Greg Stoda: Al Golden trusts Hurricanes not to lose hunger after beating Gators

The task for the Miami Hurricanes these days is to keep from getting too far ahead of themselves.

There’s a need for patience, and the ‘Canes should be well-suited to meet that challenge. They’re still awaiting word from the NCAA on penalties stemming from the Nevin Shapiro booster scandal for crimes that came to light more than two years ago.

And so it is that coach Al Golden, who has done a marvelous job of keeping the ship steady in long-rough waters, faces the task of striking a delicate balance between moving on from an uplifting 21-16 win against Florida two weeks ago and nurturing the giddy optimism that victory generated.

Not that Savannah State presents any kind of obstacle Saturday night in Sun Life Stadium.

No, this is a longer-term challenge for the 16th-ranked Hurricanes, who crave the opportunity to re-introduce themselves to the national stage. It’s why the success against the Gators can be so important a springboard if kept in proper perspective.

“You can’t understate that,” Golden said. “It was a big win for our guys, and the way we did it was equally rewarding. We stood toe-to-toe. We won on defense. We took some punches, and counterpunched.

“We had a quiet confidence and a very matter-of-fact preparation going into that game. We didn’t really worry about the opponent. I think our guys gleaned a lot from that.”

There’s every reason to believe they have.

“The sweet thing with my coaching staff,” tight end Clive Walford said, “is, whether we win or lose, they’re always the same no matter what the circumstances are.”

The present circumstance is that the Hurricanes are 2-0 with a growing confidence about the realistic possibility of being undefeated come Nov. 2 for an ACC showdown at Florida State. The assignments between now and then are Savannah State, at South Florida, home against Georgia Tech, at North Carolina and home against Wake Forest.

There’s nothing there that looks like the heaviest kind of lifting.

But that kind of thing is getting too far ahead of the story, and Golden knows it.

He does, however, have an explicit trust in this team. Asked what he liked best coming out of the emotional win against Florida, Golden said, “Honestly? Their approach (the next day). We wouldn’t have done that a year ago. Everybody here watching film. Everybody was lifting. A bunch of guys ran. A couple of guys ran who weren’t supposed to run. They ran, because they wanted to get better.”

He said the win against Florida – the program’s signature victory two-plus years into Golden’s tenure – is in the “rear-view mirror.”

It wasn’t a pretty triumph in that Florida’s ineptitude offensively was the biggest story of the game, and to extrapolate UM greatness from the result would be a mistake.

Golden knows that, too.

“Again, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far,” he said. “But in terms of being pleased with our play? We have a long way to go. We’ve played two and won two. They’ve had a great frame of mind (since) training camp. I’m happy about that. But we have everything in front of us.

“What I am proud of is all the guys who stood with us during this tough time. They had a chance to punch through and see the sun a little bit against Florida.”

It was a welcome bit of relief for the Hurricanes.

How long it shines, apart from the pending NCAA ruling, will depend in large part on UM’s ability to make the most out of its win against Florida without basking in its reflective glory.

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