The end of 2021 was exactly what most Miami Hurricanes fans have been waiting on for years, and that’s a commitment to winning football again. Miami ponied up the money to pay coaches as they reinvested in the football program. The question now is how close is Miami to competing to get to the college football playoffs.
Monday night Georgia defeated Alabama to win their 1st championship in 41 years and watching those two teams play live you can clearly see Mario Cristobal and staff have a long way to go to get to that level. Alabama and UGA look like well oiled machines and that’s why they were the two best teams in the country.
What’s 1st for Miami?
The 1st thing Mario Cristobal needs to solidify is his coaching staff. OC and DC have still yet to be hired, but with a Head Coach who is trust worthy there is no reason to fret about who he will hire. The biggest question is what philosophy will he employ. Offense seems to be set for an uptempo spread that worked well when Rhett Lashlee, and with the right hire the sky is the limit. On the defensive side Miami struggled mightily in 2021 so a philosophy change is much needed. The Canes were very soft against the run and struggled keeping teams out of the end zone. Could the Canes go to a 3-4 approach? Talent wise that may not be the best fit, but scheme wise that may be best suited to stop other teams.
The trenches are a far cry from what was seen on Monday night. Bama and Georgia dictated what the opposition could do offensively. Where is Jordan Davis? Where is Will Anderson? Miami currently doesn’t have players on that level on the defensive side, and even though the OLine improved over the 2nd half of 2021, gone are the days of lining up and blowing people off the ball up front. Alex Mirabal already made a famous quote where he said he’d “cut off his arms and legs before anyone considers the line a weakness.” This is a mentality and work ethic that need to happen ASAP. For years the Canes have been pushed around and created zero push in the run game, so both sides have to be fixed stat. Mario had a very physical team at Oregon, so this should change fairly quickly.
The Canes were abysmal in 2021 getting guys on the ground. It was one of the most embarrassing aspects of a mediocre season. People made fun of the Canes routinely missing tackles and allowing short gains to turn into big plays by not doing the most basic part of being a defensive player. The way Miami practices has to change. The elite teams get guys to the ground in one on one scenarios, and teaching the proper technique has to happen. Stop with the shoulder bump crap that we seemed to do over and over again. If Miami simply tackles better they can improve 40 spots or more in the defensive ranking.
Nick Saban and Kirby Smart force their teams to be accountable. Players miss plays, and they go to the bench. The best players play regardless of their classification and very rarely do players on the elite team waste time on social media posting highlight plays. The Canes have become a style over substance program, and mediocrity has become an acceptable cancer that has permeated through the football team. The ONLY goal for the elite programs is to win championships, not beating mediocre teams by a FG. Coach Cristobal must hold guys accountable from the second they get into offseason weight programs. Get rid of the participation awards, the TD rings and think long and hard about the Turnover Chain. I’m ok with the chain, but everything else needs to go.
Miami has talent. Don’t let the mind numbing losses cloud the fact that most of the kids they recruited were recruited by teams that made it to the playoffs or NY6 games. Simply correcting a few of the correctable portions of the program should pay immediate dividends. I can argue that Tyler Van Dyke is better than Stetson Bennett, Cade McNamara and Desmond Ridder. He’s also not far off from Heisman winner Bryce Young. Having a stud QB can make it easier to mask other deficiencies. Do I expect Miami to be in the playoff mix quickly? Probably not, but the ACC is as wide open as it’s ever been, so making it to the Championship game quickly is not out of the realm of possibility.
It’s great to have taken step one of the process, and patience will be needed to get back to Championship level, but with Mario Cristobal leading the charge, for the 1st time in 15 years faith should be restored. Sitting in Indianapolis watching Georgia win a title for the 1st time in 41 years definitely sparked emotions of jealousy, but the prospect of having a real coach in charge gives me reason for hope, finally.