The Miami Hurricanes left the sports universe in shock when they pulled off a last-second 30-27 victory over the Duke Blue Devils. The instantly iconic eight-lateral kickoff return touchdown undoubtedly created a state of euphoria for Miami fans. The miracle win over Duke was desperately needed after a tumultuous week for the Hurricanes.
Rewind to last Saturday when the feeling surrounding the team was completely different. The Canes had just suffered their worst loss in history in a 58-0 debacle to Clemson. Following the loss to the Tigers on Oct. 24, there was little hope for the team’s future. One day after the loss to Clemson, Head Coach Al Golden was fired.
“Coach Golden has led our program through some very difficult times, and he has done so with class, integrity and a true desire to see our students succeed on the field, in the classroom and in the community,” Director of Athletics Blake James said in a statement after the firing. “However, we have a proud tradition of excellence at Miami, not just in football but in all sports, and we want to compete for ACC and national championships. I simply believe that now is the time to bring the Hurricane Family together and rally behind our young men.”
Following Golden’s termination, tight ends coach and run game coordinator Larry Scott was promoted to interim head coach. In his first public statement after Golden’s firing, he shared inspirational words on how he hopes the team responds to the change. “Life is 10 percent what happens to you, 90 percent how you respond,” Scott said.
What already proved to be a turbulent week for the Hurricanes took a somber turn when Dana Smith, the mother of junior defensive back Artie Burns, passed away on Tuesday morning from a heart attack. Smith was a beloved member of the Hurricanes and was viewed as a mother to the entire team. In their game against Duke, the players wore shirts in honor of Smith underneath their jerseys.
The week of mayhem continued on Oct. 28 when senior defensive tackle Michael Wyche was arrested on misdemeanor domestic battery charges. The team suspended Wyche indefinitely following the arrest. Wyche will have a hearing Nov. 18 and if convicted, his charges carry a maximum of one year in jail, according to Florida legislature.
The final blow for the Hurricanes came on Friday when sophomore quarterback and team leader Brad Kaaya did not travel with the team to North Carolina for the matchup against Duke. Kaaya suffered a head injury during the game against Clemson and did not pass the team’s concussion protocols leading up to Saturday’s game. The team was forced to start redshirt freshman Malik Rosier at quarterback. It was his first time starting for the Canes.
“When it’s your opportunity, you got to be ready for that challenge and it has to be from the first snap,” offensive coordinator James Coley said about Rosier.
Despite all of the obstacles the Canes faced this week, they were able to smash through both mental and physical barriers. Their victory over Duke serves as a symbol of the team’s motto, “Unity beats adversity.” Hopefully the team encounters calm waters going forward, but either way, the Hurricanes have proved they can weather any storm.