Miami Falls to Expectations
After a decade of Al Golden‘s ineptitude as head coach, Miami expectations for this season were high after the hiring of Mark Richt. Miami landed a marquee recruit in Sam Bruce, Brad Kaaya was to emerge as one of the top quarterbacks in the country. Manny Diaz‘s defense would dominate, the offense under Richt was expected to flourish after years of sputtering. Fans looked forward to the return of the ‘U’, while analyst and writers had the Canes challenging for the Coastal title.
The 2016 season saw the Hurricanes return to the top 10 and undefeated against Florida State. After last night’s loss to Virginia Tech, Miami is now on a three game losing streak. Knocked out of the top-25 by North Carolina, Miami has a steep climb to get back into the Coastal race.
Miami Falls to Virginia Tech – Recap
Their worse loss this season, Miami’s season long offensive struggles finally caught up to them. Failure to convert on third down has become synonymous with the Hurricanes offense. Miami finished 3-15 against the Hokies, continuing to struggle to keep drives alive.
One of the top rushing teams in the country to start the season, the Hurricane backfield mustered only 42 total yards. Joseph Yearby lead the team with 59 yards. The offensive line continued to struggle is pass protection, allowing Kaaya to get sacked eight times for 55 yards.
Viewed as the stall worth of the 2016 Hurricanes, the defense could not keep the offense in the game. Faced with key injuries with freshman filling in, Miami gave up a season high 37 points. Hokies quarterback Jerod Evans scored three times and the Hokies offense dropped 564 yards on the nation’s fourth ranked scoring defense.
Patience and expectations
It’s easy to look at the past few weeks and say that nothing has changed in Coral Gables. This is the Miami we’ve come to know since the turn of the Millennium. There are calls to bench Kaaya and even get rid of Richt. Miami entered the season underrated by many. With the long awaited culture change, those expectations were inflated. If Miami falls any further this season, the program could implode under those expectations.
It was foolish to think that Miami would return to its era of dominance after one offseason. The energy that surrounded the program at the start of the season has always been potential, not kinetic. Growing pains are expected when undergoing a regime change. Like a country claiming its independence, there will be dissension and recession before stability can be achieved.
Next week’s matchup against Notre Dame has lost the luster it had to start the season. The Irish themselves are in a free fall having lost four of their last five. But a win against a wounded rival can alter the trajectory of the Hurricanes future.
This isn’t the first half of the season many predicted for the Hurricanes, but all is not lost. Miami has only failed expectations this year. However, with patience, those expectations will be realized.