Before the college football season began, there was cautious optimism about the Miami Hurricanes. Reticent hope of a fruitful season. An upturned eyebrow of speculation over a tough schedule. In my season preview for my Hurriances, a team that delights, shames, and infuriates me all at once, I predicted an 8-4 record and a Gator Bowl appearance. I got the losses right and they would have been in the Gator Bowl if not for the Bobby Bowden farewell-dang gum-aww shoot tour. Of course that record was going into the bowl so the Canes were actually one better at 9-3 going into that game last night. Then Miami threw up all over themselves. A 20-14 loss to a Wisconsin team that was playing the Big Ten brand of football that led the conference to a 1-6 record in bowl games last year has put a sour taste on the end of a season that met, if not exceeded expectations, and threw a wet blanket on any high preseason rankings for next year.
After the first two wins of the season, the trumpets were blaring declaring Miami was 'back'. Jacory Harris was getting insane hype after only two good games. A reality check at Virginia Tech toned it down somewhat. The Canes battled back like I hoped they would against Oklahoma. Sitting at 3-1 with the prospect of being favored in their remaining games produced images of BCS bowls dancing in Miami fans' heads. However inconsitency and mistakes cost them two more games against
Clemson C.J. Spiller and North Carolina.
Through the whole season up until their previous game against South Florida, a realistic Canes fan was happy with how the season turned out and eager to get to next season. The dud they laid last night washed all of that away. The big kick return to open the game seemed to a sign that Miami was all in for the game. Fifty-nine minutes later all you could do was shake your head. Wisconsin did a tremendous job with their gameplan: run the ball, dominate both lines, pass away from the Miami corners, and avoid miscues. The miscues is a bit misleading considering Wisconsin lost two fumbles, but Miami did not do anything with it.
All that is left are these facts for Miami fans:
Randy Shannon is 0-2 in bowl games and in both cases the team was ill-prepared, out-0coached and played flat.
Jacory Harris may have had a sweet fade, but he has a long way to go before he is considered a great college QB. Don't get me wrong I like him as a player and a personality but he has to limit his mistakes and continue to grow.
Sweet fancy Moses that field was attrocious last night. Cooper getting injured hurts about as much as the loss. [Update: he might be out until 2011, cripes.] Big thumbs down to the Champ bowl for allowing that condition of field.
The offensive line is downright bad. Does Art Kehoe need to come back? Jason Fox did not play and he will not be back next year. The line will have to prove it can pass protect and run block against a physical D-line next year for the team to be legit.
In total a season that was better than expected ended with a huge letdown. The canes have a lot to figure out in the offseason and they better because they travel to Columbus on September 11th.