Keep an eye on Miami’s mentality Saturday night when the 17th-ranked Hurricanes visit 18th-ranked Louisville. Whether the Hurricanes can handle themselves through adversity or prosperity is a big reflection on their makeup, and it’s a bigger reflection on coach Manny Diaz’s teaching skills.
Diaz, in his second season, must show UM has reversed its ways from last season’s disastrous 0-3 ending that included losses to FIU, Duke and Louisiana Tech. During that stretch Miami blew assignments, made silly mistakes and never found the fortitude to rally after things went wrong.
This season must be different.
UM can't collapse mentally this year. It mush show poise and maturity.
Miami began showing those traits in last week’s 31-14 season-opening victory over Alabama-Birmingham. The Hurricanes trailed, 7-0, after they lost a fumbled punt. UM only led, 14-7, at halftime.
But they kept a good mentality, according to Diaz and quarterback D’Eriq King. They were calm. No one got panicky.
UM scored 17 points in the third quarter to take charge and it cruised to victory from there.
The key is the UM players, who, granted, were more talented than UAB, maintained an even mentality throughout the process.
Give credit to Diaz and his coaching staff.
Similarly, if UM collapses against Louisville, put blame on Diaz and his staff.
This is a relatively young Miami team. It doesn't know how to conduct itself in big games. It takes its cues from the coaching staff. That’s part of the reason the Canes have new members of the coaching staff (most notably offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and offensive line coach Garin Justice) this season.
Louisville will test Miami in a number of ways: UM is playing an ACC road opener; UM is playing its first road game during COVID-19 times; UM is playing an equal or better opponent; UM is playing a dangerous offense. Pick your challenge.
The Hurricanes, and Diaz, must show this is a new day, that they're a new team with a new mentality.
UM’s recent high point was in 2017 when it trashed third-ranked Notre Dame, 41-8, and eventually rose to No. 2 in the nation.
Since that victory UM is 15-16 overall and 9-10 in the ACC.
The Louisville game offers Miami a chance to climb to .500 since the Notre Dame game and show that a reversal of fortune is underway.
We’ll be able to tell a lot in that regard, and a lot about whether Diaz’s message is sinking in, by watching UM’s mentality, win or lose, Saturday at Louisville.