What can be expected of the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday when they travel to Durham to play Coastal Division foe Duke?
Their coach, Al Golden, was fired Sunday after the most lopsided loss in the program’s history. Larry Scott takes over in the interim. Their quarterback, Brad Kaaya, suffered a concussion in that game and is questionable for the upcoming battle with the Blue Devils. Backup DT Michael Wyche was arrested on Wednesday for battery and was indefinitely suspended from the team.
And that’s not even the worst of it. On Tuesday the mother of standout junior CB Arie Burns unexpectedly passed away at the age of 44 after suffering a heart attack. A GoFundMe web has been set up for those wishing to help.
Playing a football game after all of that seems like the last thing the team should be burdened with. Or is it the best thing it could ask for in this time of adversity?
Burns, a ball hawk on defense who is tied for third nationally with five interceptions, could be in for the most inspirational game of his young career. He sent out a message through social media on Tuesday night.
“Saturday will be my greatest effort cause that’s what you would want,” he posted on his Twitter account.
And with his Hurricanes teammates behind him 100 percent, we could witness the most inspirational performance of the season from Miami.
At 4-3 overall, the Canes are still in position to become bowl eligible. At 1-2 in ACC play, it seems unlikely that The U can be considered as a viable contender for Coastal Division honors. But a win over a division foe on Saturday could reverse that course and with some football still left to be played, who knows what could happen?
Right in the middle of all the turmoil Scott, in his third season at Miami as tight ends coach and run game coordinator, is elevated to interim coach.
“Obviously this is a team that’s been through a lot the last four or five days,” Scott said in the weekly ACC coaches press conference. “There was a lot of emotion and different things that guys were going through. They really want to come together and play well this week.”
The Central Florida native has deep ties to the Hurricanes program. His brother, LaVaar Scott, was a member of Miami’s last national championship team in 2001. He understands the program and its rich history.
“This is something, this place means a whole lot to our family and runs deep with us, the tradition, style of play, how you want to represent yourself as a Miami Hurricane,” Scott said. “For me it’s really just about the passion and the energy that this place has always been known for.
“Having a chance to really get out and watch guys play the game like men, play the game smart, disciplined, but have fun. Fly around, have energy, fight, play through adversity, play through tough times, just really go out and have fun, fly around, execute and have fun. That’s really what we want to see. That’s what we envision.”
It will be interesting to see if Scott can bring that philosophy to the field through his team on Saturday.
“I think you’ll see a different team that plays with a different energy and a different passion,” Scott said.