I cannot think of a better way to sum up Miami vs. FSU v.2007 then the following:
“This is the most excited I’ve been about a ‘Canes win since we beat them in 2000.”
That was the first thing my dad, the biggest Hurricane fan I know, said to me when I called him after the game on Saturday night.
When he said it, all I could do was exult in the moment with him, screaming about the brass that Offensive Coordinator Patrick Nix and Head Coach Randy Shannon showed in calling a fake kick which turned the game in the ‘Canes favor.
However, when I got off the phone with him and thought about it, I realized just how true it was.
In 2000, UM beat FSU and announced to the world that Miami was not going softly into the light. Probation would not defeat this program. By beating FSU, UM put itself back on the map.
Now fast forward to 2007. Miami is being written off as a non-factor again. The program is down.
And just when it appeared it could not get any worse, the ‘Canes had to travel into the lion’s den that is Tallahassee to play the arch-enemy Seminoles.
A banged up, unconfident team that was 0-2 on the road this season would have to go into one of the toughest venues in college football and play their biggest rival. And yet, in spite of all of these barriers, the ‘Canes responded with a hard fought win.
They announced, in other words, that they might not be all the way back, but they will be sooner rather than later.
So after this victory, on the road in the biggest game of the season for both teams, pause and enjoy the moment.
Let us forget that quaterback Kirby Freeman’s body moves slower than his mind far too often. Instead, recall that when we needed him on Saturday, he turned into Ken Dorsey and delivered the dagger.
Let us forget that Graig Cooper dances too much in the backfield. Instead, recall that when we needed a big run, he turned into Clinton Portis and knifed through the FSU defense.
Let us forget that Randy Phillips is too slow to play corner. Instead, recall that as a safety he turned into Ed Reed, intercepting two passes that helped to turn the game in our favor.
Let us forget that our defense bent a little too often in the first half. Instead, recall that in the second half the undermanned, undersized unit stopped the ‘Noles whenever they had to.
Use the next week to savor this statement win. The ‘Canes need to improve a lot, and need a lot of help, to get back into the ACC hunt. They are knocking on the door, but it is not yet open.
There is still plenty of work to be done before this program can legitimately be labeled a contender again.
This might not be the win that starts another run of dominance. The ‘Canes might be another season or two away from that. However, I would not bet against Shannon and the ‘Canes.
And it would not surprise me if seven years from now, I looked back on this game as the one that kicked the door down.
Dan Stein may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.