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Miami Hurricanes

Saturday is big with Gators but it’s not Miami’s whole season

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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Yes, whenever the Miami Hurricanes play the Florida Gators, it’s war. There is no love lost between the two teams, and there shouldn’t be. This is a very big game. It is a winnable game. It is a game which can catapult Manny Diaz into a very happy place as The U’s new head coach.

It is a game which can immediately establish the Canes as the ACC Coastal favorite. It is a game which can give the ACC a shot in the arm versus the SEC, three months before the season-ending series of rivalry games between teams from the two conferences.

This game is a huge deal. No one is saying — or suggesting — otherwise.

Yet, the reality that a game is big is not a reason to put all of one’s emotional eggs in one basket. The reality that a game is huge doesn’t mean that if the game goes poorly, the team should be absolutely devastated.

This is a huge game, but it is just one game. Even before kickoff, Miami needs to acquire the mentality that this is not a game which will determine the fate of the entire season. It will shape the season. It will influence the season. It is NOT, however, the No. 1 determinant of how this season will unfold.

It isn’t life or death.

Why am I saying all this? Very simply: 2018.

Miami entered the 2018 season with huge hopes and massive aspirations… and rightly so. Who wouldn’t expect championship greatness after an 11-win regular season, a division title, and an Orange Bowl appearance?

Yet, when that opener — also against an SEC team, LSU — turned into a disaster, the Canes didn’t learn what they needed to learn. They didn’t use that experience as a growth moment. They didn’t view that game as a building block and a teaching tool.

They treated that game as a deflating, terrible occasion, the ruination of their grand plans and their soaring expectations.

They never recovered — not in any meaningful sense.

Look, we all know that everyone in and around the Miami program, anyone who cares about the Canes, wants this football program to be BACK.

Like Texas, and USC, and Florida State, and Oregon, and Michigan, and Penn State, various programs want to be “back” in the sense of being major national players every year. Miami desperately wants to be part of the big dogs and conjure the glory days. Yes. That is the goal.

Yet, having a goal is not the same thing as making that goal become reality This status of being “back” isn’t going to be given to Miami. Opponents won’t hand the ball to the Canes (the way they did in the turnover-chain 2017 season). Miami has to earn this status. This means walking over the hot coals of difficulty and hardship.

By all means, the Canes need to go all out and spill blood on the grass when they play the hated Gators. Yes, Miami needs to suffer and sacrifice to beat an opponent which is now a legitimate contender to Georgia in the SEC East.

Nevertheless, if this game doesn’t go the way Miami wants it to, the Canes can’t let it bleed into the rest of their season, especially if Jarren Williams has a bad day.

Restoration — reclaiming full greatness and affirming that “The U Is Back!” — won’t be achieved in one game. It also won’t be ruined in one game.

Miami needs to enter the 2019 college football season realizing that the road back to elite status is built one play, one brick, one painful step at a time.

It sounds like a cliche, but cliches do contain truth.

Miami wasn’t willing to face the truth after LSU last year. It needs to do so if this Florida fistfight doesn’t end the way the Canes hope it will.

The battle goes far beyond August 24.

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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