Maturity, consistency next step for Canes

December, 30, 2009
12/30/09
3:03
PM ET
It wasn't Jacory Harris' fault.

[+] EnlargeRandy Shannon
AP Photo/John RaouxRandy Shannon has compiled a record of 21-16 in three seasons.
No, this was a group effort.

Harris was sacked four times when Wisconsin rushed four or fewer players and once when the Badgers brought five or more, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He didn't get the protection he needed, but he also contributed a few of his own mistakes. Because Miami couldn't run the ball, though, it was up to Harris to win the game with his arm. Meanwhile, the defense couldn't get the Badgers off the field, and Wisconsin had the ball for almost 20 more minutes than the Canes.

The frustrating thing for Miami fans had to be the fact that Miami played poorly and still had a chance to win. They won the turnover battle. They had fewer penalties. They showed those flashes of electric plays -- the reverse on the opening kickoff and recovering the onside kick -- that championship teams make. But the Canes were just 2-of-11 on third downs.

It was a deflating loss for both the ACC and Miami, as a win would've likely pushed the Canes into the top 10 heading into 2010, but that doesn't mean Miami won't finish there next season. This program has improved each season under coach Randy Shannon, and the loss to Wisconsin doesn't erase that progress. But it is time to raise the level of expectations again. Harris will be a junior. The majority of the team will be coming back. It will be the second season under the new coordinators. Youth and coaching transitions should no longer be an excuse.

The bottom line from the Champs Sports Bowl is that Miami still isn't where anyone associated with the program wants it to be. It's not a shocker. Miami had enough up and down performances this year to know that. But that consistency will come with maturity. It's just time for the Baby Canes to finally grow up.

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