The Miami Hurricanes are one of the most storied programs in college football, winning six national championships during their historic run. After a disappointing season last year, however, the program has been beset by controversy both on and off-the-field.
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA (AP) — On a night when Miami recognized its 2001 national champions, the current Hurricanes defeated NC State 31-30 in a game they sorely needed to win.
Miami played with increased vigor and drive behind freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, a day after athletic director Blake James indicated he couldn’t make any assurances regarding coach Manny Diaz’s future. Van Dyke passed for 325 yards and four touchdowns, putting Miami on the right track to snap a two-game losing run.
Diaz refused to comment on James’ words thereafter, stating simply, “Blake and I have had and continue to have a wonderful relationship. But it’s all about the competition here. Competitors want to compete, thus whatever news breaks 24 hours before kickoff either has or doesn’t have anything to do with our competition. There’s nothing more I can say about the subject.”
Diaz preferred to concentrate on how amazing it felt to watch his team triumph after two agonizing defeats to Virginia and North Carolina.
“They might have come back Tuesday or Wednesday, and who knows, we may have difficulties, and everyone comes back to work, practices fantastic, and prepares great,” Diaz said. “Despite the fact that Friday’s run-through was the greatest of the year, it’s on a knife’s edge. It might have gone in any way. It’s possible that they’re all like this. I’m simply pleased that their efforts have been recognized.”
Diaz praised his team’s mental toughness and perseverance, but he also credited remarks made by Van Dyke earlier in the week as a trigger. According to Van Dyke, “We have a lot of faith in ourselves… They won’t be able to stop us, I believe.”
During the week and before the game, NC State players utilized it as incentive, making sure to speak to Van Dyke during warm-ups.
Diaz added, “We knew that was going to stir up NC State’s men.” “Allow that to enrage our men. We’ve been waiting for someone to make a move since we lost D’Eriq [King]. Tyler instilled in our team a sense of confidence with what he said and the confidence he exuded. We backed up what he had stated.”
Miami received the opening kickoff and drove right down the field to make a statement. NC State seized a 27-24 lead early in the fourth quarter in a back-and-forth affair. But Miami had been in this situation before, since the previous two games had also gone down to the fourth quarter.
This time, Van Dyke came through with the plays that needed to be made.
On the Canes’ last drive, Will Mallory scored a big third-down convert, giving Miami a 31-30 lead. The Hurricanes were able to run out the clock on the game with the convert.
“We were stopped and couldn’t complete the previous two games in those kind of circumstances,” Van Dyke said. “It felt incredibly nice to everyone on the team to follow through on it right there.”
Other than that, it was a unique game since Miami commemorated the 20th anniversary of their last national championship squad at halftime. Former players Najeh Davenport, Bryant McKinnie, and Antrel Rolle donned Sean Taylor No. 26 jerseys in commemoration of their late teammate, who was a freshman on the 2001 squad. Larry Coker, a former coach, also made the trip.
That group continues to serve as a reminder of Miami’s standard. The tremendous expectations and pressure placed on the head coach at Miami will never go away, which is why Diaz has received so much criticism from the fans this season.
Players claimed later that they were unaware of James’ words, but that they understand how important it is to win.
Van Dyke said, “We adore Coach Diaz.” “We’ll continue to fight for him. We’ll continue to fight for each other. He’ll continue to prove everyone incorrect.”