Where have the big plays gone? Santana Moss made it clear, big time players make big time plays. This is the reason Miami was unstoppable in the late 90's early 2000's. No matter the scenario, a Cane came up with a play to turn the game in Miami's favor. These type of plays can come from the offense, defense, special teams, and can happen anytime in the game. They are the plays fan bases immortalize or they are the plays that lead to nightmares. I personally call them a "turning point play." Criteria are simple; it can only be one play and has to lead into a swing of points (sometimes momentum is factored, it's my criteria, I add what I please).
What has been frustrating ever since the 2001 National Title Game, these plays have become fewer and far between in the Canes favor. These are big plays that stick out over the years. There are a mixture in this list. Some Canes fans will remember fondly and others the fan base try to forget. Some are personal to me (bet you never guess which ones). They come out of different scenarios and lead to differing results.
Boston College 2001
Scenario: Up 12-9, the Canes were backed up to their own 9 yard line with time winding down.
Turning Point Play: Matt Walters intercepts a deflected ball and starts to return it. Knowing he will not make, Ed Reed grabs the ball away from Walters and returns it for a touchdown.
Result: Canes 18-9
Ohio State 2002
Scenario: The Canes are down 14-7 in the 3rd quarter, backed up to their own 6 yard line and in need of a big momentum play.
Play: Sean Taylor intercepts the pass and begins a return. Maurice Clarett forces the ball out and recovers. This leads to an OSU field goal and a 17-7 lead.
Result: Well it is still debatable who won this game but definitely the play that would have been a dagger to OSU, instead the Buckeyes were able to increase their lead.
Virginia Tech 2003
Scenario: Middle of the 2nd quarter, the Canes were down 7-0 and struggling on offense. The Canes lined up for a field goal.
Play: The Canes ran a beautiful fake and had Kevin Everett wide open in the end zone for an easy touchdown. Everett dropped the pass, resulting in no points and a turnover on downs.
Result: Miami never recovered and were crushed 31-7.
Scenario: The Canes are down 10-7 entering the second half and have to kick the ball off.
Play: Cory Nelms, for the Canes, runs past the entire Oklahoma return team and makes a crushing tackle at the OU 15 yard line.
Result: The play energized the crowd and set the tone for the second half. Miami forced and recovered a fumble then scored promptly after. Canes 21-17
Scenario: The Canes were up big late in the fourth quarter with time winding down.
Play: A run to the left where the Wide Receiver on the right side of the play, laid down a textbook block on the defensive back that helped spring a gain of no yards.
Result: Canes 31-10
Scenario: The Canes are rolling through Florida State, everything seems to be going right, and are up 23-10. The team is in the redzone looking for one last play to put the team up big in the first half.
Play: Brad Kaaya has an open Braxton Berrios on a wheel route in the endzone. Berrios was able to get his hands on it but not able to secure it as it came to the ground.
Result: What could have been an early dagger to go up 30-10, leads to a field goal to up 26-10. Canes lose 30-26
Scenario: Miami is up 20-17 and has the ball on the Cincinnati 38 after a bad punt. The Canes have all the momentum and want the big score before the half.
Play: Brad Kaaya just misses an outstretched Tyre Brady, who is not able to pull in the ball to setup the Canes with a first and goal.
Result: Canes end up missing a field goal and Cincinnati promplty drives the ball for a touchdown. It is a 14-point swing the Canes are never able to overcome. Canes lose 34-23
Why is this happening?
Is luck a factor? I would say yes but only a little bit. Coaching is part of it, in the sense that they have get the players to believe they can make these plays. The players have to own it as well, when an opportunity comes in a game, a player must realize this might be their chance to change a game.
This is not supposed to be a trip down nightmare lane. This is a reminder that every play in every game, especially against FSU, counts. For the Hurricanes to secure victory Saturday night, they will have to capitalize on every opportunity. If they are up big, who will make the early dagger? If in a tight game, who makes the play that shifts the momentum? If down and the team needs one play to get back into it, who will deliver? Whoever that player is, better be wearing green and orange if the Canes want to finally beat FSU this decade.