Hurricanes Motivated Headed into 2018 With Eyes on Repeated Success

Written by Erik Slaby

Charlotte, NC- After 15 years in the Atlantic Coast Conference and years of trying to win the Coastal Division, reach that elusive ACC Championship Game and win the ACC, the Miami Hurricanes partially reached that mountaintop last season but lost to the Clemson Tigers in the title game. After starting 10-0 last season, Miami lost their final three games to the Pittsburgh Panthers, Clemson Tigers and to the Wisconsin Badgers in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

The theme at ACC Kickoff for Miami has been one of building on their successes from last season and learning from their missteps. The Hurricanes haven’t forgotten those final three losses to end the season and after analyzing and ruminating on those losses, they’re using them as a teaching tool and motivation. Miami safety Jaquan Johnson spoke about those losses and the experience that they gained from it.

“Well, we used those three games that we lost,” said Johnson. “We try to not lose them. We talk about finishing. That’s one of the main things. We’ve got to start fast and finish strong. We started fast last year, but we didn’t finish strong. In Wisconsin we let that game go, come up here to Charlotte, and I get we get surprised by the big stage and lose that. Then we slipped up at Pitt, lackadaisical, missing throws, not executing on defense, things like that we can’t do. We have to have an attack mindset the entire season. That’s the only way you can win it all.”

Miami wide receiver Ahmmon Richards added that he believes this season they are more prepared and equipped to play with teams like Clemson and “it just comes down to the little things.”

“You may see they have a lot more talent than us or they’re more experienced in big games than us,” said Richards. “But I feel like we can play with them, “You just watch the film. It’s little plays that make a big difference – whether it’s on offense, defense or even special teams. It’s little things that will literally make the difference in the game.”

While Miami has been looking back and trying to learn from the past, they are keeping their sites focused on the 2018 season. Miami has to replace five starters on the offense, four starters on defense and All-ACC kicker Michael Badgley. Miami head coach Mark Richt, with a smile on his face jokingly mentioned that kicker is the hardest position to fill right now as, “we don’t have a kicker yet.” The number one kicker recruit in the country last year, Bubba Baxa, doesn’t join the team until later this summer and it seems that until then, Miami will not have a kicker.

If the younger players do not step up and fill the void left by the previous players, Miami could have a tough training camp and potentially season, ahead of them. Miami will not have an easy start to the season either as they face off against the LSU Tigers in Arlington at AT&T Stadium so the team will need to be ready to go right off the bat. Johnson spoke about playing an opponent of LSU’s caliber.

“I mean, opening up against LSU, we all know that it’s not a slouch team, SEC competitive team,” said Johnson. “Looking forward to going out and competing every day just like us.” He also added, “you always have to pay respect to the opponent that’s in front of you. But the team, we’re excited, we’re motivated, and we’re working hard towards LSU.”

If Miami starts off with a win against LSU, that would be a major feather in their cap and give the team a great deal of confidence heading into the rest of their season. Miami begins their regular season at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on September 2nd.

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