Due to an extreme amount of criticism from fans and media alike, the Hurricanes and Head Coach Al Golden have adopted an “us against the world” mentality this season.
After a fourth-quarter collapse against Nebraska, the stage was set for critics if the team lost. With banners calling for Golden to be fired and former players calling for a change, the chain reaction would have been inevitable.
The Canes could have crumbled knowing the firestorm that was coming their way, but instead they proved everyone wrong and moved to 3-0 for only the second time since 2005.
“[It was a] great look on the sideline when it did go to overtime – nobody panicked, leaders led and everybody else just stayed together. I’m proud of the way we finished,” Golden said after the game. “Obviously, we have some things we have to correct. But I just told the guys, ‘You’re 3-0, you just beat a good team.’ It was a great win.”
Yes, they haven’t played the greatest competition, but a team can only beat what’s in front of it. That’s exactly what the Hurricanes have done.
The fans flying banners and former players calling for change have every right to do so, but even the most critical fans must admit there has been progress.
Remember, the Canes dominated Nebraska for three quarters. While they didn’t close it out the way they wanted to, it was some of the best football we’ve seen around here for a while.
This team has young talent across the field that fans have seen flashes of in each game. Along with the talent, though, is a sense of togetherness that will help them win games just like Saturday’s.
“Unity kills adversity. We had a more unified team tonight, and it showed as far as that overtime,” senior linebacker Raphael Kirby said. “Our leadership, our camaraderie, the great teammates we have in the locker room, it was a test of our leadership once again. Adversity hit, and we killed it with unity.”
In past years, we would have seen Miami lose a game like this one, but in every game this season they’ve dealt with adversity and passed the test.
Before the season kicked off against Bethune-Cookman, fans flew a banner reading, “Temple Coach = Temple Results, Fire Al Golden.” The team hadn’t even taken the field and fans were already surrounding the program with negativity. Then they went out on the field and, while it was against an overmatched opponent, allowed just 79 yards and pitched a shutout.
Even in Boca Raton against Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Canes fans flew a banner that read, “Make Miami Great Again, Butch Davis 2016.” With the game tied at 20-20 versus FAU early in the third quarter, the Hurricanes, led by an outstanding performance from sophomore running back Joseph Yearby, outscored the Owls 24-0 the rest of the way for the victory.
After another banner flew over Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, the Canes remarkably blew a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter. With Nebraska carrying the momentum, junior defensive back Corn Elder picked the ball off on the first play of overtime. Just a few moments later, sophomore kicker Michael Badgley hit a clutch 28-yard field goal to silence the critics once again.
Each and every time the Hurricanes have been presented with a challenge, they’ve answered the call. Despite a perfect record, players know they have to improve.
“Season doesn’t stop here. Just because we are 3-0 now doesn’t mean we have accomplished anything yet,” sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya said after the dramatic win against Nebraska. “Right now, we’re happy about the win. It’s great for the program, great for the fans, great for all of you people. At the same time, we still have a lot more football to play and we have to keep getting better.”
While the team isn’t contending for a spot in the College Football Playoff, everyone wants progress. Judging from the first three games, it’s safe to say this team has improved despite some of the talent that has been lost.
Some may choose to continue flying banners and calling out the program on social media. However, the Miami Hurricanes are up against the world, and so far, they’re undefeated.