Miami’s last road trip of the season begins this Saturday as the team is set to play Florida State, a game unusually meaningless for both teams. A contest between two teams barely over .500 late into the season, with the Hurricanes at 5-4, Seminoles at 6-3, rarely means much else besides which low-tier bowl game bid they’ll receive.
Miami’s 49-14 win over the Blue Devils on Saturday, while understandably and predictably lopsided, provided a chance for the Hurricanes (5-4, 3-3) to once again collect themselves for a brief moment. Consistency has been a trait hard to come by for the Canes, but in a few spots has been reliable.
Against Duke (3-5, 1-3) currently the only team behind the Hurricanes in the Coastal Division, there again exists an opportunity for this team’s track to be reestablished, to whatever degree remains possible this late in the season. In every major team statistic (total/scoring offense/defense), the Blue Devils rank in the bottom-third of every category in the ACC.
Seven football players came to the University of Miami from Miami Northwestern High School back in 2008, part of the top-ranked recruit class brought in by former head coach Randy Shannon: Jacory Harris, Sean Spence, Tommy Streeter, Brandon Washington, Marcus Robinson, Aldarius Johnson, Kendall Thompkins and Benjamin Jones. Thompkins was the only player listed as less than a four-star recruit.
With Miami’s win against Georgia Tech last Saturday sprung a series of firsts for the season: First back-to-back wins, first time with a winning record, and – most importantly – the first time the Hurricanes (4-3, 2-2) showed up on both sides of the ball.
As the pendulum swings back-and-forth this season for Miami (3-3), again with a .500 record – and yet to eclipse the mark – this week’s test against Georgia Tech (5-1) may be the worst of both worlds. The Hurricanes rank 94th in run defense while the Yellow Jackets boast the country’s second-best rushing attack. But still, senior quarterback Jacory Harris keeps hope for a break in the cycle, and with reason.
The score would end up closer than their riotous start would entail, with the Canes (3-3, 1-2) at one point up 27-10 on the Tar Heels (5-2, 1-2) 27-3 late in the second quarter. But the game ended with Miami’s first win in Chapel Hill, first conference win of the season and head coach Al Golden’s first ACC win of his career.
Despite quarterback Jacory Harris throwing no interceptions, running back Lamar Miller again rushing for over 100-yards, near-ineptitude by the Miami defense could not be overcame. The Hurricanes (2-3) fell on the road to Virginia Tech 38-35, in possibly the offense’s best performance on the year.
As Miami travels to Blacksburg this Saturday to take on No.21 Virginia Tech, beginning what head coach Al Golden calls the “ACC tournament”, it will be against the team responsible for ending any dreams of a conference title. The Canes (2-2) gave up 31 points last season in a home loss to Hokies (4-1), ending their shot at the ACC Coastal Division title.
Disappointment. Frustration. Lack of focus, leading to a 45-14 Miami win over Bethune-Cookman that was as far from dominating a 31-point win could be. Through the first three quarters the Hurricanes (2-2) led by just ten points, far from the blowout most would expect when a lower-division opponent is paid $400,000 to take a game.