Thursday night was pretty rough.
After Georgia Tech whooped the Canes like they stole something – on national television no less – I was at a complete loss for words (which is rare).
My dad went to sleep early in the third quarter, so he was no help. My mom is perpetually happy, so little perspective was gained there. My brother is in a fraternity; he had other things to talk about on Thursday night.
So instead, I turned introspective (I recommend it).
What did I learn from this game?
Several things, such as the value of tackling low and playing sound defense.
However, those are technical aspects that come with coaching and repetition. A week is usually not enough to prepare for that type of offense, and it wasn’t like the coaches could start prepping for this offense during the lead-up to Virginia Tech.
What I learned from that game was that expectations weigh heavily; it takes a truly special group to overcome.
Until last week, Miami was flying under the radar. The wins that they got were not exactly representative of a team coming in with hype and backing it up.
This was the first time Miami was put into a tough spot and expected to win.
This was not a fan base hoping for a win. This was a game in which almost everyone was expecting a Miami win.
The team came up short.
The overwhelming question now is if this team will bounce back. This is the first loss of this kind, and it is the type that can break players.
In 1998, I watched Syracuse massacre the Canes 66-13. The next week Miami responded with their biggest win in half a decade, beating undefeated UCLA to close the regular season.
It was a classic bounce-back game. It was the first sign that the kids on the Miami roster had something special inside their chests.
Those guys took losses to heart. They didn’t just want to win, they wanted to embarrass the opponent. Everything was personal. It was classic Miami football.
How will this team respond?
Will they play with a chip on their shoulder? All of a sudden North Carolina State looks like a team on the rise. Will Miami be able to handle the tough road conditions?
The question now becomes whether this team will take two steps back or a big one forward, toward joining players like those young stars of the 1998 team.
A few weeks ago people were touting these guys as the next great team. After this loss, the comments are going in the other direction. Does this team have what it takes to use this as fuel?
Or will they simply be consumed by the flames?