Manny Diaz doesn’t and shouldn’t believe in moral victories

ORLANDO, FL - AUGUST 24: Head Coach Manny Diaz of the Miami Hurricanes arrives to the stadium before the Camping World Kickoff between the Florida Gators and the Miami Hurricanes at Camping World Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - AUGUST 24: Head Coach Manny Diaz of the Miami Hurricanes arrives to the stadium before the Camping World Kickoff between the Florida Gators and the Miami Hurricanes at Camping World Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Miami Hurricanes 24-20 loss to Florida on Saturday night in Orlando had reasons for optimism. After the game, Manny Diaz said it is never OK for Miami to lose to Florida.

The play of quarterback Jarren Williams, the performance of tight end Brevin Jordan and having a chance to win at the end were all positives for the Miami Hurricanes in Saturday night’s 24-20 loss to Florida in Orlando. Manny Diaz liked his team’s effort but said in the post-game it is never ok for the University of Miami to lose to the University of Florida.

High intensity, rivalry games are always difficult and emotionally exhausting, especially when you lose. Saturday’s loss will be a tough one for the Miami Hurricanes to take. Miami is not scheduled to play Florida again until 2024 in Gainesville. Losing to a rival you do not play annually is even more difficult to sit with.

Miami played with a lot of effort on Saturday night. In a game with five lead changes, the Hurricanes could have been demoralized numerous times and given up. In the lead up to playing Florida Diaz stated various times one of the keys would be how well would Miami handle adversity. The Hurricanes did that fairly well.

There were some instances that Miami let the emotion of the game get to them. A critical unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Al Blades pushed the Hurricanes back from the Florida 25 to the 40 following an interception. The took Miami out of field goal range. The strategy for the Hurricanes would have been different to begin the drive.

Blades penalty was one of 14 for 125 yards to go with ten sacks allowed by the Miami offensive line on the night. Blades owned up to it on twitter after the game. That is quickly the sign of a mature player realizing his mistake. It is not to say that it will not happen again. Blades will better able to control his emotions better next time.

Manny Diaz acknowledged that he is pleased with the effort that his team gave. He wants to raise the expectations of what a game, season and overall program is for the Miami Hurricanes. In the past, it was national championships. Diaz has mentioned that. For now, Diaz discussed the aftermath of the loss to Florida.

"“I thought our guys played with a lot of courage…I think they played with a lot of effort. But it doesn’t matter because we lost the game. We came here to win the game and it’s not OK at the University of Miami ever to lose to the University of Florida…Everybody in that locker room feels the pain of that right now.”"

Diaz did discuss the team positives from Saturday night. He elaborated on overcoming their own mistakes and big plays by Florida to come back and get the lead. Manny Diaz was furious how the Hurricanes collapsed during losses last season to LSU and Wisconsin in which he felt they gave up. That was clearly not the case against Florida.

"“Well, we talked about all offseason about developing a backbone, being able to withstand a punch, which happened to us in the first half with the long catch and run by Tony.  And then that happened the second half when we fumbled the punt and they score on the short field and a couple times where it’s like, well, I don’t know.Maybe it’s not your night and you can kind of let go of the rope and I thought our guys looked those situations in the eye, fought through them, and ultimately gave ourselves a chance to win the game with 10 seconds left in the game throwing the ball in their end zone.”Like I said, that’s what a big time program should do. You don’t pat yourself on the back for not quitting but it is something. And that was a big point of our off season.”"

Diaz’s point about not patting yourself on the back about not quitting is poignant. That should be expected of any college football program. Particularly with one with as much history as the Miami Hurricanes have in football. You do not win five national championships without starring adversity in the face and overcoming it.

On the flip side of the tenacity Miami showed against Florida, Manny Diaz was disappointed in Blades taunting penalty against Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks and a chop block against Corey Gaynor one play later. Miami went from first down on the Florida 25 to first and 25 on their own 45 a play later.

"“A crucial point in the game was when we got the big interception. And this just shows we’re not ready to be a big time team yet. We get a 15-yard penalty for taunting. And on the next play, we got a 15-yard penalty for a chop block. We gave away 30 yards on really what might have been the winning change of possession — play the game.And that just means we don’t have the maturity level to see a victory through. So, again, that’s a process of what we have to learn, and we’re obviously not there yet.”"

dark. Next. Cleaning up mistakes critical during bye week for Miami

Miami started seven players with sophomore or freshman eligibility on offense and two on defense. Blades and safety Gurvan Hall were the two defensive starters who are sophomores. A lot more than that played. Four true freshmen played for Miami on Saturday night.