestigious bowl game. So often at the University of Georgia, Richt would stub his toe on a game like this. His team might still have gone 9-3, but that meant an Outback Bowl instead of the Orange Bowl or the Sugar Bowl. Georgia played in a largely irrelevant bowl game and did not reach its highest goals, the goals the fan base and the national pundits both expected.

It is true that even the best coaches have a tough time winning big every single season. There will be individual years which slip through the fingers of programs. The pieces of the puzzle simply aren’t found in time to maximize results. It happens… and only three programs right now — Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State — seem to exist above that level of organic chaos.

Yet, this year seemed to give Richt a roster talented enough to sustain what had been built last year. This year offered Miami and its fans the promise of consolidating 2017’s gains and making Miami a more entrenched power, a program which could stick around as opposed to making an appearance but then reverting to its previous decade of mediocrity under Randy Shannon and Al Golden.

Maybe Miami will still bounce back. Maybe Miami will still win at Virginia Tech and make a late surge to steal the Coastal Division. Those scenarios are still within the realm of possibility. That much can and should be acknowledged at this point.

However, this past Saturday against Virginia was so important because Miami needed to show itself — more than the rest of the nation — that the Florida State game was a turning point and a sign of real growth. Miami needed to prove that it was ready to take hold of the ACC Coastal and its season in general. Miami needed to demonstrate that it had rounded into form or, at the very least, was on the cusp of doing so. Such a demonstration would have been more than enough to beat Virginia.

Miami fell short. Well short.

The Canes basically have to run the table over the next month and a half — let’s not think they have a snowball’s chance in hell against Clemson in December — to get anywhere close to where they want to go.

Given what we have seen all season, and given what we just saw in Charlottesville against UVA, is that a realistic expectation? Not right now.

This looks like an 8-4 season at best, the kind of season which all too often emerged for Mark Richt at Georgia, precisely when his teams were expected to do better.

This is not how The U becomes the annual powerhouse it used to be. This is not how the restoration of the juggernaut of Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis, and early-period Larry Coker returns to the scene.

This was a loss which casts a shadow over a program. Mark Richt has a lot of work to do to make the sun shine brightly again in Coral Gables.

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Miami Hurricanes

Epic second half comeback for Miami over rival FSU

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

There have been a lot of memorable games and finishes in the Miami-Florida State rivalry. And Saturday belongs right in the middle of the honor roll.

After being completely outplayed and spotting Florida State a 27 – 7 lead, the Hurricanes stormed back for a wild 28 – 27 victory at Hard Rock stadium.

Quarterback N’kosi Perry threw three second-half touchdown passes to lead the comeback after Florida State had led by 20 points five minutes into the 3rd quarter.

But the real heroes were on the defensive side of the ball for coach Mark Richt’s team. The Canes broke out the “Turnover Chain” with two critical turnovers on a fumble recovery and an interception of a short Deondre Francois. That pass was snatched by Hurricanes linebacker Michael Pickney (above) helping turn the entire game around.

Miami scored two quick touchdowns off of those turnovers and the comeback was on its way. The Noles could only muster 200 yards of offense on the day and did not score an offensive point in the second half.

And the Canes also had the football gods smiling on them, as the comeback was not without controversy.

This after a key moment midway in the 4th quarter. That’s when Florida State appeared to have hit Miami with a trick play touchdown-only to have it waived off by a penalty and, then, not overturned by replay review. QB Deondre Francois’ pass behind the line to D.J. Matthews appeared to be either even with him or a little backwards. However, the officials threw the flag and the replay review official did not overturn the second pass being illegal to Keith Gavin, who would walk in the endzone. Florida State would have led 34-21.

In the end, Perry was good enough for the Hurricanes despite completing only 13 of 32 passes for the game. And Miami’s run game was able to help them pick up critical first downs late and run out the clock.

It’s the first time since 2003 – 04 that Miami has beaten Florida State in back-to-back games. And, this loss will sting for a long time for Florida State fans, who looked like they were going to get to celebrate an unexpected win after the Noles were a 13-point underdog on Saturday.

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Miami Hurricanes

FSU-Miami leads our Saturday College Primer

Florida Football Insiders

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Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The calendar has flipped to October and the football begins to take on more significance and two massive conference games are a big part of our primer for Saturday.

FSU at Miami 3:30

The Hurricanes and FSU renew hostilities at Hard Rock stadium  Saturday. Florida State turned a dire situation at Louisville 7 days ago into a dramatic win with a Deondre Francois to nyquan Murray touchdown in the final minute and a half. Meanwhile Miami’s menacing defense forced six turnovers and scored three touchdowns in their blowout win over North Carolina 10 days ago.

Canes coach Mark Richt’s first taste of this rivalry, as a head coach, saw his team win dramatically in the final 30 seconds (above) a year ago in Tallahassee. That’s when QB Malik Rosier threw the game-winning touchdown pass.

FSU is a heavy Underdog, but it’s a rivalry game and anything can happen.

Florida vs. LSU  3:30

Pulling off back-to-back wins in the SEC on the road is never easy but that’s exactly what the Gators did the last two weeks in Knoxville and Starkville. Now they return home playing their toughest opponent to date, fourth-ranked LSU. The Bayou Bengals are led by Ohio State transfer quarterback Joe Burrow and have already scored impressive wins to begin the season over Miami, at Auburn and last week’s destruction of Ole Miss.

Florida is getting to play LSU at home for the second straight year because of the controversy two years ago over Hurricane Matthew where the game was eventually moved from Gainesville to Baton Rouge for a second straight game.

The noise of the Swamp may be a huge advantage for the Gators, especially in the second half if they get LSU rattled.

USF at UMass 3:30

USF comes off of a bye week playing at Amhers, MA against UMass and while on paper the Bulls shouldn’t have much trouble with an opponent that is 2 – 4, the Minutemen have demonstrated the ability to score. Left-handed quarterback Alex Ford threw for 4 touchdown passes in a loss last week to Ohio University. And UMass has scored 40 or more points in three games this season. The Bulls have lived on the edge pulling out victories in the fourth quarter with Illinois and two weeks ago against TCU.

Now let’s see if they can get it done on the road in the New England.

UCF vs. SMU  7:00 p.m.

The Knights look to continue its roll and the nation’s longest win streak of 17 games against SMU. McKenzie Milton is still on fire with six more touchdowns in the air and on the ground last week against Pitt. He has now been named the American Conference player of the week three times out of the 4 weeks of the award. SMU had a nice win at home over Navy scoring a touchdown and then getting a two-point conversion on the final play of the game for the upset.

However, this ain’t Navy on offense. The high-powered Knights should score early and often to improve to 5-0 and then, have a big showdown next weekend at Memphis.

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