Miami loses ACC Coastal; Golden likes possibility of tenth win on the horizon

Punter Pat O'Donnell launches a bomb against Pitt - Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

With Duke's win at North Carolina Saturday afternoon, the Miami Hurricanes lost any chance at winning the ACC Coastal Division and a spot in next week's ACC Championship Game. Despite not winning the division, the Miami Hurricanes accomplished a lot this season and have a lot to be proud of.

When North Carolina's last gasp pass was intercepted by Duke's secondary with :13 left in the game, Miami's chances at representing the Coastal Division went down the drain.  Despite the three conference losses and the tremendous fall from grace that this team suffered over a three-week period, this Hurricanes team accomplished a lot this season and has a chance to win game number ten against a to-be-determined opponent that it will face in a pending bowl game.  Miami has not been in a bowl game in three seasons.

Miami also has commitments from some of the finest athletes in the country to join the roster next season.  Saving those commitments is high on the coaching staff's wish list.

"We have a chance to put ourselves in a position to win ten games. That is important to our program and to our team," Miami coach Al Golden said on Saturday afternoon. "That is our mindset.  We have to move this program forward."

This is a program that was in disarray when Golden arrived three years ago.  He came in and walked into a hot mess with the Nevin Shapiro scandal and naysayers were talking about the program receiving the death penalty. Now, the Canes have a good chance at win number ten and will play a game after Thanksgiving for the first time in three seasons.

"The reality is we are not where we want to be, but these seniors have been through an awful lot," Golden said. "We have a chance to win ten games for the first time in a decade."

To accomplish Golden's wish, the Canes are going to have to learn tackle better and find a running game that left when Duke Johnson broke his ankle against Florida State.

"We all know that there are a number of issues that we have to fix," Golden said. "We are not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination. There are so many things that we have to fix."

Golden addressed the fact that they need to get better on third down, on both sides of the ball.

"That impacts all three phases of the game," Golden said. "We just have to get better."

One thing that Golden said that the Canes will do is continue to develop young players like Stacey Coley and other talented freshman who will contribute in the bowl game.  Miami is continuing to rotate its depth and have players compete for reps in practice and in games.

"A lot of our young guys made big plays yesterday (against Pitt)," Golden said. "We have to continue to develop them. We want to push young kids in this post season. We will see a lot of guys get pushed forward. There is a number of positions where people can come in and compete. Hopefully, this will allow for competition at every position."

Golden said that the Canes have to "relinquish the mediocre mindset" and have open competition for positions on the football team.  He said that no one should look at any position being "theirs", but that is is "the University of Miami's" and that the best player will take it.

"We have to get rid of that mediocre mindset," Golden said. "I want the second team tight end competing with the fullback and second wide receiver for reps."

Golden said that the additional bowl practices not only help this year's team get ready for the bowl opponent, but it also gives recruits an opportunity to come and watch practice and see what it is like to prepare for a bowl game. That is something that UM could not showcase in previous years under Golden's tutelage.

"Being able to go into bowl practices and see kids from South Florida get to know our team and all of those things is huge," Golden said. "We had to forego that the last two years. That's tough to quantify.

"All this helps recruiting. Nine wins helps. Hopefully ten wins helps even more," Golden said. "And we don't have to deal with the cloud for the first time since we've been here."

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