The No. 7 ranked Miami Hurricanes had an opportunity to claim its biggest upset in over a decade. However, they simply failed to compete for a full 48 minutes.
The No. 1 ranked Clemson Tigers never hesitated from capturing a victory at Death Valley, defeating the Hurricanes 42-17 to extend their regular-season winning streak to 36 games, tying Miami (1985-88) for the fourth-longest in the AP poll era.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence came to play, completing 29 of 41 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns. The Heisman front-runner added 34 yards and a score on the ground. Running back Travis Etienne was a difference-maker, garnering 222 all-purpose yards – 149 yards rushing, 73 receiving – while racking up two touchdowns.
As for Miami’s D’Eriq King, it was the first time we’ve seen him struggle wearing orange and green.
King accounted for just 121 passing yards on 12 of 28 completions, all while throwing his first two interceptions of the season. He did have an impressive 56-yard rush, however, along with a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.
To put it into simpler terms, the Manny Diaz led squad was simply outplayed, and it put them in an uncomfortable position.
“We’re very disappointed in the way we presented ourselves,” Diaz said postgame. “… We have to look at why we performed the way we performed.”
Here are five takeaway’s from UM’s first loss of the 2020 season:
1.) Miami fell right into Clemson’s game from the get go.
Using the 1-2 punch of Lawrence of Etienne, Clemson forced the Canes into a game plan they’ve yet to come against; the patient game. The Tigers used a variety of screens and short passes to keep the sticks moving while wasting time that would eventually deflate UM’s efforts.
Mix that into multiple offside calls, and it was nothing but trouble for Blake Baker’s defense.
Clemson opened the game scoring on the first two possessions, all while holding the ball for a total of 12 minutes and 31 seconds. As for Miami, their offense was on the field for just 2:29 in the first quarter.
King had already been sacked three times with 14:00 left in the second quarter, obviously limiting him from producing efficiently. Miami entered Saturday’s contest allowing just three sacks the entire season.
The Tigers continued adding chances to capitalize with field-goals, but they were blocked twice, one ending up in a Hurricanes touchdown before entering halftime.
Even though things seemed to get better for Miami, they once again fell into the trap, which resulted in a blowout-fashion loss.
2.) Penalties damage Miami, who many believed left that issue behind them entering the season.
Miami’s 15 penalties accounted for a total of 135 yards, more than they totaled in the passing game (121). Those negative yardages bit the Canes since their first defensive possession, as an offside kept Lawrence’s Tigers on the field despite an incomplete pass on 4th and 4. Clemson scored two plays later.
Yet again, the Canes were sloppy in tackling, resulting in two targeting calls by safety Amari Carter and striker Keontra Smith. Both were ejected, and Smith will be forced to miss the first half of next Saturday’s home game versus Pittsburgh.
On the offensive end, Miami had six total penalties, resulting in a loss of 40 yards.
“I cannot fault our effort, but our discipline made it very difficult to execute,” Diaz said.
3.) Bubba Bolden came to play.
If there’s one person deserving of some props, it’s safety Bubba Bolden.
The redshirt junior finished Saturday’s loss with a team-high 10 total tackles, 8 solo, 2 blocked field-goals and 1 forced fumble. His first blocked kick was a 61-yard attempt before halftime.
Bolden tipped it, falling in the hands of DJ Ivey, who took it 48 yards for a touchdown, cutting their deficit to 21-10. Later on, Bubba got his hands on another kick with 5:20 left in the third quarter, resulting in a 13-yard gain by Corey Flagg Jr.
4.) Miami’s Brevin Jordan-less receiving core has to pick things up.
With Brevin Jordan out with a right arm/shoulder injury he sustained in the third quarter, coach Diaz obviously pointed towards his receiving duo of Mike Harley and Dee Wiggins to step up.
That was simply not the case.
King seemed disconnected with the two, resulting in multiple under-thrown passes and even an interception intended for Wiggins in the end-zone. The two totaled 41 yards receiving, a let down, to say the least.
While Miami’s struggles wasn’t directly due to that, it’s an issue needed to be fixed for a redemption win against the Panthers.
As for Jordan’s condition, he says he’ll be ready to play next week, hinting that his injury is nothing serious.
5.) There’s time to turn things around.
It’s not the end of the world. Better yet, Saturday’s loss was a chance to learn what’s needed to defeat a team unlike no other. If all goes well, they’ll meet again in the ACC Championship, where the stakes are much higher.
As for the team’s chemistry and what’s next, they seem to all be on the same page. Winning is a priority at the U, and they’ll make sure a loss like this never happens again.
“We’re focused on Pitt,” Bolden said. “There are a lot of emotions. Nobody likes to lose, especially not me. I’m not a loser. We have to move on, move forward and get back to work.”