Written by JC Ruiz
Remember when the hiring of Mario Cristobal felt like opening gifts on Christmas Day? Well with Christmas right around the corner and the Miami Hurricane fans are asking Santa for a lot these days. With the Hurricanes getting embarrassed by their in-state rival, FSU, to the tune of 45-3 at Hard Rock Stadium, there isn’t any Christmas joy to be found in Whoville or Coral Gables for that matter.
Did fans really think the Hurricanes could run the table because of a new coach? With these players inherited from the Manny Diaz days of rings and chains?
There is plenty of blame to go around. From the coaching staff all the way to the defense who keeps getting burned more than Michael Jackson at a Pepsi commercial.
It was sad watching the team quit so early in the game. It was even sadder that the stadium was finally full and it felt like a real college atmosphere just to have the life sucked out of it so early on in the game. A primetime game on ABC on it’s showcase time slot and this was the effort they gave? All those top recruits filling up the sidelines watching the team stretch and warmup as Phil Collins, “In the Air Tonight” echoed through the stadium. Only thing in the air that night were the hands of the Miami players quitting.
Miami legends such as Alonzo Highsmith, Ed Reed, Edgerrin James and Warren Sapp were on the sidelines watching this. Their blood must have been boiling. No way would they ever let their team quit the way these Hurricanes did. They know what that U means on the side of the helmet. It was embarrassing as a football program to see such quitters when it’s always been about the U.
All those legendary Hurricanes teams had leaders. Player willing to step up and take responsibility. Players who weren’t afraid to lead by example; to show the next group how it’s done. Miami hasn’t had leaders like that in 20 years. You can thank former President Donna Shalala for that. She tried to kill the program and she was almost successful too. She single handily set the program back and with the hires of Randy Shannon, Al Golden and Manny Diaz over the years just exasperated the situation further.
Where should we start with the blame game for the horrid season these Hurricanes are having? Is it Mario Cristobal for bringing in Kevin Steele and Josh Gattis? Both coordinators haven’t had any success with any scheme or game plan all season. It’s time to abandon what they want to try because obviously the team doesn’t have the players capable of executing.
The offense can’t block long enough for the quarterback to throw. They can’t run the ball. There has barely been a deep pass all season. The only time the running game looked decent was when Jaylan Knighton came into the game. He was their best and most explosive back last season and this year he’s seen more of the bench than game action for some reason.
As for quarterbacks, if Jake Garcia never plays another snap it will be tremendous for the team. Highly touted as one of top quarterbacks in the nation coming out of high school, it seems like the one thing he is highly touted for these days are his turnovers. While it may be a stretch to say this, but it feels like he has completed more passes to the other team than to his own receivers.
Jacurri Brown should be the starting QB if Tyler Van Dyke is unable to play again this season. He showed his versatility against FSU. Wasn’t afraid to run and wasn’t afraid to throw it either. If he gets developed correctly he could be the quarterback of the future this team needs.
And speaking of Van Dyke, what does it say for team if one player goes out injured and everything falls apart? That is what it seems like. It seems like the offense sputters without him under center even though this year’s version of Van Dyke is a significant downgrade from last season.
Why is Will Mallory nothing more than a blocker at TE? Are the Hurricanes that strong and deep at WR that Mallory can just stay back there and block. Speaking of WR where are they? Where are the prototypical receivers with the long arms who can fight for the 50/50 balls? If Xavier Restrepo is your number one receiver then you have a problem. Restrepo is nothing more than a slot receiver. He can’t run the deep routes or get separation off the line to beat a defensive back for a long play.
It feels like Cristobal is trying to push the Oregon offense on Miami. Two different teams with two different types of players. If Miami had offensive lineman like Oregon did then we’re talking about a different ball game. The Hurricanes O-line can’t block and can’t create holes. They’ve gotten their QB killed more times than I can remember.
Only positive thing about the defense is that the season is almost over. Lord knows they quit after the Middle Tennessee game. And where is the tackling? Aside from DJ Ivey, who seems like he is the only one that cares and comes to play all the time, this defense has been nothing short of a nuclear disaster. All they want to do is fly around trying to make a big play or think they can use the Madden hit stick on a player. Only explanation I have for their lack of tackling is that they think they can lower their shoulder and make magic happen.
I get it. These are only kids. I’m ok if they’re kids, I’m not ok with them quitting. It seems the culture in Miami is going to take a lot longer to change than just overnight. These are the same kids who were happy to show off rings and chains for the cameras still losing the game by double digits.
Cristobal has a lot of work to do. I’m not saying he gets a pass this season, but he is working with leftover pieces from Manny Diaz. Mario has 4 and 5 star kids coming in. His kids. And if he can’t get those kids to buy in to his program and change the losing ways of late, banners will start circling Hard Rock Stadium calling for the head of Cristobal like his predecessors before him.
Cristobal needs to clean house. He needs to rid himself of a lot of the Manny Diaz kids. Let the young kids and freshman play. Give them the experience so they can better handle the future. We know what Manny’s players could do and we’ve seen enough these past few seasons to know we’ve seen more than we would like.
For all the disappointments this program has endured the biggest has to be it’s fans. The one’s always talking about, “It’s all about the U,” or “305 till I die.” They’re the same ones who head for the exits early or not even show up to games at all because the team’s record isn’t ideal. These are the same fans talking smack online and commenting on Instagram posts bitching and complaining. These aren’t real fans.
Real fans ride or die. They show up when the team is down and they’re there when the team is winning. These so called hardcore, die-hard Miami fans rather be there for the good times and real fans are there all the time. Look at other programs with a rich history. Fans still showed up when things were downhill for their program. Not here in Miami. It’s not the in thing to do to support losers, but they’ll go to war for their Dolphins and be the first ones to bring up the ’72 season as if they were alive to remember it. Same with the Marlins or Heat. People only show up when a team is winning.
This program deserves better fans. Fans that aren’t delusional thinking the likes of Sean Taylor, Clinton Portis or Ray Lewis are walking through that door. Fans that don’t clamor for change and when that change happens they bitch and complain because it wasn’t the change they thought they were getting. They want that instant gratification, that instant success. Nothing great comes over night, but then again these are the same fans who head to social media to blast a kid’s decision to go to another school.
These fans want loyalty from the school, the program and the players but never give loyalty in return. I’m just tired of people trying to steal what the U means because it’s cool. Tired of these fake ass fans probably with their fake ass friends pretending to be something they’re not, real Miami fans. But hey, that’s Miami right? Everyone trying to pretend they’re something they’re not only to go back to their efficiency behind their parent’s house in Hialeah to wallow in their self-pity.
While the results on the field have been less than stellar, I have hope. It may be all that I have, but I have something. Like Ted Lasso said, “I think it’s the lack of hope that comes and gets you. See, I believe in hope. I believe in belief.” I believe they will finally right the ship. I believe that it’s darkest just before the dawn and that a new dawn is rising in Coral Gables. Better days are ahead. I mean hell, it can’t get any worse right? Right?