"You live and die with this program"

In 1989 and 1991, University of Miami offensive line coach Mario Cristobal won national championships as a player under Dennis Erickson. He later coached at Rutgers University under former UM defensive coordinator Greg Schiano before coming back to Miami in 2003 as the tight ends coach.

Now, having taken over as offensive line coach for Art Kehoe who was an institution at Miami, Cristobal is facing the pressure of having to turn an average offensive line that has had trouble protecting Kyle Wright into one that can become a wall for him, one that former quarterback Ken Dorsey enjoyed when he had the likes of Bryant McKinnie, Joaquin Gonzalez and Brett Romberg on the offensive line.

More than any coach on the Hurricanes staff, Cristobal tells it like it is given all the criticism the coaches and the players have received following losses to Florida State and Louisville.

"Some people want to lash out at the media. That's not the way it works," Cristobal said. "You came to Miami. You've chosen to be under the microscope. You've chosen to be in the spotlight. Come out and get it done. And if doesn't work, you regroup, you stay together, you circle the wagons, you fight and you get it done as a grown ass man."

But that's where the problem lies for Cristobal. Most of his linemen are simply not grown ass men as he put it.

The two most important parts of the line are babies in comparison to what Miami has usually started. At left tackle, he has Reggie Youngblood who is a sophomore, and at right tackle he has a true freshman in Jason Fox.

But the answer is simple for Cristobal.

"You put it on yourself as a coach and on yourself as a team. There are no other excuses. And there is no other way," Cristobal said.

"They (the young linemen) are coming along pretty decent. They are on point with assignments, in terms of where they have to go and how they have to get there. Guys are playing with great effort, but physically, we have to hold up a little better."

However, it's simple when it comes to Miami. Winning is all that matters and it's all the fans accept. And it's all the players and coaches should accept when it comes to playing and coaching in Coral Gables.

"Bottom line, if you don't win, nothing is good enough," Cristobal said. "No aspect of the game is. It just has to be to the death, life and death on every single play."

It's thought process such as that which shows how much of a Hurricane Cristobal was, is and always will be. He expects excellence of himself. He demands it in his players. He wants to see his offensive line be successful and will do whatever he needs to do in order to make that a reality.

"You live and die with this program. You kill yourself and you kill yourself until you get it done. You have faith in your people, you have faith in yourself. Are we young enough to mature enough quickly? Yeah. You do whatever you have to do to get it done, don't make any excuses, don't lash out at crap and point fingers, eat it like a man and you go forward."

Now it's time to turn the tough talk into action on the football field.

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat can be reached at rudy@canestime.com

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