What’s the Hurricanes’ mantra after loss to LSU? ‘We still have a chance, we’re not out of it’

The Hurricanes have played just one game this season, and there are already plenty of issues to address. 

Some of the items on the list: Uneven quarterback play from Malik Rosier, an inexperienced offensive line, an injury to star wide receiver Ahmmon Richards and too many shanked punts from Zach Feagles.

But there is one reason for optimism after Sunday’s disappointing 33-17 loss to LSU at AT&T Stadium.

“We have a long season,” Rosier said. “If we go out, we win every game, we’re probably going to face Clemson or Florida State, one of those [ACC] Atlantic schools. If we go out and beat them, they’re going to be a top-10 team. We still have a chance of making a national championship. If you go out and win the rest of your season and your division, you still have a chance. We’re not out of it.”

As ridiculous as that seems right now, Rosier is right. Teams have won the national championship after losing the opener in the past, like the 1983 Hurricanes team that fell 28-3 to Florida to start the season but went on to win 11 straight on the way to the national title. 

To think Miami will pull that off again this year is improbable at this point, especially with their weaknesses exposed in Sunday’s loss. Many of the same weaknesses that hurt them in last year’s season-ending three-game losing skid made an appearance.

Rosier was inefficient, completing 15-of-35 passes for 259 yards and one touchdown while also throwing two interceptions. He’s now thrown four touchdowns and seven interceptions in his past four games dating back to last season.

“Malik had some bright moments,” coach Mark Richt said dispelling the notion that Rosier was the problem against LSU. “You know, he certainly made a few great throws. And we made some great plays. And we just dug the hole so deep, it was very difficult to dig out.” 

The Hurricanes’ new-look offensive line was shaky in its debut, allowing four LSU sacks. Miami also finished with just 83 rushing yards. 

“So we went against premier athletes, and there's a lot of times we protected extremely well and gave the quarterback time,” Richt said as he defended his offensive line’s play. “And we got people open and threw and caught it and then those few times we didn't. But really we ran the ball well. You know, maybe we should have kept banging away and running the ball a little bit more early on. But, just from my vantage point from the sideline, I didn't feel like the offensive line was the reason why we were struggling.”

Feagles shanked a few punts Sunday and finished with an average of 36.4 yards per attempt against LSU, not far off from the 38.6 yards he averaged as a freshman last season. His first three attempts Sunday went for an average of 25.3 yards.

“He's been punting it just extremely well all camp,” Richt said when asked about Feagles’ performance. “Just super, super consistent. And then the very first shot out of the canon, he got shook just a little bit. I don't know if he would admit to that, but I think he did.”

Then there are the penalties and injury concerns. 

The Hurricanes were penalized 11 times for 85 yards Sunday. 

To make matters worse for Miami, Richards and defensive end Demetrius Jackson suffered knee injuries against LSU. Richt seemed hopeful after the game that both setbacks are minor, but both players have also missed extended time with knee injuries in the past.

“We're not getting doomsday from the doctors,” Richt said. “Sometimes the doctor starts wiggling around and they're like uh-oh. We didn't get that feel.”

And the Hurricanes insist it’s not doomsday for them yet either. Win the rest of the games on the schedule and Miami will find itself in the ACC Championship Game for the second consecutive season.

That was the mantra following Sunday’s loss, even as unrealistic as it seems right now.

“I think all of our hopes and dreams are still alive,” Richt said. “I think a lot of people would try to bury us at this point but the reality is there's a lot of games to be played and just about anybody who's won a championship has lost at least one game somewhere along the way. And you know, if we looked like a team that's really getting stronger as the season goes on, we've got all of our goals ahead of us.”

[Hurricanes show their fight in pregame and then come out flat in disheartening loss to LSU]

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