OPINION: The Middle Ground

No, the Sky isn’t falling. Though some in the fan base may have you believe otherwise. We can’t choose how the game ended, but we can certainly choose how we feel about it.

Some of you are natural optimists, pessimists, or even realists. Some of you actually have the ability to be happy and choose not to. Some of you only want the truth. Some of you can’t handle the truth. Let me introduce you to a couple friends of mine.

“Negative Nancy” – The “pessimistic” POV.

– Cannot find any good from the performance.

– Would rather be right than win.

– Fully expected to lose before the game, yet still unhappy with the likely outcome.

– TVD has regressed. Gattis broke him.

– Gattis sucks. Can’t do anything of value

– “Mario is trash/runs too much/too conservative”

– “App State beat TAMU; we should’ve too!”

– FSU is going to boat race us (Toast)

– Lashlee beats TAMU, I don’t care what you say!

– Same old Miami / NO MORAL VICTORIES!

Mario Cristobal vs Bethune Cookman

Mario Cristobal vs Bethune Cookman

“Oscar the Optimist” – The “uber-optimist” POV.

“Stay away from negative people, they have a problem for every solution”

– Just happy to compete with an SEC opponent on the road. When was the last time we did that?

– Realizes that TVD is underperforming so far this year; he’ll figure it out. He’s a first round pick, after all.

– Blip on the radar – 11 win season; ACC Champs; CFP!

– Happy to see a more than competent offensive line.

– The defense is looking very good.

– Gattis won the Broyles. He’ll figure it out.

And then there’s Riley the Realist. Riley trying to get a word in edgewise while Nancy and Oscar duke it out is often times a dilemma. The realist sees things differently and by no means are they happy with the results. But nor are they taking a flamethrower to the Coach Cristobal/Josh Gattis era after three games.

They are called a Nancy by the Oscars and an Oscar by the Nancy’s. But all Riley is trying to do is diffuse the situation with some some facts and observations and welcome people to a space they call “The Middle Ground”. Here’s what Riley wants you to think about.

Despite everything, Miami came into the game vs. Texas A&M as an underdog. The majority of the fan base had this game pegged as Miami’s first loss of the season. What happened? Why the sudden vitriol? Texas A&M losing to perpetual pest Appalachian State at home happened and it sent the expectations through the stratosphere.

Fast forward to Saturday night. The stakes were high as Coach Cristobal lead his team on to Kyle Field for his team’s first real test. A team that was led by Manny Diaz last season. A team that was constantly embarrassed in these moments. Kirk Herbstreit put it bluntly on the broadcast, the Miami Hurricanes fold in these games. But guess what happened? This team played a full four quarters of football.

Miami finally showed up for a big game and looked like it belonged, unlike they have the last 15+ seasons. If you look at the final stat sheet without knowing the score, it sure looks like Miami should’ve won this game by three touchdowns. But we didn’t and here we are, with Nancy and Oscar at each other’s throats.

The Hurricanes came out and were the aggressor for four quarters and physically dominated the game at the line of scrimmage. The ground attack amassed 175 rushing yards while the defense held TAMU to 124 yards in the same category. The offensive line also kept TVD’s white jersey clean, not allowing a sack to a very big and talented Aggies’ defensive line.

The defense came to play and play it did. TAMU only had two drives that went over 50 yards. One of TAMU’s touchdown was on a (really, really, bad) muffed punt that led to a short field. Other than that, the defense played well enough to win.

But it wasn’t all rainbows, unicorns, butterflies, gumdrops and candy. The above mentioned special teams error plus two missed FGs were some of the glaring negatives. But the 800-pound elephant in the room was glaring at the offense and particularly upset with the offensive efficiency in the red zone.

Scoring zero, I repeat ZERO, touchdowns is never good. Ever. Especially on the road in one of the loudest venues in the game. Having four chances in the red zone amount to four field goal attempts (three made), also not good. 21-41 passing (51.2%) from your star quarterback isn’t good enough either.

Seven dropped passes is horrible. And some on crucial, potentially drive extending and game saving plays. Not being able to get the long passing game going against a young (but talented) and depleted Aggies secondary ended up being another decisive aspect that lost Miami the game.

Josh Gattis came to Miami as the reigning Broyles Award winner as the best assistant in College Football. It’s time to prove his worth. He and TVD have nearly three weeks to figure out what’s going wrong in the passing game before ACC play begins on October 8th. Of course that is when the Tar Heels come to Hard Rock Stadium.

A loss is a loss. Absolutely. And losing sucks. But Coach Cristobal’s vision for the culture and the future of this program was on display for the whole nation to see. This team didn’t fold. This team showed and played with energy for four quarters. There are multiple things that need to be fixed. Let’s allow them to be fixed before we bring out the pitchforks.

It’s OK to be a Nancy. It’s OK to be an Oscar. But Riley’s have more fun. The Middle Ground is a safe place to be.

(CREDIT Ryan Raskin for additional Contributions to this article)

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About the Author: Tony Valdes

Tony Valdes was born and raised in A-Rod’s hood of Kendall, FL.  As a life-long, die-hard Canes, Dolphins and Marlins fan, his fandom has been tested on many occasions but his passion is always strong – thank God for the Heat.  Other passions include his family, his friends, music, good food and good drinking.  He is one of the Co-Hosts of the “Canes Call In” podcast.

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