Just when you thought this season couldn’t get any worse—back-to-back road losses to Virginia and Boston College—these Hurricanes respond with a hold my beer moment and fall to lowly Duke. At home. In Miami’s easiest remaining showdown; one that could’ve stopped the bleeding, while guaranteeing bowl eligibility.

From a preseason Top 10 ranking (albeit, somewhat overrated—even at the time) to an average ACC squad scrapping for a postseason game with three to play—it’s a worst-case scenario, nightmare-type season few could’ve imagined after a 10-0 start last fall.

As expected, the vitriol towards third-year head coach Mark Richt is at an all-time high. Last year’s success established a new bar; despite a lot of overachieving and late-game wins that made Miami look better than it really was. The lack of a quarterback, coupled with a sub-par offensive line and losses of key players on that side of the ball—it had more of an impact on this season than expected; all worst-case scenarios all coming to fruition.

Knocks against unimaginative play-calling are understood—though get somewhat of an asterisk, due to the lack of quality under center, as well as an offensive line that has become a full-blown liability. One doesn’t have to be a true X’s and O’s guru to know that you’re not going far without a quarterback or offensive line.

Richt definitely has some soul-searching to do this off-season—both in regards to what he can do to improve his offensive play-calling, as well as re-finding his motivation and fire for what will be his final career stop. Entering year four at Miami, one has to believe he didn’t expect this type of year three setback—which will make for a longer, harder off-season in a city that has little patience, complete with a sports fan base always quick to hurl daggers.

Still, before thinking about what the off-season looks like, Richt must still find a way for his Hurricanes to steal one of the next three games, as few squads in America are in need of an extra month of bowl practice as “The (fledgling) U”. Forget any Coastal dreams; it’s all about win number six right now over the next three weeks.

LACK OF MOTIVATION / EXECUTION BIGGER ISSUE THAN PLAY-CALLING

All the angst directed towards the head coach and his play-calling—that’s only a portion of the the problem UM is currently facing. Nine games in and riding a three-game losing streak, it’s time to divvy up the blame and call out the tremendous underachieving and lackadaisical play from a large segment of this team who has visibly mailed it in, is showing no fight and seems more concerned with their “personal brand” than they do finding a way to deliver on Saturdays—doing their part to build a contender.

Richt keeps doing his best to tell the media and convince the fan base that guys are still dialed in—but the lack of effort three game days in a row tells a different story. So does one of the head ball coach’s key assistants. Early last week week, running backs coach and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown called out the Canes for having “too many third party” players. Pressed for meaning on that, Brown dug in.

“I told the offensive after practice there should be two groups of guys on this team. There should be a small group of guys that lead and the rest that follow. And right now, we have too many third-party guys whoa re not leaders and not following and we got to either get rid of those guys or get them on board to help this whole team win.”

Brown put an exclamation point on the sentiment when calling those players “a cancer”. No bueno.

Travis Homer—in what seemed like an attempt to motivate and lead—called out the offense’s effort at practice, three days after the loss at Boston College. “We definitely need to tighten up … We had ups and downs, but definitely more downs. We need more energy.”

Brown attempted to clarify his running back’s thoughts.

“Practice was not terrible, but there is a standard that we have and are not living up to. There’s a direct correlation between what happens on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at practice and what happens on game day,” Brown shared. “And our guys, young guys especially, have to understand that you cannot take reps off or have ‘my bad’ in a week because we don’t get reloads on game day.”

The “my bad” mention in Brown’s quote jumps off the page—as it’s a phrase that truly meant something with older-school, championship-caliber players; guys that messed up, owned it and then made a point to get better, or step up. On it’s own, the phrase rings hollow. It only comes to life when the behavior is changed—akin to someone making a life-mistake, apologizing and correcting the offensive behavior. What good is the “I’m sorry” if the screw-ups continue? Seems to be a lot of “my bad” moments with these Hurricanes—yet those same mistakes are on display week-after-week, with no sense of urgency to fix.

More glaring than the unimaginative play-calling; the lack of dog and fight that was once synonymous with Miami Hurricanes football players decade after decade. Even in rough seasons back in the day for this program, there was still an elevated level of passion—guys digging in and getting after it, only to be visibly-shattered when coming up short. Losing crushed their souls, but that disappointment waschanneled into fuel that went into the next challenge—those Canes putting the past in the past and salivating for the next opportunity to go out and take one step, big or small, towards achieving greatness.

SUNSHINE STATE GOING SOFT-T AS OF LATE

Former Seminoles great and NFL star Deion Sanders spoke days back about the “soft” state of football in Florida. Some will let their personal feelings against the veteran get in the way of the message—most-notably that younger generation quick to dismiss any old school wisdom as dated, or not applicable to them—but those with brains enough to let his words sink in, there’s a lot of meat on this bone.

Sanders reminisced about the days of Miami, Florida State and Florida being perennial Top 10 teams competing for national championships. In contrast, this past Saturday marked back-to-back weeks the Sunshine State’s “Big Three” lost all their games in modern history, going 0-for-6. If that isn’t a red flag, what is?

“I don’t know what’s going on. I think it starts at the crib; it starts at home. We’re so soft with our kids—we’re so regarding them and protecting their feelings and emotions. We’re not raising dogs, we’re raising cats. We’re raising mama’s boys and daddy’s dream kid—instead of getting on these kids and making sure they fight for what they want,” Sanders preached on the Rich Eisen Show.

“I don’t even see kids today thinking about, ‘Man, I can’t wait to work my butt off so I can retire my mama’—man, they thinking about how many followers they can get. How many likes they get on a post; not being great. How many offers they can assume from colleges; not being the best—and this has to stop … Where is the love? Anything you love, you’re gonna give everything to it. Anything you like, it is what it is.”

Incredibly, the biggest dog and alpha on the field Saturday night at HardRock looked like Duke linebacker Ben Humphreys; the senior visibly rattled earlier in the game when feeling he was chop-blocked (he wasn’t) with the Blue Devils down five to the Canes. Still trailing early in the second half, Humphreys recovered a fumble by DeeJay Dallas. A quarter later, protecting a five-point lead—he forced a second Dallas turnover—helping preserve the victory and a prime example of “doing” instead of talking or getting bogged down in complaining. Humphreys’ next-level effort and action-not-words approach flat-out won the game for his team.

The lack of dogs in a state that once produced the baddest ones the game has ever seen; it’s a viewpoint that can’t be argued, as the proof is in the (lack of) results. The softness Sanders’ spoke of proven even further by seeing how Miami players choose to express themselves on social media; specifically in the midst of what is now a three-game losing streak. Yes, social media is prevalent in today’s society—but like anything else, there is a right and wrong way of using technology, tools or mediums. The timing in which several players are choosing to express themselves to their followers—it’s as important as the actually message itself.

PERCEPTION IS NOW REALITY—SOCIAL MEDIA FOCUS IS A DISTRACTION

N’Kosi Perry made headlines weeks back due to his social media gaffe; flashing wads of money an in Instagram story four days after getting pulled from a Virginia game where he threw two interceptions in six attempts. Perry has since deleted many posts on his page and hasn’t shared much since a few days before the loss at Chestnut Hill; video highlights of the comeback he helped lead against Florida State in early-October.

Where the redshirt-freshman has quieted down some—until a recent tattoo unveiling days back (more on that later)—others have stayed the distraction-fueled course.

The tough-running Dallas posted an image from the Boston College loss with a simple “Growing Pains” caption last weekend—but followed up mid-week with an image of his touchdown run in the 27-14 loss; this caption reading, “The Devil Couldn’t Even Stop Us”—which made zero sense after the Eagles’ defense held him to 30 yards total and shut out his squad in the second half, while his counterpart AJ Dillion ran for 149 yards and a score for BC.

Can’t imagine how Dallas thought that personal check-me-out moment would go over in a public forum with a long-time, frustrated fan base, but it expectedly fell flat and went up in flames days later after the sophomore running back coughed up two crucial fumbles in the loss to Duke—the Blue Devils scoring 10 points off the aforementioned Humphreys-fueled turnovers in a 20-12 upset.

As happens on social media when one paints themselves into a corner—especially celebrity-types, or athletes playing nationally-televised games—fans chimed in; many harping on No. 13 to better protect the football, getting two hands on it and things to that effect. Instead of heeding the advice (or wisely ignoring the criticism), Dallas took the bait and delivered a “STFU” message—reminding all that he actually plays football, while they should stay in their lane and observe.

Dallas is hardly the only offender—brought up here as he’s simply the latest example of a player posting personal highlight imagery from a loss, instead of seething over the setback and sickened by anything having to do with that game. Somehow a desire to gain followers and accrue likes is now on-par with players actually winning football games. Gone are the days of speaking softly and carrying a big stick—or letting quality play do the talking.

Honestly, can anyone imaging the likes of a Sean Taylor, Jon Vilma or Ken Dorsey taking to the ‘Gram with big moments from the Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State? Some great in-game shots that Getty Images nabbed, accompanied with some some half-witted, inspirational, faux-humbled, emoji-fueled quote—simply for the endorphin rush society gets from strangers’ adoration?

They’d have gotten shamed by every other disgusted teammate who cared to the point of feeling physical pain and rage.

OLD SCHOOLER WEIGHS IN; YOUNG BUCKS BETTER TUNE IN

One doesn’t even have to go back to that dominant era to be reminded of the type of dogs Miami used to have. Linebacker Jon Beason arrived the year after the Fiesta Bowl, redshirted and played three seasons for the Canes—in an era where the program started it’s overall talent decline, but still had enough right-minded players who bought into the culture and knew they had to live up to the UM ghosts who’d build the program up to championship level. Beason also called into WQAM post-game on Saturday night to unload, sharing his thoughts and frustrations.

The former NFL first rounder and three-time Pro Bowler is audibly sick of what he’s seeing out of this program—much more focused on the type of player and how they’re handling failure, more than going the basic fan approach, screaming about coaches and play-calling. The Canes legend sounded like a broken-down, at-his-wits-end parent who simply wants to see his kids succeed and reach levels higher than they’ve personally achieved—while frustrated that the pain of losing isn’t bothering today’s kids; prompting an “enough is enough” moments that has them digging in harder to get better.

No stone was left unturned in the 20-minute call. For those who won’t make the time to dig in and listen; some highlights:

>>> Regarding Perry’s recent social media revelation that he’d inked “FLORIDA” on his left forearm, with an embedded “U” logo, as some type of evidence he’s committed to the program—Beason spoke of it being a hollow, meaningless gesture from the maligned quarterback:

“That’s earned. It’s not a fad. It’s not something you do because it’s cool. It burns me up. You gotta go out and earn it. You have to hurt for it; you have to suffer for it. Great things come with a price. If you just want to show up, have success, be the best player on the field and think you’re just gonna go out there and beat whomever—go to FIU … go to FAU … go there. You can to UM to be great. That’s the standard. Period. That’s par; greatness. It’s not so much a matter of what you see on the field with the players, it’s the aftermath—it’s about how they go about their business afterwards. It’s gotta matter to you more. There has to be more conviction within how you move and why you do it. It’s not just a game.”

The phrase, “it’s gotta matter to you more” remained a theme Beason weaved throughout his long-winded take. In the eyes of this former great, the sentiment these players don’t care enough is a big problem.

>>> Beason did knock the play-calling; especially running back-to-back draw plays mid-field, late in the game when Miami needed a sense of urgency to score, convert and tie—but even that topic was less about coaching and more about the missing fire from the players, who remain unable to self-motivate. Beason still stings from witnessing in-person the ACC Championship loss beat-down suffered at the hands of Clemson last December—speaking like a former great about how that would’ve stayed with him all off-season and how it should’ve served as a motivator in January and February for this team—making guys work harder and sacrifice then, so they’d be ready and better now.

Getting another shot at the Tigers this season; a theme that Beason kept mentioning as would-be fuel that this team just doesn’t seem to have.

>>> At this point of the season, Beason stated that he still doesn’t know who the team leaders are—and said this was a shot at the guys on this squad who he’s befriended and tried to mentor; guys who have the capability to be “the guy”, but aren’t getting it done.

“You don’t lead because you’re a born leader. That’s B.S.. Anybody who tells you that knows nothing about leadership. You lead because it matters to you most, and its necessary. A great player is not great because he can light up the stats sheet; he’s great because he can make the guy next to him better. That’s what we’re missing. I don’t know who it is, or why and what not—but when you look at it from the outside-in, you have to be objective and say, where is that player—and I’m calling you out because it needs to be done.”

>>> Beason spoke specifically about the Boston College loss and the environment—the Red Bandana game, rolling out Doug Flutie and manufacturing hype to get the Eagles and crowd ready for a big game; while nothing seemed to motivate the Canes. Not even a bye week after a loss.

“You had the game last week; they’re doing everything they can to get up for us and we’re not up for them. Go out and handle your business because you can—you’re better. Don’t give them anything. You’ve never seen me raise four fingers in the fourth quarter. You wanna know why? It’s not about the fourth quarter. The first play is as valuable as the last snap of the game. That’s how you play the game … You don’t give them nothing … It’s gotta matter more … I gotta see a little bit more passion. It bothers me.”

Beason also went on about Virginia falling to Pitt on Friday night, which somewhat opened up the door for Miami to get back to the ACC Championship game—winning out and beating four seemingly beatable teams, while only needing the Cavaliers to stumble once more. Even that little bit of extra motivation that should’ve carried over to beating Duke at home—it wasn’t enough and guys were still flat on the game’s final drive with a chance to score, convert and force overtime.

>>> With three games remaining, Beason was asked what advice he’d have for the team down the stretch—needing one win to get bowl eligible, as well as working to close the season strong. Beason explained that he’s had this conversation with current players; winning the Coastal, winning the ACC— they’re byproduct of a bigger season goal—winning the national championship. Those other milestones are simply steps along the way en route to being the best.

Beason circled back to the shots he took at the likes of Florida International and Florida Atlantic; encouraging guys who don’t subscribe to his attitude and approach—go across town to either of those programs. Show up, play football, have fun, play for nothing—meaningless moments—than go be an Golden Panther or an Owl. You sign up for more when playing for Miami.

“Sometimes young men, in some cases boys, have to be pushed. They have to understand the magnitude of the situation. Coaching is a very tough job. You put in the plan and once you get to game day, it’s showtime—you’re already outside of the chalk and you watch, like me. You can’t do a damned thing about the 18-to-22 year old who are out there and essentially keeping your lifeline in tact … These coaches lay it on the line and have a lot at risk, but at the same time, you gotta find somebody—hopefully in all three phases—who can lead and do it the right way.

Not just a good player; guys who show up on game day and do it well—I’m talking about rep-in and rep-out, when you’re with big dog in the weight room, and how you go about preparing and watching film—all that stuff matters. To be able to hold guys accountable to that, that’s the difference.

Ken Dorsey—I never played with him, but I respect the stories that I heard; kicking guys off the field for being two or three minutes late to a players-only seven-on-sevens—THAT’S the type of leadership you need at the quarterback position. When do you lead, it doesn’t matter what position you play—you do it because it’s necessary and it matters to you. If you’re not willing to do it all the time—that’s why guys don’t lead—because it’s very hard. If you want to stand up and say something, you want to be the vocal guy … you have to do it every single day, because if you have a chink in your armor—guys will call you out. It’s hard, but does it matter you that much? If it does, then do it. We don’t have that.”

This deep dive into the words of a former player—it’s to serve as a reminder where the issues currently lie. For any current players who dismiss it as dated or don’t want to hear it; this can’t be as easily-dismissed as online criticism from fans. This is a former great—one that’s played and succeeded at the game’s highest level. Beason’s words can’t get shut down—and it’d be wise of all on this squad to listen to the words like those of a big brother, or caring uncle.

Until this current squad has its own identity and is winning the games it should be winning, criticism is going to reign down. Get used to is as it’s the way the world works. There are pats on the back when things are riding high, followed by un-duckable criticism when things head south.

WALK THE WALK YOU’RE TALKING, OR PIPE DOWN

Miami loved playing the role of media darling last fall when the Turnover Chain arrived on the scene. ESPN rolling to town for a few primetime showdowns, as well as College GameDay making it’s first appearance on campus—ever. Forced turnovers meant mugging for the cameras and having fun in some routs, or thrilling comeback wins. That changes when you’ve made yourself a target and lose. The bigger they are, the harder they fall—so that same chain that served as a motivator; it’s gonna get mocked-to-hell when the losses pile up.

The phrase “talking the talk and walking the walk” was coined for a reason. Bring attention to yourself when things are good—get ready for the abuse when it starts going bad.

Blaming the quarterback quandary and play-calling has been this season’s version of low-hanging fruit and focusing on the smaller picture—but as proven again last night, the Hurricanes don’t have a quarterback, as both Perry and Malik Rosier got their shots, which each as ineffective as the other.

Where Rosier lacks the talent, Perry is void of any awareness—most-noticeable late game when not picking up two blitzing defenders on his right side that resulted in an incomplete pass originally ruled a fumble. Equally as bad, Perry staring down receivers and doing nothing with his body language to mislead the defense, putting his receivers in better position to make plays.

Doubly as frustrating, the fact that these are issues that get fixed with more effort, practice and film study—not to mention, leading by example—which is a prerequisite of any would-be quarterback great. Instead, Perry seems to be more intrigued with the idea and spoils of being a quarterback at a big time program—the brand that is “The U” and playing at this legendary school—opposed to putting in the work to become the quarterback of today, and tomorrow.

In contrast, true freshman Jarren Williams has been much quieter on social media not posting anything since the third week of the season—seemingly more focused on quietly working towards improving. Should No. 15 become an eventual starter, leader and great for Miami—it’d be interesting to track the correlation between on-field success versus a social media absence.

With three games remaining, a safe bet the Hurricanes tap into Williams as he can play in three more contests while still retaining his redshirt. It’d also make sense for Richt to abandon Rosier all-together at this point, as the Coastal is out of reach, No. 12 is a r-senior and the rest of this season should be focused on building towards next year—which doesn’t apply to Rosier. Perry and Williams are set to duke it out next spring, so may as well let them both learn on-the-job the rest of this month.

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