Give yourself a second to get past the initial blast of anger or disappointment reading the headline of this story gives you and prepare yourself for this next statement.
It is very possible that the Miami Hurricanes lose to the Florida Gators on Saturday.
Florida is ranked No.8 in the AP and coaches polls, while Miami is unranked in both. Florida is coming off a 10-win season while Miami struggled in 2018 and only won seven games.
Oddsmakers have made the Gators somewhere between six and eight point favorite for the neutral site game at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Florida is undoubtedly the most talented team Miami will face in the regular season and could easily be the only game Miami is not favored in all season.
And I’m here to tell you, if Miami loses, it’s ok.
It will be miserable losing to an SEC team in the opener two years in a row and even worse losing to a rival (who has refused to put Miami on the schedule) for just the second time in the last 33 years.
However, it will have no impact on Miami’s pursuit of the ACC Coastal title and will only help redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams grow and mature heading into ACC Coastal play just two weeks later.
Don’t burn your jerseys or toss them in the trash can and most importantly don’t give up on the 2019 season if Miami starts 0-1.
Charlotte is the Goal, not Orlando
Manny Diaz has proven one thing in his brief tenure as Hurricanes’ head coach: He is smart and big picture-oriented.
Diaz and new offensive coordinator Dan Enos had a 3-man quarterback competition this spring and summer with a quarterback with starting experience (redshirt sophomore N’Kosi Perry), a quarterback with playing experience in the Big Ten (redshirt sophomore Tate Martell) and a quarterback who has thrown three career passes against Savannah State (Williams).
As we all know by now, Diaz and Enos selected Williams to start against the Gators and the rest of the 2019 season. That decision certainly was not based off of past accomplishments as Williams’ career statistics are by far the least impressive of the three.
Diaz and Enos are rewarding Williams for the work he put in this spring and summer and investing in the redshirt freshman’s future ceiling. It is very possible we see a quarterback who is nowhere close to his ceiling on Saturday as he is making his first career start in a rivalry game.
But Diaz and Enos are playing the long game here. They believe Williams has the best chance to lead this team back to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte in December.
While we all want Williams to shine on Saturday, taking some lumps against Florida (No.28 in total defense in 2018) would only help him prepare for key ACC road trips to Pittsburgh and Florida State later in the year and huge back-to-back Coastal home games against Virginia Tech and Virginia in October.
Don’t jump off the Jarren Williams train if he struggles in his first start on Saturday. Give Dan Enos a chance to work through issues if there are any before lighting him up on social media and comparing the 2019 offense to last year’s train wreck.
Don’t Get Me Wrong...
Don’t hear what I’m not saying: Miami can win this game. The Hurricanes have a stout defense and have enough skill position talent on offense and in the return game to generate enough points to beat the Gators.
And Florida is not Alabama or Clemson in that they are a weakness-free team. The Gators return one starter on the offensive line and Miami will be aggressive getting in the backfield against the run and pass. The Gators have a thin secondary thanks to a tumultuous summer with transfers, dismissals and injuries.
Diaz and the Hurricanes have worked extremely hard to prepare for not only this season opener, but the entire 2019 season.
Don’t jump ship if things don’t go the way we want them to go on Saturday, especially considering the Hurricanes start ACC Coastal play in their next game just two weeks later.