Miami Beat: Nobody’s “Back” … Yet.

This week, yours truly is going to rant and rave about the power of the pen, and hopefully, somehow, tie that in to Miami Hurricanes football. Thanks to a heartfelt 23 point comeback, the ‘Canes find themselves loosely part of this week’s hidden story – media hype.

Waking up Tuesday morning, and now thinking about going to bed Tuesday night, I am longing for a MAC contest on the infamous four-letter, instead of countless reruns of Packers-Seahawks complaints. I’m troubled by the fact that multiple media outlets are now telling us the names and resumes of three previously irrelevant Americans who may or may not have missed a call Monday evening in the Rain City.

Maybe this newly fabricated story is a blessing for ACC fans, as it pushes away the talk of Florida State, and to a lesser degree, Miami, being “back.” Because what I saw (and didn’t see, more on this later), Saturday night were two former college football monsters showing different degrees of heart in comeback wins. What I didn’t see was championship football.

Florida State gave the rest of the conference a blueprint on how to slow down Clemson’s fast paced offense. Read that again, and allow it to resonate. The once mighty Seminoles, or at least their fan base, is reveling in the fact that they came from behind, at home, to beat Clemson. Their unworldly defense slowed down a team by giving up 37 points in four quarters after having previously allowed three in 12 periods of action.

Don’t let this read as a bitter Miami fan writing a column about Florida State’s return to the national landscape before the ‘Canes get there. I’m thoroughly impressed with the effort, and the depth the ‘Noles displayed Saturday night. Quarterback E.J. Manuel has faced his fair share of criticism, but genuinely looks like a better player each week this season. There is very good reason why the Seminoles could, and probably should, be favored to win every game remaining on their schedule.

But guess what? There was also very good reason Miami went into Atlanta last weekend as a near two-touchdown underdog. That reason was virtually all I saw of this terrific tilt thanks to Comcast Sports Net’s wonderfully awful coverage (again, more on this later) as Georgia Tech reeled off 36 consecutive points in the second and third quarters.

I can’t describe how exciting it was, and how proud I felt, to see a Miami team battle like I grew up accustomed to, and maybe even predicted. But let’s take this win in context, and not rush to conclusions. Miami is now a surprising 2-0 in the ACC, and truthfully in the driver’s seat in the Coastal Division. They’ve got home games with North Carolina State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, along with road trips to a currently struggling Virginia and a never intimidating but improving Duke. They also get Florida State at home, and as I type, have a reasonable chance to be favored in all of these games except the FSU contest.

And why? Because of a tremendous fourth quarter in Atlanta. Not because of four quarters struggling to put away Bethune-Cookman. And certainly not because of their trip to Manhattan, Kansas; because I’m pretty sure Wildcats’ quarterback Colin Klein just scored his 57th touchdown against the Swiss Cheese Hurricanes’ defense.

We’re four weeks into a season, and the Hurricanes sit at 3-1. That’s a number most fans probably had as their upper echelon of hopes coming in to the first month of 2012, and now they face a game I deemed as their most important of the season, playing at home against NC State. Moving to 4-1 overall, and 3-0 in conference would deserve some legitimate praise and expectations.

But until that happens, I wish national media types could take a similar wait and see approach with all stories. We’re in the middle of the best time of the year for a sports fan – we don’t need to manufacture stories. Miami isn’t back, or ahead of schedule, just because they fought hard at Georgia Tech. Florida State isn’t back because they beat Clemson at home. The Packers didn’t lose Monday night because of a non-called pass interference, or any other referee indecision. And just so I’m not accused of being biased, Miami didn’t lose the 2002 Fiesta Bowl because of a lousy pass interference call.

The fact remains Miami still needs to prove things on the field. Florida State needs to do the same. The Packers scored exactly eight fewer touchdowns than first half sacks allowed, and Miami was outplayed by Ohio State in 2002. If my column last week was as prophetic as it actually turned out to be, I can only hope the remainder of the 2012 football season plays out in a similar fashion, where there’s no weekly overreaction to success or failure, where individuals who are being forced to do jobs they aren’t qualified to do aren’t identified and sub sequentially vilified, and where we can simply enjoy what happens each weekend, forget our sorrows in defeat, and then go right back at ‘em again the next time out. And again. And again. And again.

A few notes out of Miami:

  • Did anyone else see Miami get called for “running in to the coach” Saturday? No replacement officials were calling this game.
  • WR Malcolm Lewis dislocated his ankle in what sounded like a gruesome injury. He’s set for surgery, and will miss the remainder of the season, but the team is hopeful he’ll receive a medical redshirt.
  • OT Seantrel Henderson’s rebirth continues, as he’s now a co-starter on the line.
  • Freshman LB Rafael Kirby had his cast removed last week, and is practicing “more” than head coach Al Golden expected this week. He’s got an outside chance to play Saturday.
  • LB Denzel Perryman doesn’t. He too is out of a soft cast on his ankle, but isn’t likely to see the field Saturday.

Miami has seemed to add a new wrinkle each week, aside from their trip to Manhattan. My gut tells me this week relies on pressuring Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon, who seems to wilt under pressure. And next week … I think Notre Dame may be introduced to Duke Johnson, Wildcat Quarterback.

And I’ve saved my rant of the week for last. After hinting at television coverage, or lack thereof, throughout this piece, it’s time to spill the beans. Comcast Sports Net has some major, major explaining to do. I missed the entire first quarter of Saturday’s game (which saw 19 straight points scored by Miami!) because Old Dominion and New Hampshire decided to leave their defenses on the sidelines. Yes, Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw for an absurd 730 yards. I don’t care! CSN then conveniently had “technical difficulties” for exactly 30 minutes, from 6:00-6:30 p.m., to air a Baltimore Orioles pregame show instead of the fourth quarter of a 14-point contest. Shockingly, the game was also blacked out online. I only wish I was making this up.


Chris Bennett currently covers the ACC for Rotowire, and previously for College Fantasy Football Insider. Though a graduate of South Carolina, he had his allegiances well formed, and didn’t deviate despite spending four years in Columbia. Though completely against social media, he has signed up for Twitter, where you can find him at @ChrisBennettACC.

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