UM is headed to Chicago to take on Notre Dame at Soldier Field next weekend and few saw “The U” as a one-loss team entering that showdown, yet that’s the reality.
A full recap of this exciting back-and-forth with North Carolina State is forthcoming, but for now a few knee-jerk thoughts on the win.
For starters, enjoy it, Hurricane Nation. Dive in, soak it up and embrace Miami’s best start since 2009.
Wins have been few and far between the past half decade so this is extra special.
Al Golden took over a 35-29 squad and went 6-6 year one of his tenure. Based on that, Miami fans have zero business turning their nose up at any win in this day and age as they are simply too few and far between.
In the past, you could bitch about style points or not winning by enough, but as the Canes rebuild, it’s about the win – as that’s something for coaches and players to build on – as well as heart, a can-do attitude, no quit and true grit. This team grows up every week, which hasn’t been the case in years.
Down 36-19 last week at Georgia Tech, Miami rattled off 17 to tie things up and after a big 4th-and-1 stop in overtime, put up six more for 23 unanswered en route to victory.
Today, another quick start against NC State and a 23-7 lead after one, which like last week was squandered when the Miami offense went into a hole. Four turnovers with no points netted off so many changes in possession.
Midway through the third quarter, that lead was cut to 23-21 and momentum was slipping away. As this happened, the focus remained on the missed offensive opportunities and points given up to the Wolfpack instead of everything the Canes did to stay in the game.
Miami “should’ve” put this thing away! How did NC State narrow the gap? Unacceptable!
While lamenting what UM didn’t do, fans missed all those little things the Canes did do to maintain a lead, to continue scrapping and to get the big win.
Nursing a two-point lead, the Canes went on a ten-play, ninety-yard drive late in the third quarter, where Duke Johnson eventually punched in the score from four yards out.
Earlier in the drive, Stephen Morris again hit Phillip Dorsett for a monster pick-up on 3rd and 8, this time for forty yards, keeping things moving the right direction.
NC State responded and mounted a similar drive, going ninety-seven yards over thirteen plays, and making it a 30-27 ball game, but Miami again reacted. Morris back to Dorsett for forty-six yards and an eventual touchdown to Rashawn Scott to make it a ten-point game.
The Wolfpack came back with ten of their own, complete with another Jake Wieclaw field goal miss between scores. The Canes veteran kicker hadn’t missed one in his career before a late-game whiff at Georgia Tech last week. He missed three today in a must-win game against NC State.
Tied 37-37, Miami had another shot. Five plays and a punt. NC State had their shot and Glennon turned it over. Under a minute to play, the Canes took over.
Morris to Dorsett, incomplete. James rushed for a loss of one. 3rd and 11 from the UM thirty-eight, Morris rolled right, bought time, squared his hips and let it rip. Seconds later, Dorsett hauled in the sixty-two yard touchdown and the game was all but over.
Much like last week, a quick some perusing of social media sites and message boards, countless fans doing their best Skip Bayless. Seems everyone wants to be first in line with the told-you-so approach. Instead of reveling in two exciting wins, some are lining up and building their case for that next loss – working hard to prove that this Miami team is flawed and will eventually unravel.
Seems half a decade of losing has broken spirits and left many in a position where they no longer remember how to appreciate a win – which is actually worse than losing itself; that inability to appreciate a win.
No one is pounding the drum that this squad will go 11-1 in the regular season. Several tough match ups are still on deck. Notre Dame. Florida State. Virginia Tech. Even supposed ‘lesser’ foes like North Carolina, Virginia, South Florida and Duke aren’t gimmies.
Every week is a one-game season and three of Miami’s four wins this season could’ve easily gone the other way. Boston College, Georgia Tech and NC State ALL could’ve easily taken out Miami, but in the end, didn’t.
No, in the end, the Canes found a way in each and every game. The program rose to the occasion. They took on the personality of Coach Golden and played with some bounce in their step. UM showed heart, left it all on the field and did just about every other sports cliche you could imagine when scrapping back and fighting down the stretch.
Fans countlessly and relentlessly rail on defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio and this young defense, but lost in all that is the punishment Miami’s offense is laying on other teams.
If UM’s defense is a joke, what does that say for NC State, Georgia Tech and Boston College? The Canes bring a first-year quarterback, green receivers, a true freshman running back and a senior who has been pretty good, but far from great – and UM is rolling heads.
Tommy Streeter, Lamar Miller and Brandon Washington are all gone, yet Miami hasn’t missed a beat.
Morris broke a slew of records today – not just Miami records, but ACC records as well. 566 passing yards and five touchdowns on forty-two attempts — after a 436-yard performance at Georgia Tech last week.
All the talk about the Yellow Jackets’ potent triple option, but it was the Canes who had a 609-yard afternoon in Atlanta last Saturday. Week one in Chestnut Hill, UM put up 415 yards on BC and Johnson carried seven times for 135 yards and two touchdowns in his first collegiate game.
There’s a boatload of football left to be played this season. Seven games and a few truly formidable foes. Miami will drop a few, but they’re going to win some more, as well.
No one is screaming “national championship” or is beating a drum that the Canes are “back”. It’s also know that UM is a few plays from 1-4, but instead did enough to propel itself to 4-1 — so that’s the focus.
After so many years in the basement, why would any true UM fan want to play the “what if” game in a negative way?
Revel in this wins. Enjoy this explosive offense and realize that it wasn’t too many years back that Miami actually suited up a quarterback who went 1-of-14 against NC State, in a sluggish and embarrassing overtime loss.
The Canes have work to do, but this program is on the right track and wins like those the past two weeks are wonderful building blocks in “the process”. They give Golden and staff something to sell and prove to the kids that what their coaches are preaching is actually working.
Guys are buying in and the program as a whole is inching closer and closer to where it wants to be.
Notre Dame is officially on deck. 7:30pm ET kickoff and a nationally televised showdown on NBC. The world will be watching and based on these last two comeback wins, Miami will enter this weekend with a true belief that anything is possible.
If these Canes can put in the work, succeed and believe, then so should you. It’s that simple.
Christian Bello has been covering Miami Hurricanes athletics since the mid-1990s. After spending almost a decade as a columnist for CanesTime, he launched allCanesBlog.com. – the official blog for allCanes.com : The #1 Canes Shop Since 1959. Bello has joined up with XOFan.com and will be a guest columnist at CaneInsider.com this fall. Follow him on Twitter @ChristianRBello.