Tonight is why all of us love college football so much. Miami fans endured the blowout loss to Virginia to close out the Orange Bowl. I stayed in the stadium for every play of the 58-0 loss to Clemson a few years ago. We dealt with probation, bowl droughts, and had to explain why the Coastal Division title always seemed to slip away. The adversity truly makes you stronger. Enduring the low moments made the win over Notre Dame that much sweeter. In back to back weeks, the Canes rose to the occasion and dominated highly ranked opponents. Tonight’s win reminded me of my favorite Canes game of all time - 2001 against Washington. An electric crowd, incredibly high stakes, and a statement performance by Miami that left the entire country speechless.
The 2017 Miami Hurricanes are special. This isn’t the 2001 team, a roster and depth chart with overwhelming NFL level talent at every position. This is a collection of very good players all hungry to prove themselves, to make their mark and return the program to prominence. It hasn’t always been pretty, but this team has found an identity and has finally started to earn some respect.
Miami is 9-0 this season, with 14 straight wins, and two of the Canes most well-known players on offense weren’t a factor against Notre Dame - Mark Walton and Ahmmon Richards. Seniors like Braxton Berrios and Chris Herndon have emerged as dependable playmakers this season. Miami’s QB Malik Rosier is one of the most underrated players in that nation, showing a unique ability to make clutch plays when his team needs a spark. Rosier’s running ability has added a new dimension to Miami’s offense. After being maligned in recent years, the Canes offensive line has really stepped up in recent weeks. Travis Homer and Deejay Dallas were clearly the best running backs on the field tonight.
The Canes defense is simply incredible, holding Notre Dame and Virginia Tech to 18 points combined. The Canes have forced four turnovers in four straight games and the turnover chain has become the greatest recruiting and motivational tool in college football. Each week new players on defense step up and flash with a big play. Mike Jackson and Malek Young have become shutdown corners. Jaquan Johnson is having an All-American type year. Chad Thomas, Kendrick Norton, RJ McIntosh, and Joe Jackson destroyed Notre Dame’s highly ranked offensive line.
Freshmen are contributing each and every week, whether it’s a long touchdown by Jeff Thomas or a pick-six by Trajan Bandy. The future is bright for the Canes. The loyal fans have been patient and with the recruiting classes Mark Richt is bringing in, the Canes should be good for years to come.
I had so much fun tonight and had to share my experience. I saw so many people having the time of their lives - enjoying moments they've waited fifteen years for. The 41-8 win over Notre Dame was the game and the night we deserved, but we’re not done yet. Book your tickets to Charlotte ASAP - we need Canes fans to travel for the showdown against Clemson.
One last point - I want to see everyone back at Hard Rock Stadium next Saturday. It’s a noon game and it’s Virginia, but this will be the highest ranked Miami team in over a decade. Miami’s senior class has earned our respect, battling through adversity and coaching changes to lead this team to the top of the sport. Hard Rock Stadium has been a true home-field advantage the last two weeks. Let’s keep it that way.