Usually for big time games on the slate for the upcoming week, Canes fans start to get primed for the matchup. They may talk a little trash to the opponents, new youtube highlight videos surface, things get amped inside "Cane Nation."
Not this week.
See, after FAU last week, Canes fans are "circling the wagons" as Chris Berman would say. Miami cruised the first week of the season against 1AA opponent Bethune-Cookman but struggled in the first half against the FAU Owls last week until putting on the jets in the second half for a comfortable 20+ point victory. Now with Nebraska coming to town the fan base has a number of emotions coming to ahead.
The first emotion is probably a sense of uneasiness. If the Canes come out against the Cornhuskers like they did initially against the Owls then the game will be a bludgeoning, simple as that. Make no mistake, the Cornhuskers are a very well coached team and although they don't have the personnel to run what coach Mike Riley prefers (west coast system) they will put up points as they did last week.
The second emotion (and one shown from many of our commenters especially) is bitterness that nothing has changed, that nothing has gotten better. Yes, Miami forced five turnovers and put nominal pressure on FAU's backup quarterback but still gave up large runs on missed tackles in the secondary. To compound the defenses ineptness in crucial plays, the offense simply doesn't have a true identity yet. Is this a spread passing attack? Power running game? Who's the number one pass catcher? Tight ends? Do they exist?
Lastly, there is one more thought process to this team and the best way to describe it would be to "have patience." If you look at the game from a statistical perspective, yes, FAU gained lots of yards but didn't convert when they needed to. Miami, in retrospect, did have control of the game especially in the second half. The fact of the matter is this squad is more of a "sum of its parts" type of team rather than relying on one or two playmakers to make things happen like it was last year. The reason patience is needed is because the offensive identity needs to established. Hopefully a receiver or any type of pass catcher steps up to be "the guy" and the quicker that happens, the better. Also, the coaching staff needs to settle on the style of offense they want to run. Assuming this happens in the crucial Nebraska game then Miami can move forward for the rest of the season with a true identity.
My perspective on the team as it currently stands? On defense I think it is what it is. I don't know if it's going to get better. I think D'Onofrio is failing due to possibly out scheming himself and also playing favorites to certain players that get way more burn than they should (sorry Dallas, you should probably only play special teams right now). On offense as I've alluded two twice, they need to figure out what the hell they want to be. Against Bethune, Kaaya threw lots of ineffective screens and was out of the shotgun the entirety of the game. Last week he stayed in shotgun but the passing attack revolved primarily around the running backs getting dump offs out of the backfield. What's their identity right now? I have no idea.
In the end, none of us can do anything but watch and see how this ride plays out. Are the Canes really getting better? I don't really know. But what I do know is, this game is a bend or break game for Golden. "Bend" in the sense that if the Canes win it will quiet the doubters for a week or two. "Break" in the sense that well.. It could get bad again like post the bowl game loss South Carolina.
Nebraska week, here we come. Weeeeeeee