Miami, Florida – The Miami Hurricanes’ greatest fears have been seemingly realized. Coach Manny Diaz is now the latest to test positive for COVID-19. On Friday morning he joined at least 16 other college coaches who have been infected by the coronavirus. Florida State’s Mike Norvell and Florida’s Dan Mullen also contracted the disease. For those in need of a quick refresher, the last few weeks have been challenging for the Miami Hurricanes football program.
Miami coach Manny Diaz announced on Twitter that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The No. 12 Hurricanes' scheduled game against Georgia Tech on Saturday was postponed earlier this week because of COVID-19 issues inside Miami's program. pic.twitter.com/qHL3TH1BV8
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 20, 2020
On October 24th, an hour before their game versus Virginia, six UM players were abruptly listed as “unavailable”. The number grew to 11 by the time they took on NC State on November 6th, increasing again to 13 nearly putting off the bout with Virginia Tech. On Monday night, both the team and the ACC announced the postponement of the program’s next two games, allowing them time to get the coronavirus outbreak under control.
The news has forced the conference to alter its schedule as part of a wave of cancellations and postponements across NCAA football. Wake Forest also reported its own outbreak, canceling its game against Duke this past Saturday. After adjusting their schedule, if all goes well UM will go on the road to play Wake Forest on December 5th before hosting North Carolina and Georgia Tech on December 12th and 19th respectively to end the season.
Currently, it has not been reported that any of those affected on the team requires hospitalization which is great news. So now the big question is what happens next moving forward. Entering the season there was always the possibility of an outbreak. Diaz mentioned back on November 9th that the program had contingencies to deal with situations surrounding the coaching staff. But even he cautioned there was no guarantee it wouldn’t affect the team.
Statement from Miami Director of Athletics Blake James after the announcement that three Miami games will be rescheduled: pic.twitter.com/txgH8p8DEL
— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) November 16, 2020
Despite their best efforts, COVID-19 has reared its ugly head. With so much going on, nothing is guaranteed. Not even the completion of the season. As Diaz so aptly put it, this isn’t a college football problem but an ongoing crisis hitting most of the country at the same time. One of the team’s affected areas is the O-line. The five starting offensive linemen played all 86 snaps without substitution against the Hokies according to the coach. This shortcoming showed as quarterback D’Eriq King was sacked no less than six times. The Canes rallied to win 25-24 but it’s clear they’re nowhere near the desired level of potential.
So what’s causing it? Are they playing down to the competition, are they distracted, or has the coronavirus outbreak really sapped them? The fact they’ve won their last three games has been something of a miracle. UM has impressed in the sense that in spite of an outbreak ripping through their squad, they showed grit. Reminds me of the Miami Marlins to be honest. However, unlike the Fish, the Hurricanes still retain much of their talent.
Ending it with a bang
When the season began everybody knew Miami had circled the day they face Clemson. It was the test to show whether or not the U was indeed back. Those hopes were dashed. However, there is still plenty to cheer for. Standing at 7-1 overall (6-1, ACC) the Hurricanes are still in the thick of it. With a bit of luck, they can end up in the ACC Championship game. Another loss by the Tigers or an unthinkable collapse by Notre Dame clinches it for UM, assuming they win their three remaining games.
While it’s true they’ve lost a chunk of their players, the Canes still have plenty of weapons. The O-line is short but they have D’Eriq King, Cam’Ron Harris, Mike Harley, Dee Wiggins, Brevin Jordan, and others. The offense remains potent. Zach McCloud and Jared Harrison-Hunte are out but the defense is rocking guys like Jaelin Phillips, Bubba Bolden, and Amari Carter. We also can’t forget about FIFA himself, Jose Borregales. That is why I don’t think the COVID outbreak is the sole reason for the team’s struggles on either side of the ball.
The team will have to focus on getting healthy again and stop playing down to their opponents. UM should win their last three contests (don’t sleep on Wake Forest) but it’s the remaining home games that could be troublesome. UNC suffered embarrassing losses to both FSU and Virginia but they’re 2-0 against ranked teams (Hokies and Wolfpack). They host No. 2 Notre Dame in less than a week. Georgia Tech currently sits at 2-5 but last year derailed the Miami Hype Train, defeating the Hurricanes in overtime.
— South Florida Sun Sentinel (@SunSentinel) October 19, 2019
Of course, this is all assuming there’s a season two weeks from now. With the COVID-19 numbers rising, sports might be the very last thing on people’s minds.