Saturday night at the Hard Rock Stadium fans witnessed a thrilling showdown between the Miami Hurricanes and the Clemson Tigers, two 4-2 teams fiercely vying for victory. The stakes were high, and the atmosphere electric for a game that was crucial for both teams regarding the direction of their season. With Miami’s starting QB TVD sidelined due to an injury, all eyes were on true freshman Emory Williams as he made his first-ever collegiate start against the ACC’s top defense. Despite the odds, the Hurricanes emerged triumphant with a 28-20 double overtime victory, marking a pivotal moment for the program.
Recent games had cast a shadow of doubt over Miami. Succumbing to Georgia Tech and UNC in succession, the team’s performance was marred by mental lapses, turnovers, and a lack of discipline. It seemed history was repeating itself, reminiscent of the challenges faced under past leadership. The lingering question was whether the touted “culture change” under Cristobal was real or mere rhetoric. In a previous write-up, I had expressed concerns about the team’s direction:
“Cristobal’s emphasis on culture and his mantra “How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything” now hangs in the balance… As the Canes prepare to host Clemson next week, the scrutiny on Cristobal’s ability to mend the recurring mistakes and foster a winning culture intensifies.”
However, the Canes’ response this Saturday was nothing short of exceptional. They showcased a resilience previously unseen under previous administrations. Even when trailing 17-7 after Clemson’s score, the spirit of the team remained unbroken. The Canes responded in a way no other Canes team has responded in the past. They didn’t fold, nor let past mistakes haunt them. In the past Canes teams would not just have quit on the game but on the ENTIRE SEASON and mentally checked out after going down by double digits. But the Canes didn’t quit, and Emory Williams’ infectious enthusiasm rallied the offense, culminating in a touchdown pass to Young, narrowing the gap to 17-14.
Displaying tenacity and skill, and behind one of the best offensive lines in the nation, Miami ran the ball at will in an eight-minute drive that tied the game at 17, and eventually clinching victory in overtime. The match saw the Hurricanes overpowering Clemson’s defense and sealing the win with a massive goal line stand where Corey Flagg telegraphed Klubnik’s play call.
This victory signified more than just a win; it ended a 13-year streak of losses against Clemson. The Hurricanes demonstrated that they were no longer haunted by past failures. They addressed the issues that plagued them in the preceding weeks, evidenced by their positive turnover margin (plus two on the night) and staunch defense, holding the Tigers to a mere 31 rushing yards. The Canes held Clemson to 28 % on third down conversions while they converted 50% of third downs and ran for 211 yards against the best defensive front, they will see in the ACC this year.
The tangible improvements exhibited by the team are indicative of a genuine culture shift. The absence of any humiliating defeat to a G5 team this year, their ability to overcome elite teams like A&M, and their resilience in the face of adversity all point towards a changing ethos.
Bain’s post-game comment captured the team’s mindset perfectly: “We said drop our nuts and play football. That’s what we did.” The culture at Miami is indeed evolving. While challenges lie ahead, the Hurricanes have showcased their ability to rise from adversity. There might be a few more bumps this season and that is to be expected, but Miami is 5-2 when they were 3-4 at this exact same time last season. In seven games they matched their win total of a 12-game season. In seven games we saw them at their darkest and climb up out of darkness that has engulfed past teams and win significant culture-changing, games. Miami is on its way back.
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