Manny Diaz puts Miami football season in perspective with altered ACC Divison, schedule

Dec 5, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports /

Head coach Manny Diaz discussed the progress the Miami football team made in 2020 improving from 6-7 to 8-2.

The Miami football program improved from 6-7 in 2019 to 8-2 in 2020. Head coach Manny Diaz made big strides with the Hurricanes in improving the culture. Diaz has upgraded the roster in the two years since he has been the head coach and more talent is on the way with the 10th ranked 2021 signing class.

In speaking with the Miami announcing team of Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr., Diaz acknowledged the work that needs to be done after the season but put the season into perspective. If there had been regular divisions without Notre Dame this season, Miami would have won the Coastal in spite of the loss to North Carolina.

The 2020 season has been a clear success. A third-place finish in the ACC with Clemson and Notre Dame going to the College Football Playoff is a big feat. The ability for Miami to defeat Pittsburgh the week after the 42-17 loss to Clemson showed the strength to overcome adversity. Miami has to show it again.

The 62-26 loss to UNC was one of the worst in the history of the Miami football program. Miami allowed program records 778 total yards and 554 rushing yards to the Tar Heels.

Diaz discussed

the season, how COVID affect this year, the elimination of divisions by the ACC for 2020 and how the original schedule would have turned out.

"“We improved as a program and that’s the most important thing…We’re not where we want to be, but we’re not where we were. It’s important to take that in context. Winning the week after we lost to Clemson and being able to refocus and run off five straight wins was a big part of what defined this team.”This has been a big step for us. Look: We finished in third place in the conference and one of the teams that finished ahead of us [Notre Dame] is not in our conference.If we were in the Coastal [there were no Atlantic Coast Conference divisions this season in the COVID-interrupted season], we would have won the Coastal, for the second time in school history.We lost non-conference games [Temple, Michigan State, Wagner were dropped because of COVID-19] that I feel confident we would have won. Who knows what our won-loss record would be if we played that original 12 [game schedule].There is no reason to think it could [not] have been 11-1 going to Charlotte to play Clemson. That’s a step. We’re not trying to finish third in the ACC. That’s not the goal. [But] it’s a step from where we were… Our players have learned some good lessons.If we can fight the selfishness, if we can stay connected and play for each other, Miami looks different than maybe some things that reared their ugly head in the past. That does give us a platform to build on.”Transcript courtesy Barry Jackson Miami Herald"

The focus in the short term for Miami is to defeat Oklahoma State in the Cheez-it Bowl on Tuesday. A victory over the Cowboys can build momentum for the 2021 season. Miami won the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl, which is the same game as the Cheeze-it Bowl, 31-14 against West Virginia.

The win in 2016 was the Hurricanes fifth straight to end the season. That victory propelled Miami towards extending the winning streak to 15 straight with 10 consecutive victories to begin the 2017 season. Miami won their only ACC Coastal Division title in 2017 and had an exhilarating 41-8 victory over Notre Dame that November.

Ending the season with a victory can create a positive feeling for everyone around the Miami football program. Oklahoma State is a good test. The game between the Hurricanes and Cowboys is the only bowl game outside the New Year’s Six between two ranked teams. Miami will be tested against a good team.

Next. Mark Richt expects Miami fans to be patient. dark

The Hurricanes have a young roster. Defensive ends Jahfari Harvey, Cameron Williams and Chantz Williams will receive the most extensive playing time of their careers against Oklahoma State. Fixing the run defense against Oklahoma State will also be a priority for the Miami defense. In a sense, the 2021 season begins Tuesday.