Couldn't help but notice the difference in UM's post-victory lockerroom last night. Different because in year's past, a 14-13 victory against a 16-point underdog at the Orange Bowl wouldn't have satisfied anyone in a Hurricanes jersey or polo shirt.
Yet, the Canes were beaming. There was joy, relief and satisfaction. Most Canes fans probably see it as a negative. And needing a gutsy fourth-down conversion to beat a team like Houston does show how far the program has fallen since it won the national title in 2001. But instead of focusing on the negatives (Greg Olson's loss of confidence, Jon Peattie's continued struggles and Kyle Wright's inconsistent passing), Canes fans should start to become a little more realistic as far as the 2006 season and the future is concerned and begin focusing on some of the positives.
UM finally found a playmaker -- RB Javarris James, finally showed some heart (rallying in the second half and from 10 penalties) and finally created big plays on defense (four sacks and a key turnover in the third quarter to swing the momentum). And oh by the way, the o-line didn't give up any sacks. Canes fans of course demand perfection and only would have been satisfied with a perfect game. But this team is taking baby steps and by current standards, last night's win should be considered a leap forward.
Miami had zero confidence coming into Saturday's game. Now, they have a little. With North Carolina, FIU and Duke still remaining on the schedule before the real tests (Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech) that's still plenty of time for the other problem areas to improve. We all knew before the start of this season, UM wasn't going to contend for much more than the ACC title. We knew it was going to take time for the new coaching staff to begin seeing results. We knew there was some young playmakers (Sam Shields, James) and it was going to take them some time to begin contributing. So far, that's what is happening.