October 10, 2016


sam bruce miami hurricanes football the u st thomas
… and just like that, Sam Bruce is gone. Another would-be talent out the door before getting a chance to make his mark at “The U”.

The University of Miami severed ties with the freshman wide receiver on Monday morning, stating that the former 4-star out of St. Thomas Aquinas was dismissed “based on multiple violations of team rules and a failure on his part to meet the clear expectations established to be a part of the Miami football program.”

Way to f**king go, Sammy.

Bruce was currently serving a three-game suspension for the way-too-common-amongst-today’s-athletes social media gaffe; in this case, posing in a photo holding a firearm. The situation got Bruce booted from St. Thomas, where he wound up finishing his high school career at Westlake Prep.

It’s believed that the three-game suspension at Miami was related to that event, though Bruce worsened things by not being truthful with coaches regarding a non-football season-ending injury. Bruce was playing basketball—not prohibited, though a hobby football players are suggested to avoid—yet told coaches he was injured riding his bike.

Sources at UM have stated that there have been a long list of disciplinary issues with Bruce in his short time as a member of the program. In hearing that, a swift dismissal is truly the only option as first-year head coach Mark Richt looks to fix a broken culture and rebuild the Canes, proper.

For Miami faithful; that never-ending feeling that the hits just keep on coming. The karmic aspect of losing to Florida State due to a blown kick is lost on no one, but it’s bigger than that.

Porous offensive line play, boneheaded, game-changing penalties and a few personnel-related breakdowns all serve as a reminder that the Canes are lacking the type of depth needed to compete nationally, as well as conference-wise.

The Tar Heels head south as Coastal Division champions, having put a 59-21 pasting on Miami in Chapel Hill last fall. Are they as good as last year’s squad? A recent home pasting courtesy of Virginia Tech says otherwise, but it came on the heels of North Carolina upsetting Florida State in Tallahassee.

Regardless, a reminder that the Canes next two opponents—the Heels and Hokies over a six-day span—are serious road blocks in Miami’s quest for a first-ever division crown.

miami hurricanes football the u eddie johnson linebacker dismissed
Many Canes fans still play the “what if” game with spirited, dismissed LB Eddie Johnson.

The recently-dismissed Bruce would have zero impact on any of this in 2016; having injured himself outside of football prior-to today’s dismissal—but the parting-of-ways is indicative of a bigger problem; too many would-be greats pissing away potential legacies at Miami for moronic reasons.

Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald went in-depth on the player retention topic two Septembers ago and the numbers were staggering as 27 players were lost between 2011 and 2013; be it transfers, dismissals, not qualifying or being forced to quit football all together.

Eddie Johnson. Gionni Paul. Alex Figueroa. Derrick Griffin. Angelo Jean-Louis. The list goes on regarding players who could’ve helped do something about that 21-15 run over a the three-year span. Instead, more leaks sprung as the Canes’ program kept taking on water.

Tack on a few casualties in the 2014 class, as well as the loss of Bruce and it makes Florida State’s six-year head start on rebuilding—and seven-game win-streak—that much harder to accept.

All that bullshit these past few years; blame Al. Blame Randy. Blame Shapiro, the NCAA and anything else that fits the narrative of a down cycle. While you’re at it, make sure to blame the self-absorbed players who put self, stupidity and immaturity above team, potential and future success.

Bruce blowing a golden opportunity to be the next great Miami speedster—unacceptable in 2016 as the Canes are supposed to be past bullshit like this. That big push to keep local talent home and to rebuild the program; it was to be on guys like Bruce.

Now he’s gone—heartbreaking for him as a lifelong fan of “The U” and brutal for the University of Miami as he’s yet one more pointless casualty on the road from mediocrity to relevancy.

miami hurricanes football florida state seminoles atlantic coast conference hard rock stadium
It had all the makings of something special. The hard-rocking stadium. The throwback uniforms. The pre-game skirmish. An undefeated start to the season and a rival having already absorbed a few losses.

The Miami Hurricanes jumped out to another home lead against Florida State, but it was the Seminoles who again closed strong, much like they have the last two times these foes got after it, prevailing, 20-19—the foot of a kicker again defining another big moment in this rivalry.

In the end, a seventh-straight loss and the harsh reality that despite the gap closing between the Canes and Noles, the boys from up north are still a few paces ahead of the five time national championship Miami program. Doesn’t matter how or why—FSU’s “rebuild” starting back in 2010, while UM’s just got underway last December; the result continues to be the same.

The Canes are on the right track, but lack the depth, across-the-board talent and big-win experience that championship teams possess.

There are no moral victories and silver linings the morning after are impossible to appreciate. Saturday’s heartbreaker will be forever remembered by a muffed snap and batted-down extra point; The Block at The Rock. Convenient for narrative-sake in a rivalry that has been defined by missed kicks by the guys in garnet and gold—but Miami lost the game well before DeMarcus Walker swatted down a Michael Badgley point-after attempt; the junior kicker automatic in his career up to that moment.

No, this one was surrendered from the get-go when Miami’s supposedly-high octane offense sputtered and punted its first two drives, while settling for a field goal on its third—wasting some big time defensive stops; including a fourth-down stuff of the Noles that kept early points off the board.


Miami’s swarming defense sent quarterback Deondre Francois to the sideline after a vicious takedown by Kendrick Norton. Jaquan Johnson made the Noles pay, intercepting back-up Sean Maguire on a tipped pass and the Canes turned it into seven by way of a highlight-reel touchdown grab by Stacy Coley on 3rd-and-19—giving Miami the 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Still, the where-it-was-lost moments were all over the place; again settling for three when another offensive possession stalled out.

Francois back under center, the Canes’ defense held the Noles to 18 yards on six plays, forcing a punt. Brad Kaaya immediately went to freshman Ahmmon Richards for a 38-yard pick-up. A sure-fire pass interference call on Florida State looked to be drive-defining, but was negated when the intended receiver Braxton Berrios was hit with a facemask call—boneheaded-as-hell and taking the steam out of the Canes.

Incomplete pass to Coley. Four-yard pick-up by tight end David Njoku. Four-yard run by Mark Walton. 51-yard field goal by Badgley and valuable points again left on the field against a squad known for second-half comebacks.

The Noles responded with nine-play, 62-yard drive—including a 3rd-and-12 conversion, though eventually settling for three and cutting the deficit to 10 points at halftime, with Florida State getting the ball to start the second half.

Miami’s defense forced the three-and-out and was primed again to take control, face planted and had yet another where-it-was-lost moment, unable to close on a would-be, game-defining drive.

Kaaya-to-Richards for 12 yards on 2nd-and-7 had Miami midfield and 15 more yards were picked up when Matthew Thomas was ejected for targeting. 1st-and-10 from the FSU 34, Walton picked up three before Kaaya found Coley for 18. Another first down; the Canes in business at the 13-yard line.

False start, Coley. Momentum killer. Incomplete pass to Richards on 1st-and-15, another setback. Then the dagger—a forced pass on 2nd-and-15 with Kaaya went to Richards again; Tarvarus McFadden stepping in front for the end zone interception.

Six plays later, a defense breakdown and Dalvin Cook—the most-dangerous guy on the field, inexplicably wide open— hauling in a 59-yard touchdown reception. What could’ve been 20-3, or at worst 16-3, was now 13-10 in just over three minutes—the energy in the stadium shifting as momentum was slipping away.

miami hurricanes footbal the u florida state seminoles atlantic coast conference mark richt brad maya
Brad Kaaya again came up a few plays too short when true consistency was needed.


Incompletion, three-yard run, incompletion, punt. The type of unraveling that defined the past half decade of Miami football was rearing its ugly head again—and no one on either side of the ball could stop the bleeding.

A comeback was underway and everyone in the building felt it. The Canes weren’t done, but the lead was set to evaporate and Miami was on its heels. Seven plays and 60 yards later, Francois found Kermit Whitfield for a 20-yard touchdown on 1st-and-10—a brilliant read on a would-be run play, changed when Johnson blitzed for the Canes with three Florida State receivers lined up trips to the left.

17-13, Noles late third quarter—Miami trailing for the first time all season. Here we go again.

Walton, nine-yard run and six more the following play. Tack on a 15-yard personal foul and the Canes were already at the FSU 45 in just under a minute. 1st-and-10, Walton takes it 45 yards to the house. To be filed under, you-can’t-make-this-shit-up; holding on Tyree St. Louis—his “mistake” doing zero to spring Walton loose. (Translation; horse-shit call by the zebras.)

Drive destroyed, next-level dagger and a snatching-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory type moment that Miami simply can’t purge itself of. From taking back the lead to 1st-and-20 and deflated—just like that.

Two runs by Joseph Yearby went nowhere before Kaaya’s attempt on 3rd-and-15 was incomplete.

Miami’s defense held Florida State to a field goal after stopping Cook cold on 3rd-and-2—leaving the Canes yet another final drive-type chance like the past two years, down seven with nine minutes remaining.

Coley for 17 yards on 3rd-and-8. Another pass interference fortunate break, putting the Canes across midfield. First down run with Walton loses one, Kaaya sack loses six and another takedown on 3rd-and-17—Miami’s offense unable to do anything.

The Canes’ defense rises up, sacking Francois on third-and-long—putting the ball back in Miami’s hands for one final go-around with 3:02 remaining after a brilliant 43-yard return from Berrios.

Walton runs back-to-back, netting seven yards, but gets stuffed on 3rd-and-3. 4th-and-5 from the FSU 11, Kaaya hits Coley on a rope for the score—followed by the unthinkable. Muffed hold, blocked kick, ball game.

Even with the extra point, does Miami’s defense stop Florida State’s offense with 1:38 remaining in a 20-20 ball game? Doesn’t matter. The Canes had already been gutted and exposed—a not-yet good enough squad able to seize big moments and close.


Bad as Florida State looked at Louisville, or somewhat exposed in a home loss to North Carolina—when the money was on the table and the Canes were across the field, the Noles were able to rely on muscle memory, earning the type of comeback win that can jumpstart a season.

While Miami toiled in misery these past six seasons—firing Randy Shannon, hiring Al Golden, dealing with ponzi-schemer Nevin Shapiro and fighting with the NCAA—Jimbo Fisher was building his powerhouse; taking over a program in much better shape than the Canes, in the process.

Over that span, four Atlantic Division titles, three ACC crowns and one national championship—while Miami stumbled to 43-33, fought off a two-year investigation, absorbed three years probation and saw three different head coaches at the helm. None of that even addressed the negative recruiting that sent quality local kids packing or forced “The U” to miss out on some key players.

Cook and Whitfield killed Miami last night; two kids who at one point looked to be future Canes. Same for the ejected Thomas and suspiciously-quiet Travis Rudolph last night. Losing out on players of that nature each of the past several years—it shouldn’t necessarily define moments like these, but it can’t be ignored. Keep the best talent home, recruit strong and develop good players into great ones. It’s a tried and true formula, but simply hasn’t happened in Coral Gables for well over a decade now.

miami hurricanes footbal the u florida state seminoles atlantic coast conference mark richt
The Canes’ defense is improving, but had too many breakdowns to dethrone a loathed rival.

Under all those circumstances, the fact the Canes have actually hung with the Noles the past three years is a mini-miracle unto itself—though it’s no solace when surrendering late leads and losing 10 of the past 12 to an arch-rival.

However this edition’s script was written, it’s over. Another loss in the books and another learning experience to be taken. Some other morning-after thoughts about these Canes as seven games remain. In no particular order:

— Defensive breakdowns at Georgia Tech last week were brushed off by way of a few exciting sack, strip, scoop and score moments which were the difference in a 14-point victory. Exciting plays, but flukes that arguably aren’t going to occur on a weekly basis or against top-flight talent. Miami had a few blown plays defensively that were indicative of the past half decade of UM football and served as a reminder that the talent and personnel simply isn’t where it needs to be on that side of the ball.

A lot of tipped passes and balls-out play from guys like Corn Elder, Kendrick Norton and Chad Thomas—as well as the trio of freshmen linebackers—but not enough depth or difference-makers over there, yet.

— Exciting as Walton and Yearby have been over their careers, the Canes’ ground attack is suffering from not having a bigger-bodied, Cook-type back who can run hard, get the tough yards and carry a struggling offense on their backs. Gus Edwards hasn’t panned out and Mike James was truly the last slightly bigger, hard-hitting running back the Canes have boasted.

Two guys who are “lighting” aren’t the answer. The rushing attack needs some “thunder”, as well. The Canes lost out on Cook a few years back, but need to ensure that they find a back like him on the recruiting trail each of the next few years.

— For every spectacular grab a receiver has, seems there are a few drops, miscues or setbacks to go along with the good. Painful as the ground game has been, the inconsistencies in the passing game are added pressure for an offense seeking and identity.

— Lastly, with almost two and a half seasons under his belt as a starter, it’s time to assess who No. 15 is and who he isn’t. Kaaya was thrown into the fire as a freshman, has learned on the job and has put up some rather impressive numbers as Miami’s starting quarterback. He’s pegged to be a Top 10 pick in next spring’s NFL Draft, as the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder with the solid head and strong arm checks off most boxes that assure success at the next level.

What Kaaya hasn’t shown yet; the “it” factor and overall leadership great collegiate quarterbacks on championship-caliber teams possess.

Come-up-short moments against a Nebraska, Georgia Tech or Florida State as a freshman are forgivable—but that expected step forward wasn’t taken as a sophomore. Cincinnati and Florida State were would-be, hero-type moments where Kaaya could’ve put the Canes on his back and made a difference.

Even the bowl game against Washington State; an interception on a potential game-winning drive.

This recent showdown with the Seminoles was a growing-up opportunity. Kaaya took a beating behind a suspect offensive line, got his ass kicked and still threw two NFL-worthy touchdown passes to Coley. That said, the second down interception in the end zone was brutal and truly unforgivable based on the moment, the opponent and overall state of the program.

Florida State is suiting up a freshman in Francois, who opened his career with a comeback victory against Ole Miss, had a solid outing in the loss to North Carolina and took everything Miami’s defense threw at him, yet kept making plays and getting the job done.

Time is running out on the Kaaya era. Will this fan base ever see that next-level, clutch-type performance he’s capable of? Tar Heels, Hokies, Fighting Irish and Panthers on deck.


Two years ago, a blown 23-7 lead against Florida State broke Miami’s spirit and the Canes lost their final three games. A year ago, a loss in Tallahassee was followed by a a home win over Virginia Tech before Clemson came south and delivered the type of ass-kicking that gets a fifth-year head coach fired before he sits down with a coffee and his Sunday paper.

What is this year’s narrative—Miami now 4-1 with first-year head coach Mark Richt; an even-keel guy celebrated for not getting to high after a win or too low after a loss? Golden—always the disheveled, excuse-making post-game mess—proved unable to get his Canes to respond. Can Richt erase five year’s of Golden’s hold on this program five games into his tenure? He better and the hits are coming hard and fast.

North Carolina heads south next weekend—the same squad who took down Florida State in Tallahassee weeks back on a game-winning 54-yard field goal that ended a 22-home game win-streak.

Good news; the Tar Heels were demoralized after falling to Virginia Tech at home, 34-3 yesterday. Bad news; the Hokies are up next for the Canes, traveling to Blacksburg for a Thursday night showdown against the new Coastal Division favorites.

Negotiate that rugged terrain and a road trip to Notre Dame follows; the Irish unraveling, though South Bend ready to come alive when boys from Miami show up.

Losses to Florida State have defined Miami’s season the past few years and if there’s any takeaway from this year’s setback—let it be just that; forget about the Noles until next time around, learn from the mistakes and focus on the remaining seven games.

This was never a championship season for the Canes. At absolute best, a Coastal Division title was in the cards—Miami the preseason number two behind North Carolina. Another loss to Florida State hurts; but it’s only as detrimental as the Canes allow it to be.

Let the next few weeks define this season—not a few setbacks in a would-be step-foward moment in primetime this past weekend.

October 9, 2016


It had all the makings of something special. The hard-rocking stadium. The throwback uniforms. The pre-game skirmish. An undefeated start to the season and a rival having already absorbed a few losses. The Miami Hurricanes jumped out to another home lead against Florida State, but it was the Seminoles who again closed strong, much like […]

miami hurricanes football the u florida state seminoles atlantic coast conference mark richt brad kaaya dalvin cook jimbo fisher
The Miami Hurricanes let a 23-7 first half lead slip away last time they faced FSU at home.

Miami and Florida State, set to throw down yet again. Primetime, as usual, with the nation paying attention. The two have often met as top five programs gunning for national titles, but truth be told, even lesser stakes have been know to result in an Instant Classic.

At the turn of the century, the Canes took the power back—beating the Noles six-straight on the heels of an unthinkable five game losing streak, made possible by sanctions and probation in the mid-to-late nineties.

From there, the unthinkable happened—Miami and Florida State simultaneous backslid and became average. A couple of basic-bitches limping their way to 7-6 seasons; Bobby Bowden in the twilight of a lengthy career, while the Canes had a revolving door of not-up-for-the task head coaches in Larry Coker, Randy Shannon and Al Golden.

Jimbo Fisher took the reigns in Tallahassee in 2010—getting a jumpstart on the Noles’ makeover, quickly whipping the one-time power back into shape. The past six seasons; four Atlantic Division titles, three ACC crowns and a national championship, while Miami limp-dicked it with Golden before pulling the plug halfway through last season.

Out of nowhere for the Canes; a perfect storm—Golden’s epic face-plant against Clemson leading to a swift dismissal, coupled with a fat apparel check from adidas and Georgia dumping long-time head coach Mark Richt after a 9-3 regular season. Without any of the three, 2016 isn’t a proper rebuilding year for Miami and the surrounding optimism isn’t at this level.

The result; a 4-0 start—against a few patsies and two good-not-great teams—setting up another annual are-the-Canes-back moment and season-defining showdown. An added bonus; the $400M renovation to the newly-dubbed Hard Rock Stadium, which should look spectacular on ABC under those primetime lights.


Beat Florida State for the first time since 2009 and a ripple effect will be felt throughout college football. The type of moment where today’s recruits and tomorrow’s superstars will remember precisely how it happened and the emotions felt.

Lost in the shuffle of Miami’s comeback narrative; the fact that a solid, talent-heavy and experienced Seminoles squad has been reduced to “spoiler” and underdog, after being the second-ranked team in the nation weeks back.

A monster second-half comeback was needed against Ole Miss in the opener before smacking around Charleston Southern at home.

A week later, Louisville dismantled Florida State. A victory over South Florida ensued, though the Seminoles were definitely lacking an “it” factor. Last weekend, a 54-yard game-winning field goal off the foot of a spirited North Carolina kicker sent the boys from Tallahassee to 3-2 on the year and winless in conference play.

The setback almost dropped Florida State out of the Top 25, while Miami rose to No. 10 and is now a slight favorite entering Saturday’s showdown. All that said, it should also be noted that the Canes have played the 112th toughest schedule-to-date this season, while the Noles have played the third. Would “The U” be undefeated had it taken on Ole Miss and Louisville in September? Hell no.

Still, a much different scenario than anyone pictured a month ago and definitely uncharted territory for the Hurricanes—who have been a perennial underdog in this rivalry for longer than anyone in the orange and green cares to remember.

Lesser Miami teams have managed to do more; the Canes jumping all over the defending national champions in 2014, leading 23-7 late in the first half before falling, 30-26 and dropping three more to close the season, never emotionally bouncing back from the collapse.


Last year, a series of miscues on the Seminoles’ part kept the Canes in the game late—Miami even taking a one-point lead, but unable to stop Dalvin Cook down the stretch. The local product rattled off back-to-back 23-yard runs; the latter proving to be the game-winning score.

Cook smoked Miami for 222 yards and two scores last season. The year prior, only 92 yards on seven carries—41 coming on the Noles’ game-winning drive, Cook punching it in from 26 yards out for Florida State’s first lead of the night.

Cook started his junior season slow, but has picked up steam since—going for 267 yards and two touchdowns against the Bulls and 140 yards with three scores in the loss to the Tar Heels. Back home for his final crack at the Canes just up the way from Miami Central High School; Cook will again come to play.

Difference this time around—a 4-3 defense and more aggressive scheme from first-year coordinator Manny Diaz, opposed to the passive 3-4 approach favor by the former staff. Will that be enough? In short, no.

The key for Miami as Florida State enters this weekend; to prove it’s grown up as a program and it’s ready for the main stage. Even with a win, the Canes aren’t “back”—as that won’t be the case until Coastal Division titles are won, Miami reels in a few more quality classes and actually starts a season in the hunt.


Undefeated is sure better than two losses by early October, but lest not forget Miami rose to No. 7 three years back—a Top 10 team by default, beating on nobodies—before getting dismantled by top-ranked Florida State, 41-14, en route to the Noles’ winning the national title.

The Canes need to take the next logical step forward; playing to their potential, rising up and overachieving in the moment—opposed to wilting, unraveling and letting in-game setbacks kill their belief in self.

Miami is good enough to take out Florida State this weekend; the Noles a talented, albeit dysfunctional bunch right now seeming to lack leadership and focus. The Canes don’t have to be “better”—they simply need to be better prepared on Saturday night and close.

Year three underway, it’s time for Brad Kaaya to get his signature game. The stats have been there and the junior quarterback has the size, arm strength, character and potential NFL teams will be all over next spring, or the following year—but the California native hasn’t won a big one or led a career-defining comeback-type drive for the highlight reel. It’s time.

On the ground, the Canes lack the bigger-bodied, Cook-type back—but have two hard runners in Mark Walton and Joseph Yearby who have to get those tough yards, move the chains and break off the type of runs that made No. 4 on the other side a legend in this series.

Defensively, more of what Miami has shown the past few weeks—playing above their talent level and finding a way to overcome a depleted secondary, youth at linebacker and a defensive line in need of more playmakers in line with the greats who have suited up for the Canes when the program was a force.

Every journey begins with that first step. The Canes can take a world-class leap on Saturday night by finally getting this Seminoles’ monkey off their back. It’s all there for the taking. It’s simply a matter of Miami finally being ready to take it.

They say big time players step up in big games. Who’s ready to be big time this Saturday night?


October 7, 2016


Miami and Florida State, set to throw down yet again. Primetime, as usual, with the nation paying attention. The two have often met as top five programs gunning for national titles, but truth be told, even lesser stakes have been know to result in an Instant Classic. At the turn of the century, the Canes took […]

September 19, 2016


miami hurricanes football the u mark richt appalachian state mountaineers espn kidd stadium boone north carolina
The Miami Hurricanes weren’t given much credit for recent, expected throttlings of Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic in recent weeks. Completely understandable as smacking around patsies early September is hardly noteworthy.

The critics pointed to Appalachian State and a road trip to Boone as a mini-measuring stick for “The U”—also understandable as the Mountaineers are a quality lower-tier program. Not to mention, the Canes an unfathomable 5-12 on the road the past seventeen attempts, so this one had “trap game” written all over it.

Had this match-up taken place at any point over the past five seasons; spoiler alert—Miami would’ve shit the bed in Shakespearean tragedy-type fashion.

Instead the Canes played a dream scenario-type game, jumping on the Mountaineers early, silencing the amped-up crowd, weathering an early third quarter storm and closing strong in a 45-10 rout.

The result, a 3-0 start and ten-spot jump in the AP poll to No.15 before an off week, followed by a road trip to Georgia Tech to kickoff ACC play.

The alternate would’ve been a straight-up disaster—as proven a year ago when Miami stumbled into Cincinnati for a Thursday night showdown and got worked by a Bearcats team who finished 7-6 with losses to Temple, South Florida and San Diego State.

Unranked, 2-1 going into an off-week, local sports talk radio blowing up—and an epic fail regarding the new adidas rollout of their “Legends of The U” throwback jerseys, had things gone south at Kidd Brewer Stadium.

The only thing missing would’ve been a disheveled, hot mess of a coach, loosening his tie and rambling about getting beat in all three phases of the game and how it was all on him to get that right before shuffling off dejected yet again.

It’s cathartic to relive the Al Golden experience—forcing oneself to imagine what could’ve been this year if change hadn’t been made last fall. (Miami faithful should put Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney on this year’s holiday card list as that 58-0 pasting proved to the be the final straw.)

Instead, a still depth-starved Canes squad is playing above its overall talent level—new head coach Mark Richt injecting life into his players, staff and the Miami fan base. It’s finally safe to drop the “cautiously” and simply be optimistic about the future at “The U”.

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Cynics—or those simply too damaged by the Canes’ recent Decade of Disaster—will write off the rout at Appalachian State, looking at name only and not taking into consideration the program’s body of work.

11-2 last season in their move to D-I football, the Mountaineers won three consecutive national championships less than a decade ago. Three weeks back, ASU rolled into Knoxville and had ninth-ranked Tennessee on the ropes.

A missed extra point came back to haunt the road underdogs, with the Volunteers rallying in overtime, but that hardly diminished the feat. Appalachian State proved they’re a player and Miami going to their house for the biggest home game in program history wasn’t something to be taken lightly.


For any Canes enthusiast asked to rattle off three keys to the game, nothing would’ve been bigger than the need for a quick start. Silence the crowd, take control of the game and force a solid running team to play catch-up by throwing the football.

Miami did just that, holding the home team to 18 yards on six plays before forcing a punt and then scoring on the first play from scrimmage—Mark Walton bursting up the middle for an 80-yard touchdown.

Another quick defensive stop put the Canes’ offense back on the field and Brad Kaaya immediately got busy. Dayall Harris hauled in three grabs for 26 yards, Ahmmon Richards caught two for 24 and David Njoku reeled in a score on 3rd-and-5, extending Miami’s lead to 14.

The next go-around featured a 55-yard hook up between Kaaya and Stacy Coley on 3rd-and-9 for a 21-0 score late in the first and an eventual 24-3 halftime lead.

Miami looked primed to pour it on first drive of the third quarter, going 71 yards in just over three minutes before Kaaya threw a goal line pick on fourth down from the one-yard line. Njoku ran down John Law after the 60-yard return, but six plays and a few busted coverage moments later, all the Canes’ early dominance was reduced to a 14-point lead and the home crowd was feeling it.

It’s precisely in this moment that the last incarnation of the Miami Hurricanes would’ve begun to unravel. A few conservative runs would’ve set up a third-and-long, an incomplete pass and a punt—giving the opponent field position, momentum and purpose.

Instead, Miami came out firing—Richt knowing that Kaaya wanted to make up for his blunder. The Canes still faced that third-and-long, but threw incomplete on first down before Joe Yearby was stuffed on second.

Come third, time to let shit rip—Kaaya going deep, hitting Richards for a 54-yard completion and visibly animated as the quarterback ran downfield to finish the drive. A delay of game could’ve been a minor setback, but even that didn’t matter as Yearby rolled 12 yards for the score, putting the Canes back up by 21.

From there it was merely piling-on as the defense continued to clamp down and the offense chipped away. Kaaya went back to Richards on the ensuing drive for a 62-yard gain and found Coley on 3rd-and-Goal for the eight-yard score—with Walton adding one more for good measure early in the fourth, extending the lead to 35 and quieting the “upset special” crowd.


While it’s tough to get jacked up on overall stats when the two previous opponents with the Rattlers and Owls, the Canes held the Mountaineers to just 2.6 yards-per-carry and 2-of-13 on third down.

For those keeping score, Appalachian State rolled for 184 yards on the ground at Tennessee and looked much more dominant—a credit to a once-maligned Miami defense.

Regarding the Canes sitting at No. 3 in the nation with fewest yards-per-carry at 1.57 after three games—it’s where they were last season that make the improvement so impressive; jumping up 112 spots from No. 115 at 5.26 yards-per-carry.

Furthermore, the Canes’ defense is doing it with three true freshmen linebackers—Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud—and defensive end Chad Thomas, whose job got harder when Al-Quadin Muhammad was dismissed days before the season opener.

Credit to first-year defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, who is getting all that and more out of the 5-star end who didn’t live up to the freshman hype.

miami hurricanes football defense manny diaz appalachian state mountaineers chad thomas zach mcclound michael pinckney shaq quarterman
Miami takes its 3-0 record and No. 15 rank into a late-September off-week—solid timing as it gives Kaaya extra time to rest a swollen knee that got dinged when he turned into a defender on the third quarter interception return.

The down time also provides the Canes a necessary early-season reset and opportunity to soak up all that’s taken place these past three weeks— a solid start, exceeded expectations, unexpected praise and the necessary humility needed before diving into conference play.

Georgia Tech and their quirky offense is never to be taken for granted—though a safe bet Miami’s current staff won’t lose the time of possession battle by double as it did in its last road game against the Yellow Jackets.

Take care of business next weekend and the Canes are the undefeated, higher-ranked team when the Seminoles roll into Hard Rock Stadium for a heavyweight bout on October 8th.

Miami has dropped six in a row to rival Florida State—but based on how things have played out these past few weeks, it’s not crazy for Canes Nation to start dreaming and believing in big time football again.

miami hurricanes football the u florida a&m rattlers mark richt hard rock stadium
The Miami Hurricanes and Florida A&M Rattlers seem to cross paths every few seasons with a similar narrative and storyline. The five-time national champion powerhouse is in need of a proper warm-up screaming early in the season, while the underdog from the panhandle emulates itself after big brother, hoping someday to make it competitive.

Two years back, Miami prevailed, 41-7. In 2010, a 45-0 lopsided affair. This time around, a 70-3 drubbing fueled by three running backs with 100-plus yards on the day—the first time that feat has been accomplished at UM since 1987 and only the third 70-plus point game in half a century.

Based on some slow starts for the Canes over the year, an impressive-enough on-paper victory for the home team—complete with a first-class experience at the freshly-renovated and newly-dubbed Hard Rock Stadium. All that coupled with a mostly injury-free four quarters made for a solid opening weekend and start of the Mark Richt era.

Canes Coming In Hot For Home Opener

To Miami’s credit, it pounced early—Corn Elder picking off Kenneth Coleman on 3rd-and-11 of the opening drive—which the Canes converted to a touchdown three plays later. Brad Kaaya found Marquez Williams for the four-yard score, though running back Mark Walton did the heavy living with a 25-yard run.

Walton–with Joseph Yearby and Gus Edwards—combined for 327 yards and four scores on 29 carries, while Kaaya was a respectable 12-0f-18 for 135 yards and four touchdowns, before yielding to Malik Rosier, who game-managed the final quarter and a half.

While under center, Kaaya spread the ball around to nine different options—no receiver hauling in more than two grabs, with Chris Herndon topping the bunch with 42 yards receiving.

Up 28-0 at the half, Miami posted seven touchdowns in the third quarter before cruising to victory with a quiet fourth. Walton tore off a 37-yard run, followed by a two-play scoring drive; Yearby going for 21 yards, setting up a 15-yard strike from Kaaya to freshman Ahmmon Richards.

Kaaya tracked down Stacy Coley for the four-yard score minutes later and after a three-and-out, Braxton Berrios returned a punt 41-yard for a quick six.

An interception by Adrian Colbert put Miami in FAMU territory, where Rosier hit Standish Dobard for a 15-yard pick-up, before scampering 19 yards to the end zone a play later. Edwards tore off a 74-yard touchdown the ensuing drive, closing out the third quarter.

The Canes should’ve tacked on another in the fourth, but fourth string running back Travis Homer fumbled in the end zone, the ball recovered by the Rattlers for a touchback.

For those rolling out of Hard Rock, or others seeing that 70-3 final score cruise by on the ESPN ticker, the reaction should’ve been the same.

Good. Nothing more and nothing less.

Everything To Be Taken In Stride

Routing Florida A&M certainly doesn’t warrant over-praise—anymore than “only scoring 41 last time around should bring criticism. Collect the “W”, file it under “win” and immediately move on to Florida Atlantic. Wash, rinse, repeat and avoid a trap game at Appalachian State before diving into the meat of the ACC schedule.

Furthermore, simply appreciate teeing off on a patsy as Week One of the college football season was less-than-kind to many who faced stiffer competition.

No. 3 Oklahoma getting upset by No. 15 Houston. No. 9 Tennessee needing a missed extra point and overtime to survive Miami’s week-three foe, the Mountaineers.

No. 5 LSU stifled by Wisconsin at Lambeau Field. Mississippi State missing a game-winning field goal against South Alabama … and that was just three days into five straight days of college ball.

Sunday delivered an Instant Classic when Texas held on in double overtime to topple tenth-ranked Notre Dame in Austin, while Monday night answered with No. 11 Ole Miss blowing a 28-6 lead to fourth-ranked Florida State; outscored 39- 6 down the stretch.

Sitting back after that whirlwind, the only stat that matters in the aftermath—1-o versus 0-1. Not that Miami even had a mathematical chance to lose to Florida A&M, but with a 12-game season and needing to get warmed up for conference play, it’s a nice little confidence-builder and notch on the belt.

The Tired Ol’ One-Game-At-A-Time Adage Applies

Looking at the remaining schedule, Miami will lose—one game, two, three or more, time will tell—but it will happen. The Richt Effect will pay dividends in the long run—and even in the short—but the Canes need more overall depth, talent, experience and a revamping of the ol’ core values and attitude before becoming a true contender again.

Alabama pantsed Southern Cal, setting the Trojans a few years back psychologically with that ass-kicking. Clemson survived a quality SEC foe in Auburn, while Florida State flexed its muscle with an epic comeback against a quality foe.

Ohio State, Michigan, Stanford, Michigan State, TCU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Oregon—business as usual for good teams that have been making some noise the past several years.

Miami eked its way into the Top 25 this week—due more to those who lost, than the pasting the Canes slapped on the Rattlers. It marks the first time “The U” has been ranked since late in the 2013 season, so it should be appreciated. That said, the view from the bottom should be somewhat daunting and humbling as there’s a lot of real estate to cover if the Canes want to climb two dozen rungs higher.

Booting two defenders pre-season, losing linebacking depth after a season-ending injury to a back up (get well soon, Jamie Gordinier) and recently learning that two more defenders are sidelined due to injury for the showdown with the Owls (defensive back Adrian Colbert and defensive end Courtel Jenkins)—yet another reminder that it’ll be hard-fought season and road back.

Richt’s impact will get this thing back on track—but it’s going to take some breaks from the football gods, a healthy squad and those next-men-in overachieving for year one to be the solid leap forward a hungry fan base is clamoring for.

Next Up: Florida Atlantic (1-0) at No. 25 Miami (1-0)
Where: Hard Rock Stadium — Miami Gardens, Florida
When: Saturday September 10th — 6:00 p.m. ET
Radio: ESPN West Palm 106.3 FM

September 8, 2016


miami hurricanes football al quadin muhammad quan jermaine grace juwon young suspended expelled mark richt u ncaa investigation shapiro atlantic coast conference
Sometimes it feels like the shit-storm surrounding the Miami Hurricanes this past decade is never going to end. In some way, shape or form—every preseason is marred with some type of garbage.

Five years back it was Shapirogate; with that awful stench and crap-cloud hovering over the program for over the next 26 months.

In the years that followed, some type of departure or injury accompanied the fact that the Canes’ stubborn, inept coaching staff was going to limp-dick their way through another season—losing five or six games, while coming up with five- or six-hundred different excuses as to why.

Miami seemed primed to reverse the curse this season, by way of a fortuitous bounce when Georgia fired long-time head coach Mark Richt last December. Within days, the Canes brought home an alum capable of righting the ship and everything seemed to be trending upwards since … until this bullshit about improper use of luxury rental cars became this summer’s distraction and headline in Coral Gables.

At first it looked like linebacker Juwon Young would be the lone casualty—the junior sent packing back in June. No harm, no foul in the sense that several incoming freshmen were ready to compete at the position.Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, linebacker Jermaine Grace and wide receiver Stacy Coley were mentioned at the time—with insiders stating that the Canes were preparing for all three to sit the first three games of the season.

Again, no big deal when suiting up against Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic and Appalachian State.

Instead, word broke on Saturday that Muhammad and Grace were gone, while folks wait with baited breath, hoping Coley is in the clear. After launching an internal investigation, the University of Miami released the following statement:

“The University of Miami announced today that redshirt junior Al-Quadin Muhammad and senior Jermaine Grace have been permanently dismissed from the Hurricanes football program for violating NCAA rules. The University will, however, continue their financial aid through graduation. The decision was made in consultation with outside counsel and after discussions with the NCAA enforcement staff. As no staff members or boosters were involved in the violations, the program will not be subject to sanctions and, at this time, the University deems this matter closed.”

Welcome to Damage Control: 101 when you’re a program on probation—one that made matters even worse by cheapening out on back-to-back coaching hires, fueling a decade-long drought. Two years in the NCAA’s crosshairs results in slap-on-the-wrist offenses being treated like capital crimes, in order to remain sanction-free and rebuilding without extra roadblocks.

Harsh, but necessary as Miami needs to stay out of trouble, while rebuilding proper. Eliminate those who aren’t in line with the changes being made and recruit like-minded kids moving forward. While the word “process” was overused the past five years, it actually makes sense when used in this case.

miami hurricanes football mark richt greentree practice field


Boys will be boys and college athletes will be college athletes. That goes without saying—and as far as the punishment fitting the crime here; it absolutely doesn’t. Still, any of these players lurking around a luxury dealership looking for a flashy whip to push around town—it’s simply not wise. You have absolutely zero chance staying off-the-grid or inconspicuous rolling around town in a bright, six-figure ride that looks straight off the set of HBO’s “Ballers”.

Honestly, what the hell did everything really think was going to happen? You’re moving targets when you do something out in the open like this—especially in the era of social media and on a small campus at a private school where it’s impossible to blend in.

South Beach Exotic Rentals is denying any improprieties took place; valid explanations in place as to family members of the players renting the cars and what not. Maybe so, but why did Young, Muhammad and Grace lie to UM’s compliance office if there was nothing to hide?

Furthermore, why was Muhammad posting the images to Instagram and raising red flags for short lived gains and meaningless “likes”? This is a flashback to former defense back Ray-Ray Armstrong flaunting shots of him dining at Prime 112 on South Beach a week before the annual showdown against Florida State.

Even with the most-logical explanation, these are still bad ideas for college athletes in a major market and at a program like Miami that oft gets pinched on reputation alone.

As much of a brain-fart as the borrowing of cars itself, it was the dishonesty that would up doing these players in. Fess up and it’s a three-game suspension. Keep the ruse going and the result was three careers ending prematurely at “The U”. Was it worth it, boys?


This rant may be coming off a bit harsh, but here’s a quick tip—life is harsh and present day college football is damn near the big boy league. You want to succeed at this level; you need to start thinking like a pro the minute you set foot on campus as all eyes are on you. Redshirting, flying under the radar and bursting onto the scene as an upperclassmen? No mas. A kid can become overnight sensations game one of his freshman year.

Muhammad, Grace and Coley all signed with Miami in February 2013. The NCAA’s investigation on the Canes ended the following October. “The U” was in hot water during their entire recruitment and all players heard the negative tactics other programs were saying about UM; “death penalty” chatter and what not. They saw this program at it’s most-recent worst, yet a few short years later these guys are pulling the same kind of crap as the kids in the Yahoo! Sports report? Not to mention doing it while they all have one foot out the door and are NFL-bound next year. So boneheaded.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it—and shockingly in this case, the “past” was literally a few years prior. This especially applies to Muhammad, who sat out the entire 2014 season after a physical altercation with his roommate. He then missed the 2015 season opener for a “violation of team rules”, which doesn’t bode well for a guy said to have learned his lesson. Now, this?

What ever happened to upperclassmen leading by example, leaving the program in better shape than they found it, staying focused and going out with a bang. One solid season from all these guys and they’d have had their own fleet of luxury cars in their driveways this time next year, by way of big-time NFL dollars.

Instead it’s full-blown damage control for Young, Muhammad and Grace, while Coley best hope he’s not the next causality.

miami hurricanes defensive coordinator manny diaz the u


Miami’s defensive struggles have been a sore spot for years and while things looked to improve year one under new coordinator Manny Diaz, this depth-related setback is going to hurt.

Sure, the first-year DC will attempt to make some tweaks and hope that a next-man-in mentality can minimize the damage—but for a Canes’ defense looking to take a big step forward this season, losing two of its best players is a huge blow however you slice and dice it.

Muhammad’s aggressiveness and experience will result in defense end Chad Thomas seeing more double teams, while Grace’s speed will sorely be missed in and the middle of the field. Younger players will look to pick up the slack, but truth be told, the onus is going to be on Miami’s new coordinator to out-scheme opposing offenses—something recent Canes’ defensive minds haven’t done in years.

Diaz is now in the spotlight while true freshman will be thrown into the fire immediately. Neither are the end of the world, but it certainly didn’t have to come to this—yet it did as Miami continues to feel the effects of a broken culture.

Former cornerback Ryan Hill called out the program after the 2010 season that cost Randy Shannon his job—citing insubordination and a full-blown lack of respect by players for their head coach. Instead of Miami bringing in a proven veteran leader to get things back on track, Miami rolled the dice on another supposed up-and-comer type in Al Golden, who proved to be an even bigger dumpster fire.

Nine years of having incompetent leadership, on the heels of six years with Larry Coker playing a substitute teacher-type role—it’s pretty easy to do the math on how UM wound up in this predicament.

Richt has the resume, process, track record and abilities to make Miami a contender again—but that will take a few years, a handful of recruiting classes and the purging of me-first players that have held this program down for way too long.

August 28, 2016


miami hurricanes football sporting news preview atlantic coast conference coastal brad kaaya mark richt
The Miami Hurricanes are just under four weeks out regarding their September 1st home opener against Florida A&M and thumbing through some preseason rags to get the juices flowing for another season in Coral Gables.

The Sporting News ranks the Canes second in the ACC’s Coastal Division this upcoming season, behind last year’s champs—the North Carolina Tar Heels. Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Duke and Virginia round out the division, while Clemson sits atop the Atlantic and is predicted to win the conference.

Miami’s archival Florida State is second in the Atlantic, followed by Louisville, North Carolina State, Boston College, Wake Forest and Syracuse. The Atlantic Coast Conference’s game-of-the-year is the late October showdown between the Tigers and the Seminoles, taking place in Tallahassee this year.

When perusing TSN’s ACC storylines, Miami remains a footnote—completely understandable after five years of Goldenization, preceded by four years of getting Shannoned. The Hurricanes have recruited well here or there and occasionally won a semi-meaningful game over that process—but there’s zero debating that “The U” became a second-rate program in need of a world class facelift.

Enter former Georgia head coach UM alum Mark Richt to clean up the shit-storm.

Richt fell into the Hurricanes’ lap when the Bulldogs cut ties with him in search of a fresh start. The somewhat out-of-nowhere departure paved the way for Miami to land the “home run hire” it’s never really had.

“The U” has birthed it’s fair share of up-and-comers who more than made a name for themselves, but hasn’t plucked an established name in the modern era of the game. Richt checks off that box and many more.

Richt is the fourth of the last five UM head coaches hired to clean up a mess they didn't make.
Richt is the fourth of the last five UM head coaches hired to clean up a mess they didn’t make.

Still, TSN is quick to label the Canes their most overrated team in the ACC this year stating that, “The Hurricanes made a blockbuster hire in Mark Richt, but they’ve been oversold for the last decade. It’s best to believe it when you see it from The U.”

Sort of, but not really.

It’s magazines like the The Sporting News and others who have lumped undue praise on the Canes the past several years—the same publications who praised Al Golden as a head coach, based on his polished speeches early on, hard-working demeanor and loyalty in sticking with Miami when Shapirogate reared its ugly head.

The only ones “overselling” UM were the sportswriters who refused to see through Golden’s facade, broke-ass schemes awful cultural fit, never letting Miami be “Miami” on his watch—talking style of play here, not swag.

The Canes didn’t place one player on TSN’s All-ACC team—and it’s been a lifetime since Miami was putting several future NFLers on that list. If your players can’t scratch the best-in-conference surface, you sure-as-shit aren’t going to make a dent nationally.

Translation; five- or six-loss seasons became the new norm.

An equally as bitter pill to swallow; seeing those recruits who got away over the years shining in this recent ACC’s best poll. Kermit Whitfield was named Fastest Receiver while Dalvin Cook earned Best Athlete and Most Elusive Running Back. Both headed to UM at one point, Whitfield and Cook took their talents to Tallahassee and won a national title a few years back.

Areas where Miami also used to shine; Hardest Hitter (going to Virginia safety Quin Blanding) and Top NFL Prospect (Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.) The Canes earned Top Transfer—former Florida defensive lineman Gerald Willis—another indication that things are out of whack and in need of an overall kick-in-the-ass for the Canes.

Watson’s recent success stole the spotlight for UM quarterback Brad Kaaya, who is primed for a solid junior campaign and should top all these polls for 2017—though TSN was quick to tag him as Miami’s “Difference-Maker” this season.

After mentioning that the Canes haven’t seen a quarterback drafted since Ken Dorsey departed after the 2002 season, they quickly mention Kaaya in the same breath as Watson and drop some his stats last season. Most-impressive; his leading the ACC in passing efficiency as a freshman in 2014, as well as a balls-out performance against Florida State last fall.

Despite losing to the Noles for an unthinkable sixth-consecutive time, Kaaya set career marks in completions (29) and attempts (49) while throwing for 400 yards against the Sunshine State rival.

Shaq Quarterman (pictured), Mike Pinckney & Zach McCloud are a trio of freshman LBs expected to make noise this fall.
Shaq Quarterman (pictured), Mike Pinckney & Zach McCloud are a trio of freshman LBs expected to make noise this fall in the favored 4-3 scheme under new DC Manny Diaz.

Citing 247Sports rankings, TSN praised a few big names Miami hauled in on recruiting day back in February—wide receiver Sam Bruce, linebacker Shaq Quarterman and wide receiver Ahmmon Richards.

All 4-star prospects are expected to make an impact this fall—especially at the receiver spot due to the departures of Rashawn Scott and Herb Waters, as well as this recent season-ending injury to sophomore Lawrence Cager, who was expected to make some big noise this year.

TSN’s actual write-up on the Canes was par for the course regarding a national publication what doesn’t have its thumb on the program’s pulse.

The humiliation 58-0 beatdown by eventual national title runner-up Clemson, letting too much local talent get out of it’s backyard and the hiring of Richt were all front and center. From there, a little blah-blah-blah on the offense line needing to come together, as well as a troubled defense that ranked 69th overall last season.

First-year defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and the move to a more U-like 4-3 scheme was explained with a, “Perhaps that will make the Hurricanes more disruptive after they finished 105th nationally (and 12th in the ACC) in tackles-for-loss last season.”

A 3-4 in Coral Gables for five seasons and the Canes 12th in tackles-for-loss last year. Ain’t that some shit? Former coordinator Mark D’Onofrio better never cross the Dade County line again after that dumpster fire he and Golden Al trotted out since 2010.

For those who’ve tried to put this ugly era out of recent memory, TSN came correct with one final graphic showing Miami’s 36-27 run the past five seasons. Reconfigure that 8-5 run last season to 4-3 on Golden’s watch as interim head coach Larry Scott went 4-2 down the stretch and it was an even uglier 32-25 era-of-stank.

TSN takes the safe route and doesn’t make a win-loss prediction on where Miami will wind up in 2016, but believes that the Canes are definitely trending upwards thank to swapping out a schmo for a pro.

“Richt, unlike his predecessor, has a good idea what he’s getting into and is about as good a blend of fit and ability as the Hurricanes could have hoped for. He knows the terrain, understands what it’s like to recruit in a crucible and could be reinvigorated by a new challenge at this stage in his career. Whether that’s enough to justify considerable optimism for this year is unknown, but there is reason to believe that Miami will be on the upswing soon enough.”

Based on where this program has been the past decade-plus, that’ll work for now.

August 8, 2016


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