Like most coaches, Miami’s Al Golden said he would prefer to live in a perfectly consistent world.
This team has to be testing his sanity, not to mention his blood pressure.
“We’re anything but consistent right now,” Golden said.
They’re crazy Canes. And they’re one of the most exciting ACC teams to watch right now.
Miami is young. It’s wildly unpredictable from quarter to quarter let alone week to week, but it’s hard not to smile at so many you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me plays in the past two weeks. This is a fun, scrappy group of players who don’t know any better but to ditch the old me-first Miami attitude and play their hearts out for Golden, and it’s both infectious and entertaining.
And it's leading the Coastal Division.
“It’s fun,” Golden said. “It is fun to coach. They play hard. They’re nowhere near flawless, to say the least, but they just keep competing, they’re in good condition and they have unity.”
Never in his career has Golden been involved in back-to-back thrillers as he was the past two weeks. In Week 4, Miami scored the final 23 points to beat Georgia Tech 42-36 in overtime in Atlanta. Miami took a 19-0 lead to start the game, but trailed 36-19 at one point in the third quarter. Last week, Miami beat NC State with 19 seconds remaining when quarterback Stephen Morris found Phillip Dorsett for a 62-yard touchdown pass.
“You can’t hold up to too many like that in a row,” Golden said Sunday.
His players can, though.
Golden said they were “bouncing around the building” on Sunday, all smiles. It’s a much more confident group since returning from the loss to K-State on Sept. 8 in Manhattan, Kan. One week after going on the road to open the season with an important win at Boston College, the Canes were flat-out pummeled at K-State, 52-13. It seemed as if nothing went right, and it was a humbling experience.
“That was a tough experience for a lot of the young guys,” Golden said. “I think they believe in each other right now. Although it’s not perfect, they don’t blame. They don’t make excuses. They try to keep going forward.”
It’s hard not to look at the past when realizing what a difference that is. Miami has lacked not only the leadership to win as it did the past two weeks, but it also has lacked the emotion -- one of the biggest criticisms of teams under former coach Randy Shannon.
This team has both.
“They know there’s a lot to learn and we’re nowhere near perfect,” Golden said. “We have to continue to improve, but we have been improving. I know it doesn’t always show on given plays, but we are improving. I know they sense it, and they’re excited about having success and obviously about the challenge that presents itself this week.”
Miami is ranked No. 100 in the country in scoring defense. Its rushing defense is No. 112. It had three missed field goals against NC State. This team is not pretty. Even Golden knows at some point, those weaknesses are going to catch up to the Canes if they don’t fix them quickly. As of right now, though, the Canes are finding ways to win and are in the midst of their first three-game winning streak since 2009.
Miami shouldn’t beat Notre Dame. The Irish have the better defense. They are ranked. A win against the No. 9 team in the nation? Against the nation’s No. 3 scoring defense?
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Just like Miami.