For the first time this season, Miami has a weekend itinerary that doesn't include boarding passes or middle seats.
The Hurricanes are hoping it's also free of turbulence.
After decidedly different results from the first two games of the season — an inspiring Atlantic Coast Conference win at Boston College, followed by an embarrassing blowout loss at Kansas State — Miami is finally set for its home debut. The Hurricanes (1-1) host Bethune-Cookman (2-0) of the Football Championship Subdivision today, their last outing before jumping back into ACC play.
"Feels like forever since we started training camp," Miami coach Al Golden said. "It's exciting to come home. I know the kids are excited about it."
The fact that they're excited about anything might be considered a good sign.
A week ago, in a 52-13 loss to Kansas State, nothing went right for Miami. Linebacker Ramon Buchanan was lost for the season with a knee injury, safety Vaughn Telemaque was lost for at least one game with a knee issue of his own, and top receiver Allen Hurns left the game early after getting shaken up and checked for symptoms of a concussion. Hurns will not play today.
So a young team gets younger. Three seniors are expected to be in the offensive and defensive starting lineups, units that are still reeling a bit from a magnitude of issues — six rushing touchdowns allowed, most notably — that popped up a week ago.
"There's no way to sugarcoat it," Miami quarterback Stephen Morris said. "The best thing to do is to learn from it."
A win would help, of course.
Miami beat Bethune-Cookman 45-14 last season, making it seem like that was easy and this one should be more of the same, right?
Both sides know differently.
The Hurricanes gave up 422 yards to the Wildcats, trailed for a long stretch of the first half and didn't put the game away until the final minutes. Bethune-Cookman has won eight consecutive games dating to mid-October 2011 and knows a victory against Miami — even a rebuilding team — would be enormous for the program.
"We come into every game with confidence," Bethune-Cookman receiver Eddie Poole said. "If we execute, we have a pretty good chance of winning the game."
Golden said the Hurricanes had one mantra this week, that being not to let the Kansas State debacle turn into more than one loss. Mistakes were displayed on film plenty of times, with the obvious hope that they're not repeated today.
"We've improved so much this week in practice," Golden said. "We've had spirited practices. We've been resilient. Now we have to carry it into a game with a team that's played with a lot of confidence."