Back in 2016, the much-hyped Los Angeles Clippers were struggling. They were supposed to take the next step toward being an elite team in the Western Conference but weren’t playing to that level. Center DeAndre Jordan explained why in a brief and memorably hilarious way. “I think we are smelling ourselves a little bit,” Jordan said.
The very same can be said for this Hurricanes’ team. Yes it’s early and yes, I even said that a loss in Week One does not end the season. But being absolutely crushed in all three phases of the game makes it harder to predict that Miami will have the sort of season we expected from them.
We thought we knew who Miami was this year and hell, the team probably ate up all the hype as well. The U was supposed to be back. This is Miami, the land of five national championships and the greatest team of all time. There is a new coach, a new approach and a new excitement surrounding the program. And yet, the same result was reached Sunday. Mark Richt? I thought Al Golden was still coaching.
This team should’ve been ready for a fight. Perhaps the omen of the teams jawing and nearly having a pre-game fight wasn’t as good as I had imagined. Yes, I thought, this team is ready to go out there and smack LSU in the mouth. And for the first quarter it seemed like the game would be close but that Miami would eventually come out victorious. The defense looked solid, Malik Rosier started 5/7 for 77 yards and Bubba Baxa nailed his first kick.
Then it all fell apart. Any offensive momentum vanished and LSU suddenly looked like Nebraska in ’95. The Miami defense was gashed over and over, the Tigers repeatedly running it straight up the gut on the Canes and Manny Diaz looking as though he had never seen an inside zone play in his life. Miami very clearly missed RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton, even if Gerald Willis had some solid plays. The defense couldn’t get off the mat after two knockout rushing touchdowns in the first half.
Miami had no answer and despite Joe Burrow’s relatively ineffective day, there was no way to counter and slow down the Tigers’ rushing attack. The stout, you-know-what-talking Canes defense was nowhere to be found. Nick Brossette ran for 125 yards on 22 carries, simply unacceptable numbers for a defense that was supposed to be as good as Miami’s. And run defense was supposed to be the forte.
Don’t even get me started on Rosier. For all the talk, all the praise heaped onto the senior QB about how much better he looked and how he was the best QB all spring and summer he looked beyond dreadful for most of the game. He had a couple of garbage time TDs. Great. He also threw two back-breaking interceptions, including a pick-six to virtually seal the game at the end of the second quarter.
Rosier couldn’t hit the broadside of an aircraft carrier, much less a barn. His passes were inaccurate and off-timing with his receivers, continuously missing wide and high of his intended target. He missed some wide open throws as well, denting any chance Miami had of a comeback.
Rosier isn’t completely to blame. Mark Richt seemed confident and ready and yet, had no counter punch when LSU jumped on Miami early in the game. The play calling looked the same as ever, nothing interesting, nothing tricky to try and get LSU out of position and out of sorts. But between Richt, Rosier, the defense and Jeff Feagles’ ghastly attempts at punting, Miami produced an outing not worthy of any top 25 team, much less no. 8 in the nation.
Miami better find themselves, make improvements and for the sake of all that is good, make a quarterback change. They have time, against opponents like Savannah State, Toledo and FIU. They can still make corrections and regroup as a team, as long as guys don’t begin turning on each other. But if CMR remains stubbornly stuck on Rosier and the QB doesn’t improve, the Miami offense won’t have a chance. The defense too, needs to find a way to stop the run better or games like this will be common all season long. Imagine what will happen when Miami plays a half-way decent pass offense?
The fantasy of a dominant 2018 Miami team is over. The team bought into the hype as much as the fans did and paid for it against LSU. Now they need to find a way to make it all better before the season really spins out of control. We aren’t in ACC play yet. The season isn’t over. But Miami better find the right deodorant if they want to get the stink of this vile loss off.