Greg Cote: Worst performance of season suggests UM was overrated

University of Miami's Shayon Green pulls down Virginia Tech's J.C. Coleman in the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013.
University of Miami's Shayon Green pulls down Virginia Tech's J.C. Coleman in the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013.

The University of Miami football team debuted alternate uniforms Saturday night that featured no individual surnames stitched across the shoulder, only the word Hurricanes. That turned out to be just as well. What self-respecting UM player would have wanted to be identified by name as a part of a night and result so desultory?

Association by numeral seemed sufficiently cruel.

This was the Canes’ worst performance of the season — by a lot.

That wasn’t last week’s 41-14 loss in Tallahassee, because Florida State, of a higher plane, dominates everybody. And it wasn’t any of those narrow, late escapes by Miami against lesser teams like Wake Forest.

No, it was this.

It was this rain-drenched 42-24 home loss to Virginia Tech at Dolphins stadium that marked a season low because the stakes were so high.

“They have to decide which way they want to go,” UM coach Al Golden said of his team following its second consecutive loss. “They have to get their minds right and move on.”

This was the opponent you felt you were better than and were favored to beat.

This was the result that snatched control over where this season might end right out of UM’s hands.

This was the performance that made an Atlantic Coast Conference championship-game rematch with FSU veer from likely to much less so.

This was the loss that made an invitation to a major BCS bowl game seem less probable now than a consolation ticket to some second-tier affair.

As steady sheets of rain soaked the stalwart crowd of 49,267, this was the night that would cause the 11th-ranked Hurricanes (once as high as No. 7) to surely tumble down the polls like a man falling down stairs.

This, too:

Have the Canes been over-ranked?

Are they anything special or just pretty good?

A loss like this — when there was so much reason for UM to win — makes you wonder, especially with that early-season signature win over Florida seeming decidedly less impressive now that the Gators have slithered to a 4-5 record.

Stephen Morris threw 81- and 84-yard scoring passes for UM and just about nothing else went right in a game ESPN beamed to the nation.

Miami’s defense reverted to sorry shades of last season, allowing 549 total yards and making Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas look like he invented the forward pass. (Thanks in part to shoddy tackling that Golden called “egregious,” and to UM’s safeties playing almost comically deep).

The Canes’ special teams were as bad, speciously so, with two lost fumbles on kick returns and a muffed punt leading directly to three Hokies scores.

“Just inexcusable,” said Golden. “I’m embarrassed by it, to be honest with you.”

Offensively the Canes had zero balance in the injury absence of injured star runner Duke Johnson, managing a negligible 28 net yards on the ground.

Virginia Tech dominated time of possession, too, by almost 2-to-1.

Just a bad performance all-round by a team that knew it would assure itself a rematch with FSU in the ACC title-game by winning Saturday night and the rest of the way.

Miami in 10 years in the ACC has never played for the conference championship, earning that right last season but denied it by the self-imposed postseason ban related to the NCAA investigation.

Golden considers Frank Beamer — who has coached Tech since game stories were etched on stone tablets — to be a mentor. Recently, Beamer sent Golden a note lauding him and Miami for the way they handled that elongated, just concluded NCAA probe. The gesture moved Golden.

Beamer showed no such kindness Saturday night. His team was close to dominant.

The chance to get what was taken from them a year ago and the chance for revenge against the Seminoles — those two dangling prizes should have filled the Canes with such hunger and drive Saturday.

Instead, it was an unranked, supposedly offensively challenged Tech team that lost its previous two games to Duke and Boston College that was made to look like a national power.

And it was the near-top-10 Hurricanes who were made to look like interlopers who had somehow snuck into the polls and had just been found out.

When the game gone bad finally ended, the rain still falling, about the only fans left in the stands were the out-of-state visitors cheering for the wrong team.

Read more Greg Cote stories from the Miami Herald

In this May 5, 2013 photo, Miami Heat team president Pat Riley, left, coach Erik Spoelstra, and LeBron James, right, poses in Miami after James won the NBA Most Valuable Player award.


    Greg Cote: LeBron-Heat saga unfolds, and it’s stranger than first thought

    It is three weeks later, and LeBron James’ departure from the Heat and Miami continues to occupy a murky space somewhere in the gray between amicable parting and bitter divorce. There is rancor unspoken, bad blood wrapped in outward civility. Everyone is trying to play nice, maintain the high road, but it feels disingenuous.

Washington Nationals pinch runner Nate McLouth is safe at home plate in the eighth inning as Miami Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis applies the tag at Marlins Park on Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

    In My Opinion

    Greg Cote: Just call the Miami Marlins the Merlins because they’re magic

    It’s funny how in sports there are varying ways to see Fortune .500. The Dolphins go 8-8 and it’s unfortunate. It gets the general manager gone and leaves fans empty. It feels like losing. But the Marlins get back up to even and fans feel as if they’ve hit the lottery. The climb is fulfilling. It feels like winning.

Head Coach Joe Philbin, at center, during Miami Dolphins practice at Dolphin Camp on Saturday, July 26, 2014.

    In My Opinion

    Greg Cote: Signs suggest Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is on the hot seat

    There are new windscreens on the fences surrounding the Dolphins’ practice facility at Nova Southeastern University in Davie. They bear a new message this season, one written unmistakably in 6-foot tall white, block letters against a turquoise background:

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category