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Miami Must Have A One Game Mentality In 2020

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Temple is the only game that matters for the Hurricanes right now,

Louisville v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Recently, and when I say recently, I mean about 45 minutes ago, I was watching a documentary about the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. Something that I found very interesting, was that their head coach Brian Billick created the “P rule.” What this rule was, is that none of the players on that Ravens team, nobody in that organization, was allowed to say the word playoffs, until they actually clinched a spot in the playoffs. Billick wanted his team to take the season one game at a time, don’t worry about making the playoffs, because until they actually made it, they hadn’t earned the right to talk about it. Spoiler alert, not only did the Ravens make the playoffs that year, they became Super Bowl champions.

Over the past 15-plus years, I think that this has been one of the biggest problems with the Miami Hurricanes, and one of the reasons why this program has struggled. With high expectations being placed before every season, the Hurricanes team as well as fans, are so focused on winning the Coastal division, winning the ACC, winning the National Championship, that they forget that there’s 12 games before any of that matters. And guess what, with only one Coastal division title in 16 years, we have absolutely no reason to be talking about it, until we actually win it again.

Perfect example of this was last season. Before 2019 even began, everyone was already crowing the Canes as the team that’ll win the Coastal division, and I get that fans and the media are going to make predictions, but I think the players already had it in their minds that the regular season was going to take care of itself. They were already focusing on playing Clemson in Charlotte, but then lost to UNC in September. Miami was already looking forward to playing Virginia Tech, that they nearly lost Central Michigan.

When Miami beat Louisville in early November and improved to 6-4, instead of focusing on FIU in two weeks, people were already talking about how this team was going to the Orange Bowl. What happened? Well, you know what happened.

Or how about the 2005 season? The Hurricanes were #3 in the country late in November, and everyone’s thoughts were already on the ACC Championship and perhaps a spot in the National Championship game. They completely overlooked a game at home against an average Georgia Tech team, and lost at home.

When you have that mindset going into a season, but lose a game early in the year, it could potentially ruin the rest of the season. Because once you lose a game, you’ll then have some players and coaches believing that the season is now a lost cause. Miami EASILY could’ve put the FIU loss behind them and focus on beating Duke the following game. But after the FIU game, everybody already deemed the season over, when in reality, the Canes could’ve won their last two games and ended the year on a high note.

Once a game is over, win or lose, you have to move on, because the only thing that matters is your upcoming opponent.

Two of the greatest coaches in football history, Nick Saban, Bill Belichick, they preach about taking it one game at a time, one play at a time. Belichick is known for situational football, having a new gameplan focused only on the team you’re playing that week. The Patriots aren’t worried about the Super Bowl until it’s actually that upcoming game, which is why he’s the best coach in NFL history.

For Saban, his 2015 Alabama team lost at home to Ole Miss in September, and while everyone around the country already labeled the season over and a failure, the Crimson Tide moved on and focused on winning their next game. That team went on to win the rest of their games in 2015, ending in one of the five national championships that Saban has won in Tuscaloosa.

When it comes to Manny Diaz and the 2020 Hurricanes, don’t talk about how you’re going to beat Clemson in the ACC Championship in December, focus on beating Temple on September 5th, because it’s the only game that matters right now. Don’t talk about winning the Coastal, because we haven’t earned the right to talk about it. Earn it.

If the Canes are 4-0 after beating Michigan State, don’t start talking and thinking about what bowl game they’re predicted to go, plan and focus only on October 3rd against Pittsburgh.

Belichick said it best when he said, “We don’t talk about last year. We don’t talk about next week. We talk about today, and we talk about the next game. That’s all we can really control. The rest of it will take care of itself.”

Coach Diaz needs his players to learn this, and live it in 2020, and if they do? Then we’ll be seeing a much better Hurricanes team this season. Earn it, one game at a time.