There are so many ways to look at Saturday's loss to Kansas State and narrow the scope of disappointment and frustration.
> It's just one loss -- out of conference and UM can still turnaround and win the ACC.
> It's Al Golden's third game as coach. Give him time. He's on the right path.
> Jacory Harris played an amazing second half -- his finish half of football since his win at Florida State his sophomore year. Maybe he's put the struggles behind him? Maybe Jacory is on the verge of a rebirth?
Me? I can't just look at it from that perspective. The losing has gone on for too long now. The same mistakes happen over and over and over and over again. Poor tackling. Penalties. Turnovers. Inconsistent quarterback play. Lack of a pass rush. Nothing special about the special teams. Stop me when I get to something you haven't seen over the last five years.
At this point, who hasn't grown tired of the day after search for a silver lining following a loss? There have been plenty of them. 36 wins. 31 losses. That's UM's record since Larry Coker took them to the Peach Bowl in 2005. Temple? The school UM used to laugh at in the Big East? After they rolled Maryland 38-7 Saturday, they improved to 30-35 over the same span. Not such a large gap, huh? Well, that view works two ways: 1. Hope for the future since Golden built Temple into a winner. 2. Man, UM has really fallen that far?
Spin it the way you like, but I see this all one way: the results on the field right now haven't changed a whole lot under new leadership. I'm not pointing the finger at Al Golden. Mediocrity became the University of Miami's middle name under Larry Coker long ago. Randy Shannon did little to erase it. All I'm saying three games into the Golden era, it's clear Golden Al has a lot of cleaning up to do to wipe the stench off the Canes.
Again, don't blame Al. I know it seemed like when he took over a wave of positive momentum was building. He did a nice job on National Signing Day. Spring football showed promising developments. Along the way, he said all the right things. Man, this guy is going to be different than Randy Shannon. With a lot of seniors and some good coaching the Canes might be pretty good. That was the hope.
Well, not yet folks. Al Golden is different and will be different than Randy Shannon. But right now, this football team still plays like it did for Shannon. One week up. Next week down. The win over Ohio State we now know was fool's gold. The Buckeyes, with worse problems at quarterback than Miami, were almost the perfect opponent for UM to play up for. They were ranked, beat UM a year ago and secretly much worse than we really knew. The Canes exposed them.
Saturday, Kansas State returned the favor. Even with Jacory Harris putting up his best half in years, UM's effort still wasn't good enough. What does that say?
Kansas State ran for 265 yards on Miami (UM is ranked 99th out of 120 teams in run defense). Quarterback Collin Klein carved the Canes up. 2nd and 29 from the K-State 3? Klein was off and running for 26. That great red zone defense for UM? Kansas State was 4 for 4 Saturday with four touchdowns. The spectacular Lamar Miller? Except for that career long 59-yard touchdown run, the Wildcats bottled him up. His 17 other carries produced 47 yards. Expect everyone else UM plays to key on Lamar until Harris proves his second half wasn't a fluke. Oh yeah, and then there was that whole 0 for 4 performance from 2 yards out to win the game. What else needs to be said? For all the talent on the Canes offensive line, UM couldn't muster two yards? Sorry. Not good enough.
The post-game explanations? All nothing we haven't heard before.
"We needed to get 2 yards and didn't do it. Its our fault," center Tyler Horn said.
"I should have put the ball in his chest," Harris said of his pass to Clive Walford on first and goal. "But I didn't. That was probably our best shot."
"Too many missed tackles," Spence said of UM's defensive woes. "We didn't get leverage. We just have to go back, keep pushing, keep grinding."
We know. We've heard it for years. But the grind has been going on a long time now and frankly it is getting old -- even with a new guy in charge.
How old? When the oldest guy in the press box -- 83-year old veteran Herald columnist Ed Pope -- says its getting old, you know it's getting old. "They got rid of Shannon for this?" Pope wondered aloud at halftime in the press box named after him at Sun Life Stadium.
It is only 3 games into this season. UM has only lost 2 games. And the Canes only finished 1 yard shy of winning Saturday. But don't confuse it. The distance between mediocrity and glory in Coral Gables is far apart.
Whatever momentum Al Golden was building -- regardless of the Nevin Shapiro saga -- isn't strong enough to make a quick and immediate impact. I'm not saying we should have expected a quick turnaround. But again, that was the hope. It's clear now it takes more than better coaching. Losing has become embedded in the Canes' DNA. That doesn't disappear overnight. Or over two or three nights.
Canes fans need to strap themselves in. The up and down ride is going to continue. As for this season, just know on days when the other team shows up with a decent quarterback it could end up being a frustrating afternoon. That's what we've learned about the 2011 Canes. The rest? All repeat history.