Miami's nose dive saw them lose a tightly contested game against Florida State and then go on to lose their next three games against lesser quality opponents (UVA, PITT, SCAR) finishing 6-7 after going 9-4 the previous season.
The story of the 2015 Hurricanes so far before the season is one of change, camaraderie and commitment to a single cause.....Winning.
"As a whole we feel like a team now," were the words of 'Canes middle linebacker Raphael Kirby when speaking about the 2015 Hurricanes. "As a whole we have team guys not ME guys. Guys want to do whatever is best for the team it's not about personal accolades."
As one of the team leaders Kirby's words at ACC Kickoff on Monday carry a lot of weight. in one aspect saying the team is all committed as a unit is great for the fans to see but does that not come with a little bit of an imply that maybe things were not that way last season? It’s a concerning point as football is the ultimate team sport and a cohesive unit will prevail over a unit in turmoil more often than not.
Brad Kaaya echoed many of Kirby's statements about the team coming together but also spoke about where the teams focus needs to be.
"It’s not just about Florida State, its about the Coastal as well,” said Kaaya. “All of our dreams and aspirations, everything that we want to accomplish as a team and individually it runs through the Coastal."
Kaaya's "team first" mentality shows the characteristics of why he's a great leader for the team and there's no better example of focus on the task at hand then Kaaya's considering he has been named to the Maxwell award (College Football player of the year) and the Davey O'Brien (CFB's best quarterback) watch lists.
"I’m not even thinking about that. We didn't finish how Miami should finish last season. I don't want to be on a podium next December I want to be playing." said Kaaya.
Kaaya wants his teammates to share success with him, and with guys from all over the country the sophomore quarterback from California wants his players to band together and help each other become great.
"Cohesiveness has always been something we've needed to gain as a team in general because our locker room dynamic is unlike most schools…” said Kaaya. “Get to where guys can approach others and hold them accountable instead of saying 'Hey why did you miss class? You're about to get kicked off the team get out of here.' Its actually saying 'hey you okay man? What's going on? How's your Mom, How's your baby girl? How's this? How's that?' Just being able to Coach guys better is what we've strived to improve."
In a sport that is dominated by brute strength and raw athleticism it’s the mentally strong who seem to be able to carry their bodies through the warfare of a season and to come out on top on the other side is a huge accomplishment. The Miami Hurricanes still have plenty of work to do on the field but with this step forward fans can believe it’s safe to say the Hurricanes are in good hands the next few seasons with their young but mature signal caller.
With Kirby enforcing the defense, and admitting this is "the most unified I have ever seen a defense" there is a lot of optimism for this team to become something better than they were previously. It’s going to be time that this program either steps up back to its winning ways or steps back into memories of "the glory days" and what once was. The Hurricanes have found strong team leaders and in the process found it’s cure.
The Hurricanes will open up the season against Bethune-Cookman on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. EST on ESPN3.