There’s a month left in the season, but it’s inevitable: when a team loses enough games to slip out of the postseason picture, the thoughts of a fanbase turn to next year. If championships aren’t in the immediate future, it’s natural to want to take stock and assess if things are really on the right track.
That can lead to a mental debate, as you watch a team fall from 4-0 to 4-3.
Do you hope, or do you mope? Or is it a mixture of both?
Let’s go inside the heads of Hurricanes fans on either side, to lay out the case for …
“It’s only Year 1 of the Mark Richt era,” the hopeful fan says. “He and his staff are just getting started.
“Brad Kaaya throws some gorgeous passes, man. Maybe he’ll come back for another year. He’ll have rising star Ahmmon Richards, a returning big man Lawrence Cager, reliable veteran Braxton Berrios and a bunch of talented true freshmen to throw to. Not to mention Dionte Mullins, who could make an impact with a year under his belt.
“What about his tight ends? Is there a team out there that wouldn’t want a senior-year Chris Herndon and a junior-year David Njoku in its lineup? With senior-year Joe Yearby and junior-year Mark Walton leading the way, Miami’s running backs room will be as deep as anyone’s.
“And say this about the offensive line: it’ll be their third year together, and the new recruiting class could yield a few gems. Lose Danny Isidora, but maybe Trevor Darling can switch to right guard, and Tyree St. Louis shifts to left tackle, and the whole thing clicks. Maybe that LSU transfer is the real deal. Maybe a five-star signee comes in and steals a spot. Anyway, that group will have another year under its belt.
“And we haven’t even got to the best part yet. The defense. Oh, the defense.
“The front seven is going to be ridiculously good. Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, Zach McCloud and Joe Jackson in their second years. RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton a year stronger, faster and wiser. Chad Thomas as a senior, Demetrius Jackson as a junior, terrorizing quarterbacks off the edge. Are you kidding me? Every one of those guys is pro-caliber, and they’re babies. Every member of the second string will be back, and there’s a few hungry pups (hello, D.J. Johnson) in the recruiting class. Speaking of that, the secondary might lose experience, but the talent level may not drop too far with prospects like Trajan Bandy and Amari Carter joining Sheldrick Redwine and Jaquan Johnson.
“You gotta love where the Canes are headed.”
“Mark Richt didn’t win a national title at Georgia, so where’s the proof he’ll do it at Miami?” the non-believing fan responds. “Craig Kuligowski and Manny Diaz are good, but who else on the staff has proven anything? A lot of those guys are on their first job.
“Not only is Brad Kaaya a statue, he’s going to leave and the Hurricanes will have a quarterback who doesn’t know what he’s doing. Even if N’Kosi Perry is the truth, he’ll be a greenhorn. Stacy Coley leaving means Miami’s only proven playmaker at wideout will be Ahmmon Richards. Expect double-coverage. And he leads the team in drops this year, anyway. Plus, where’s the deep speed in that unit?
“Tight ends? Chris Herndon and David Njoku haven’t proven anything. Why are we still talking about their potential? They’re in their third years at UM. Yeah, Mark Walton and Joe Yearby are solid, but they aren’t Duke Johnson-fast. The offensive line … let’s not even go there. That’s three recruiting classes away.
“Yeah, the front seven is good, but by next season the depth will have increased just a little, when a lot more is needed. You can’t play Shaq Quarterman, Mike Pinckney and the rest of those linebackers all game, all season. The main problem is, Sheldrick Redwine and Jaquan Johnson will be the most experienced defensive backs left. Two starting safeties and the best player on the team, Corn Elder, will be gone. Teams are gonna throw on us all day.
“Not only that, no more Justin Vogel … gonna be another long year, bro.”
Where do your Hurricanes politics lie: hope, mope or a mixture of both? Like local and national politics, I’m sure there’s a range of nuanced opinions. Sound off in the comments, hit me up on Twitter or send an email to get it off your chest.