Miami Beat: Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated! After two weeks of finding any excuse to not put my thoughts in writing, I couldn’t let FSU week go by without a few words.

In my time of reflection – I learned that I both know everything there is to know about the ‘Canes, and absolutely nothing at the same time. Now I think I can fully understand head coach Al Golden’s befuddled looks from time to time. The fact remains we as fans have no clue what Miami team will show up week-to-week, or quarter-to-quarter, or even drive-to-drive.

Through seven weeks, we’ve seen a team that looked like an offensive juggernaut, a team that looked completely outmatched against tougher competition, a team that went through the motions against an inferior opponent, a defense as holey as Swiss cheese, and that same defense rise up and give up just 18 points against a potent spread offense.

I’ve also witnessed Miami fans being Miami fans. And I’m not talking about the large amounts of empty seats at Sun Life Stadium. That’s an issue for opposing teams to banter about. I’m referring to the countless “doom and gloom” approach the majority of this fan base takes when suffering through this inconsistent season. It’s the same attitude most folks took during Larry Coker’s demise, and Randy Shannon’s subsequent downfall.

“We’re never going to be back.”

 “Forfeit the season, give us sanctions, blow up the program.”

“Fire this coach, fire that coach, play this player instead of that player.”

I get it – this is a once-proud program that wants immediate results. And having to sit through a third rebuilding process in ten years is insanely frustrating. I’m acutely aware that Miami could go from 4-1 to 4-5 after Virginia Tech visits November 1. But I want to implore fans reading this to take a deep breath, and be rational! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and this program wasn’t either.

I’m as frustrated as anyone watching our defense be pushed around weekly. I’m mystified by the lack of adjustments. Penalties are rearing their ugly head yet again. But I also haven’t forgotten how young this team is. It’s so young that at least one new player has made his first career start in every game this season. And I dare say that this season has already brought enough joy and excitement as any season in I can remember recently. This is Jacory Harris’ lackadaisical team. There’s no constant jibber jabber during the week, only to see the same results on Saturdays. Has the team been embarrassed more often that we’d like? Yes, there’s no denying that. Have they quit once or twice? I honestly don’t know.

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But what I hope I know is the Hurricanes are in the early stages of a three-part process. The first being growth. (Strength coach Andreu Swassey jokes aside) We’ll see natural growth in 18 year old kids. And lord knows we better – because there needs to be some physical development. I also hope we’ll see some growth in the mental approach of this roster down the stretch. Especially if they were to fall to 4-5. How do they respond to very winnable situations against UVA, Duke and USF?

Moving in to next season, I’m hoping fans can see the second step in this process – consistency. I’ll contend that if the team is older and wiser, they won’t get pushed around by Kansas State and Notre Dame. Does that mean they go 10-2? Not at all. But 9-3 would certainly be a step towards higher expectations come 2014.

Yikes. Yes, I just read that. I typed 2014. It’s not a year Canes fans have thought about, or want to think about. But it’s an honest, realistic goal to add depth, strength and consistency to this program.

The irony here is there is an absurd amount to play for left this season. I’m not at all counting Florida State and Virginia Tech as losses. There’s little doubt this team is capable of winning either contest. Hypothetically, say the worst case scenario happens. The ‘Canes sit at 4-5, and 3-3 in the ACC. Wins against Duke and Virginia would make them 5-3, and dare I say very much in play to win the Coastal Division. In a season where there were so little expectations, the Miami Hurricanes can realistically drop their next two games, and still play for the ACC Championship for the first time since joining the conference.

Too often this fan base is so short sighted. There’s a lot to play for over the next five games, and the stakes are higher than they’ve been in some time. In a down, rebuilding season. How the ‘Canes get there matters little. Getting there, and having something to build on, matters greatly.

Are things perfect in Coral Gables? Of course not. I just wish we could enjoy the trials and tribulations of each season, and see the bigger picture before jumping off a cliff each Saturday evening.

Enough sappiness, and minorly calling out Miami fans. It’s FSU week. Here’s hoping Stephen Morris’ ankle is healthy (he’s doubtful according to the injury report, but I’m not buying it), Phillip Dorsett remembers his Stick ‘Em, Duke Johnson’s toe is pain free, and Jake Wieclaw magically kicks a few through the uprights. Miami is long overdue a win in this series, and long overdue an upset of a (reasonably) top ranked team.

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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.

Follow Inside the ACC on Twitter at @InsideTheACC. Get your ACC links daily at ITA’s Daily NewsLink. Talk about ACC sports on the ITA Forums.

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