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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: ACC CHAMPIONSHIP Edition

Let's talk about the game and give out some grades.

NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Clemson vs Miami
Deejay Dallas was one of the few glimmers of hope in a dreary performance by the Canes.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

It was our first ACC Championship game. It was our first real shot at the College Football Playoff. Unfortunately we fell short, well short. Our fairy tale season came crashing down almost just as quickly as it started. Let's take another look at our night in Charlotte.

Check out our recap here: RECAP: Hurricanes avoid shutout in ACC Championship loss to Clemson, 38-3

The Good

  • Turnover Chain early for Trent Harris (although it was a gimmie with a muffed punt.)
  • Orange Bowl Bound: We're still likely headed to our best bowl game in over a decade.
  • Defense holds Clemson to a 3 and out after a Canes turnover in Miami territory. Nice to see some fight in the 3rd quarter.
  • This first holding call against a Miami opponent in 13765429 plays.
  • Tons of Miami fans in the stands despite the game being played driving distance from Clemson.

The Bad

  • Opening quarter defense: We used our speed on defense to set the edge and prevent some runs to the outside, but Hunter Renfrow singlehandedly picked apart our secondary on the first drive. After that we just struggled to stop anything.
  • Canes 3rd Down Defense: We just could not get off the field. The Clemson punter barely needed to suit up tonight. Clemson was 7/10 in the first half.
  • Quality of the game: From a fan standpoint, it was very difficult to watch.

The Ugly

This:

  • Penalties: 2 false starts in our first 4 plays, and more littered throughout the game.
  • Missed opportunities early: After starting the game with a 3 and out, we got the ball back from a muffed punt. We really needed points from that drive, but Michael Badgely missed a field goal wide left. Next drive, we stripped a receiver after a 30 yard gain, only for Malek Young to miss the fumble recovery and another opportunity for a Turnover Chain.
  • Offense in the first quarter: 22 total yards. 0 points. We needed a fast start. We had the complete opposite.
  • Malik Rosier's continued struggles: For the second week in a row, Rosier couldn't hit open receivers down the field. Finished 14-29, 110 YDS, 0 TD 2 INT.
  • Energy Level: We just didn't look prepared for this game in any way. Physically, mentally, emotionally. We weren't better than Clemson in any facet tonight.
  • Injuries: We came into the game missing our top running back, receiver, and tight end. Once the game started, defensive players started dropping left and right.
  • The run game: 37 yards in the first half. We needed more in this area to have a shot in this game. Deejay Dallas came in the second half and had a bit of success leading the Canes with 8 rushes for 44 yards. Travis Homer never got it going, finishing with 41 yards on 14 carries.
  • First big pass of the second half, Jeff Thomas tries to make something happen and puts the ball on the ground. Total momentum killer. Next possession, pass goes through hands of Darrell Langham for an interception. Third consecutive possession, ball tipped at the line for another pick.
  • Losing the Turnover battle. It was Our focus the whole year, and we were successful in that area every game leading up to this one. Not a great time to lose.
  • Garbage time: Backups were in for Clemson to start the 4th quarter. Miami made a QB change to start the 4th as well. Never a good sign.
NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Clemson vs Miami
It was just that kind of night.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Team Grades

Offense: F

The closest we came to until late in the 4th was a missed FG on the second possession of the game. We couldn't have had a worse 2 game stretch from this group. Clemson was consistently in the Miami backfield. There was no rushing attack, and we couldn't hit a receiver when the season depended on it. We hit a field goal late in the 4th, but that was only because our offense couldn't be trusted to convert a 4th and inches from 11 yard line.

Defense: D+

They made an occasional play. They forced Clemson to put the ball on the ground. But they couldn't fall on a fumble (other than the muffed punt at the beginning of the game), and they couldn't get off the field in the first half (Clemson was 7/10 on 3rd downs). Only gave up 68 yards rushing, but that was the smallest of silver linings in this performance. Probably the best performing unit for the Canes, but still weren't good enough to win this game.

Special Teams: F

Missed our only FG attempt that would've given us some momentum in the first quarter. Zach Feagles struggled punting the ball and had to be replaced. Clemson routinely kicked off to the 5 yard line and Jeff Thomas couldn't take advantage and help with field position.

Coaching: F

The players were not ready to play this game, and nothing they tried came even close to stopping the bleeding. Coaching was not the only problem, but it definitely was part of the equation.

NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Clemson vs Miami
This was not the performance we needed from Malik Rosier, or anyone else for that matter.
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Everything that could go wrong went wrong in this game. There were eerie similarities to the 58-0 drubbing that claimed Al Golden's job back in 2015. Much has been made about how that defeat helped change the trajectory of Miami's football program, and hopefully this similarly rough meeting with Clemson will have a similar effect and propel this program even further. While a spot in the College Football Playoff now seems like it was much further away than it initially appeared, there's no doubt we are much closer to the promised land than we were before the season. Let's hope the Canes can get it together and make us proud in (likely) the Orange Bowl bowl later this month. Feel free to vent in the comments. We're all in this together.