After its most impressive win of the season just a week prior, the Miami Hurricanes were a victory away from sealing the deal and qualifying for a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Thus, you’d expect to see a confident Hurricanes squad prepared to play on senior night.
Our expectations were mistaken.
Up until this game, the Hurricanes seemed to live up to the hype that had built up in the 2019 offseason. With transfers, staff changes and winning football, the ‘Canes looked to have gained their swagger back. However, Saturday’s embarrassing 62-26 loss to North Carolina proved to be a rude awakening.
Here are five takeaways from the massacre in Miami.
Defense is exposed.
This was without a doubt the worst all-around performance from UM all year, especially on the defensive side of the ball. UNC dominated Miami’s defense as they garnered 778 total yards of offense, surpassing the school record for most yards allowed in a game in program history. In addition, North Carolina’s powerful running backs, Michael Carter and Javonte Williams totaled 47 carries for 544 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
The sensational backfield continuously gashed the Miami front seven and sped past the secondary almost every down. The ‘Canes had no answers for the Tar Heels’ run game which was the main reason why the Canes fell to 8-2 tonight.
Although UNC thrived off of their running backs, they also cut up the Hurricanes’ defense through the air. UNC quarterback Sam Howell had a solid performance as he finished with 14 completions on 19 attempts for 223 yards and a touchdown. Howell connected with his favorite receiver, Dyami Brown, four times for 147 yards including an 87-yard bomb. North Carolina’s offense was firing on all cylinders while Miami’s defense pathetic.
Penalties set back UM.
Penalties have been a reoccurring theme whenever Miami struggles in games. In both of their losses this year, the Canes have totaled 22 penalties for 203 yards. Early in the game, The Hurricanes had an opportunity to capitalize off a bad throw from Howell that was intercepted by DJ Ivey, however, before the play, there was an illegal substitution that wiped away the pick and eventually resulted in a UNC touchdown.
These small mistakes added up and deflated the team’s morale. The seven penalties for 68 yards were costly in Miami’s pursuit of winning tonight’s match-up.
Rushing offense was dreadful.
North Carolina contained D’Eriq King’s explosive runs and limited UM to 27 carries for 75 yards rushing. The Hurricanes struggle immensely when they aren’t able to have success running the ball. Miami’s offense thrives off of play-action passes and run-pass option plays. However, the run game must be efficient in order for opposing linebackers and safeties to bite on the play fake.
Miami’s leading rusher, Cam’Ron Harris, was non-existent as he totaled a dreadful 10 carries for 24 yards. UNC’s linebacker, Chazz Surratt, was a big part of stopping UM’s rushing offense. He anticipated every run and totaled 10 tackles in the contest, which included a crucial 4th down stop.
Although Miami’s freshmen running back, Jaylan Knighton, was ruled out for the season, the ‘Canes performance running the ball was inexcusable.
Tackling was nowhere near what it was last week.
Last week, Miami tackled tremendously against the Duke Blue Devils as they averaged 2.1 yards per play and 4.8 yards per reception. On Saturday, it was the exact opposite, as UNC averaged 14.9 yards per reception and 10.1 yards per carry. Miami’s defenders’ tackling technique was flawed. Many defenders would go in for a big hit when they needed to wrap their arms around the ball carrier.
Hurricanes senior Amari Carter was run over by Carter and Williams countless times throughout the game. He would’ve increased his chances of taking down UNC’s pair of future NFL running backs by aiming low and wrapping up at their legs instead of going in for a hit-stick tackle.
Blake Baker is on the hot seat.
Blake Baker’s job is on the line. The Hurricanes’ defense in the past two seasons under Baker has been mediocre at best. However, this game served as the last straw. Although UNC has one of the best offenses in college football, 62 points and 778 total yards of offense is unheard of and unjustifiable. Baker allowed the most points and yards in a game in program history.
Baker didn’t make any adjustments after halftime and the Tar Heels scored on every possession except for a missed 37-yard field goal. The ‘Canes defense seemed lifeless with no energy. Every down on defense seemed as if the team in black was under a trans. It’s Baker’s job is to keep his guys motivated, and that obviously wasn’t the case.
The Hurricanes’ defense couldn’t get off the field which prevented its offense from any comeback efforts. Miami will not exceed expectations with Blake Baker on the sideline.