A WIN IS A WIN. When people asked me earlier in the week what I thought the score would be this afternoon, I consistently responded: "It doesn’t matter. Survive and advance." Miami has been through so much in the past ten days. The Canes won 24-21 and finished two fourth quarter drives for touchdowns in crunch time. Al Golden said it perfectly in his postgame press conference. "I’m just glad we had a chance to come out here and find a way to win." In years past, Miami would’ve folded under the pressure of a late deficit to a team they were supposed to beat. What a difference a year makes. I’ve been saying it for months – This Year Will Be Different.
It is hard to win in college football. According to @ESPNStatsInfo, Miami is the first FBS team to win 3 straight games after trailing by double digits in each since Michigan in 2007. It hasn’t been pretty for the Canes recently, but the maturity and mental toughness of this team has been on full display. Different guys have stepped up each week. Against UNC, Dallas Crawford was the star, scoring two fourth quarter touchdowns. Today, Duke Johnson showed off his conditioning and strength, running for 168 yards on 30 carries (a career high). Punter Pat O’Donnell continues to be a dominant force in special teams, pinning Wake Forest at their 3-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Antonio Crawford came up with game-winning play on his first career interception.
After Wake Forest led 14-3 in the first half, my phone started to buzz. Soon after, I tweeted the following: "According to 10+ text messages I received, I am banned from the press box going forward. Hope my jinxing powers aren't in effect today." Watching Miami's final drive was thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time. When Duke Johnson scored (for the second time on the drive) I celebrated silently. As the other writers in the press box furiously wrote their stories following Duke Johnson’s go ahead touchdown, I sat quietly and watched. I knew if I typed a single word of my story, Wake Forest would answer with a score. Sure enough, two plays later Antonio Crawford intercepted a Price pass and sealed the game for Miami.
I want to share one observation from being at the stadium today. I was disappointed to see fans booing the Canes offense at some points in the first three quarters. This isn’t the NFL. If you want to share your displeasure with a coaching decision like punting on 4th and 2, that’s fine, but don’t boo these kids. Miami’s players have shown incredible toughness all season and deserve your full support. Cheer this team and help players fight through adversity. I was very pleased to see the entire stadium join together for a "Let’s Go Canes" chant during the final drive with Miami down four. The players feed off of the energy from the crowd and have earned your respect with a 7-0 start. Let’s be thankful and enjoy this win.
Some of my favorite quotes from the postgame press conferences –
Stephen Morris – "I feel like my ankle is getting better every week, it’s getting stronger."
Duke Johnson – "I expect to get hurt. I expect to get hit. It’s all about how you answer."
Denzel Perryman (on his big 1st half hit) – "He wanted to lower his shoulder on me…and it’s not happening."
Believe in this team. Miami is 7-0. This team hasn’t played well in recent weeks, but has found a way to win. Anything can happen in college football. Don’t spend the weekend talking about how much better Florida State looks so far this season. That’s why they play the game. Keep the faith and be ready to enjoy a week of hype about the UM FSU rivalry. College Gameday will be on hand to watch a primetime matchup of two top 10 teams. The fact that Miami has earned this spotlight says something about what this team has accomplished so far this season.
Full Speed Ahead.