CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Miami was flying high after seven games last season, undefeated and back in the Top 10 of the national polls for the first time in four years.
Seven games later, the story is much different.
With former players lashing out against current coaches on Twitter, and now already facing an uphill climb in the Atlantic Coast Conference race, the Hurricanes aren't exactly in a great place right now. Monday night's 31-13 loss at Louisville left a sour taste in any mouth associated with the program, and may have served as a reminder of how far the program still has to go before truly becoming a power again.
"We didn't execute really well," said Miami coach Al Golden, now 22-16 in his three-plus years with the Hurricanes. "At times we had some mental breakdowns that was something that we did not see coming and then the number of negative plays we had really put us behind the eight-ball."
They couldn't get the guy with the 8-ball tattoo really going, either.
Duke Johnson — the star running back who wears No. 8 for Miami — had 90 yards on 20 carries in his return to the lineup after missing the final five games last season with a broken ankle. But 56 of those yards came on three carries, meaning he averaged 2.0 yards on the other 17 attempts.
"They did their job," Johnson said, "better than we did ours."
So in the end, Miami already has a loss in the ACC race, and now has been beaten five times in its last seven games — all of those losses coming by at least 18 points.
And some former players have seen enough.
Twitter tends to be a caustic place after Miami losses, and cries of "fire everybody" are not exactly hard to find from posters. But a number of ex-Hurricanes — who, unlike most people in the tweeting world, don't hide behind veils of anonymity — lashed out after the Louisville game to express their frustration.
"It seems like we are reacting instead of dictating the game," wrote former All-American Phillip Buchanon, who played for Miami's last national championship team in 2001.
Golden himself acknowledged that Miami could, and probably should, have gone about some things differently in the opener. Playcalling seemed very basic at times, perhaps understandable given that Miami was starting true freshman Brad Kaaya at quarterback.
But Miami's biggest issue was mistakes. The Hurricanes started two drives inside the Louisville 10 and managed only three points, total. They gave up a touchdown on a kickoff return. And a Kaaya-to-Johnson pass that would have gotten Miami inside the Louisville 5 early in the fourth quarter was nullified by an illegal-receiver-downfield penalty that seemed to have very little, if any, bearing on the play.
"We know we have things to clean up this week," defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo said.
On a short week, no less. The Hurricanes (0-1) play host to Florida A&M (0-1) on Saturday night, a matchup that Miami should win easily over a lower-division opponent.
Golden still has the support of the administration, largely because of how he had to deal with the NCAA investigation into the acts of a rogue former booster, a chapter of Miami history that ended less than a year ago. But it's also clear that many at Miami hoped for a big year, and while there's still plenty of time to rally it didn't get off to a start anyone envisioned.
"Still a long season ahead of us," Chickillo said. "Emotionally, we're fine. It's disappointing, but we know we can be a good team."