Twelve days.

That’s what it took for the Miami Hurricane’s season to go from promising to essentially over — 12 days.

Any season for the University of Miami has a set of hard and fast goals. Perhaps absurd, given the recent history, but present nonetheless. Miami’s goals for any season look like these, from most to least important:

  1. Win the National Championship.
  2. Win the ACC.
  3. Win the ACC Coastal.
  4. Beat Florida State.

Twelve days from kickoff against Florida State to a kneel down by Virginia Tech, and all four goals are gone.

What’s left?

There is no gold star for making or winning a bowl game. Sure, it’s been a decade since the Canes’ last bowl win. But that’s a nonsense statistic given that when you play in the quality of bowl game the Canes have been frequenting, motivation and external factors tend to dictate the outcome as much as the quality of the team.

Perhaps the better gauge is the last time the Canes played in something you would even call a decent bowl game is the 2006 Peach Bowl, which was a blowout loss to LSU. And the 2016 Canes are extremely unlikely to accomplish something like that.

This iteration of Miami will at best win a nondescript bowl game or, at worst, fail to win enough games to be bowl eligible for the first time since 2007.

Twelve days.

Pathetic offense

The primary reason for the Canes’ collapse has obviously been the offense. Pointing out what is wrong is easy:

  • Can’t pass protect.
  • Can’t open consistent running lanes.
  • Can’t throw consistent passes.
  • Can’t catch.

Fixing it? That’s a lot more complicated. The offensive line can’t be fixed this year. And with better offensive line play, a lot of these cracks can be papered over.

But that isn’t going to happen right now, so the Canes are faced with two options: (1) blindly hope that running the same offense that has failed repeatedly will all of a sudden start working or (2) try something, anything different.

The players are certainly not blameless here at all. There are times when the play works perfectly, right up to the dropped pass. There are times when the offensive line does protect well, only to be thwarted by poor pocket awareness from Brad Kaaya. There are times when there appears to be a hole, but the running back can’t find it.

Here’s the thing with all that: this is the same offensive line as last year. And it has gotten demonstrably worse. In 2015, Miami was 25th in the country, allowing sacks on 4.13 percent of passes. This year? They’ve dropped to 83rd, allowing a sack on 7.22 percent of passes. And the last three games, they’ve allowed a sack on 11.30 percent of passes, which is near worst in the country.

Meanwhile, Kaaya has struggled not only moving in the pocket but also simply delivering accurate passes. This is after 2twoyears of growth that saw him entering the year on what looked like an upward trajectory.

What’s gone wrong? Hell if I know. You won’t have to go far find someone, myself included, who is willing to offer up a solution to this disaster. But no one really knows what will fix it. 

And at this point, simply stating the ways the offense is broken becomes redundant. At least we’re not in an Al Golden/Mark D’Onofrio situation where the coaching staff is trying to explain why the ineptitude we see does not exist.

“I take a big chunk of the responsibility there,” Richt said. “Then obviously you’ve got to protect: linemen, backs, tight ends. Routes got to be run with precision. In the end, the quarterback has got to get the ball out on time when possible. When all that works together, you don’t get many of those sacks but throughout the game we had some issues that probably involved every one of those facets.”

This is certainly preferable to not even acknowledging that there is a sack problem. We’ve moved on to the solutions phase.  

And I suppose they deserve time to fix it before we declare it to be definitively the disaster that has increasingly become as the season has continued. While it is too late to salvage the season and achieve anything close to an acceptable goal, at the very least they can salvage Brad Kaaya.

We’ve seen Kyle Wright and Jacory Harris show signs of brilliance early in their career, only to have them eventually devolve under an avalanche of compensatory bad habits. Brad Kaaya is slipping into that same pattern, and perhaps the best way to do anything productive the rest of the season would be to prevent Kaaya from completing that journey from young star to veteran bust.

Oh look, it’s these assholes

With the season coming apart and the fan base growing increasingly restless, who should show up to unite us in a shared mission but Notre Dame: Catholics vs. Convicts. It’s particularly ironic given that it’s Brian Kelly vs. Mark Richt.

Shame, shame, shame.

Coming into the year, Notre Dame was in the Top 10 and this road trip to South Bend looked like Miami’s toughest game. But then something happened: It turns out that Notre Dame sucks at football.

They’ve already fired a defensive coordinator and their offense has gone completely in the tank, scoring 13 total points over the last two games, all of which has resulted in Kelly receiving a vote of confidence.

This game is essentially the opposite of Virginia Tech. Rather than five days to prepare for a great defense, the Canes have nine days to prepare for a terrible defense.

Motivation shouldn’t be an issue, quality of opponent shouldn’t be an issue. So… how does Miami blow this?

Let’s hope they don’t. At least give us this one little thing: Beat Notre Dame. Show some pride, some sense of history, some ability to rise to the occasion. It’s all they have left.

Playing for pride and to defend the honor of the U on the helmets, in an attempt to add a positive chapter to what used to be one of the more storied rivalries in college football.

That alone should be enough to at least get out of this three-game funk, get recharged, and put together the best team performance since the Georgia Tech game, hopefully getting this season headed back in the right direction.

The goals that were established in the preseason have been rendered unattainable. But going to South Bend and beating the piss out of the sanctimonious asshattery that is Notre Dame football isn’t a bad consolation prize.