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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Duke Edition

Here’s this week’s installment of team grades from Miami-Duke

Miami v Duke Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In their toughest test so far this season, the Miami Hurricanes traveled to Durham, NC on a short week to play the Duke Blue Devils on Friday night. The Canes stormed into Wallace Wade stadium and left with a hard fought 31-6 victory. Here’s our game recap:

Here are your 3 stars from the game:

Now, let’s dive into some analysis/reaction with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Here we go

The Good

  • We won. Again, winning is good and I like doing that.
  • Malik Rosier’s 1st quarter. 8/8, 155 yards, 1 TD passing, and 1 TD rushing in leading Miami to an earl 14-0 lead. The only thing keeping that 1st Q from being 100% perfect was a missed read on zone read where he could have kept the ball. But man, that was something to see. A virtuoso performance from start to finish (of the first quarter).
  • Rosier was also good for the game. He finished 15/26 for 270 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT with 3 sacks. Rosier also ran 15 times for 45 yards and a TD. Solid overall game, but he still runs hot and cold in the pass game, to be fair.
  • THE RETURN OF AHMMON RICHARDS. The Sophomore Superstar made his 2017 season debut after missing 2 games due to injury, and came back with 3 catches for 106 yards and a 49 yard TD. Man, it’s good to see 82 back out there. Completely changes things on offense.
  • Mark Walton. Again, he proved his worth to this team. He fought through and ankle injury which he re-aggravated during the game but finished with more than 100 yards of total offense (51 rushing, 79 receiving), and also lept over a dude, which, yanno, is pretty awesome.
Air Walton
Miami Athletics
  • Pass defense. Duke passed the ball 41 times for less than 166 yards. That’s roughly 4 yards per ATTEMPT. I don’t care who you are, that’s damn good.
  • Pass rush. Miami pressured Daniel Jones repeatedly in passing situations, and ended the game with 5 sacks. That’ll work.
  • Travis Homer’s 40yd TD to end the game. Outside zone, Homer hit that one cut and was GONE up the middle untouched. A quick reminder that this kid is GOOD and will have a major role on this team this season.
  • Michael Pinckney. 10 tackles. 1 sack (a CRUCIAL play on 4th down of Duke’s first possession). 1.5 TFL. And a diving interception on a tipped ball. Have a game, kid!
  • Malek Young. The sophomore CB stepped up to play lockdown coverage against Duke’s best receiver all night long. Great game.
  • Dee Delaney. I, along with basically everybody else, eviscerated Delaney’s play through the first 2 weeks, so I have to give credit where it’s due: the grad transfer played his ass off tonight. With 2 DBs getting personal shoutouts in the “Good” portion of this recap, it’s easy to see why Duke’s passing game was anemic tonight.
  • The return of the Turnover Chain. Michael Pinckney had a GREAT diving interception to earn the coveted chain, and DT Patrick Bethel forced and recovered a fumble in the 4th quarter to also earn his turn with the hardware.
  • 3rd down defense. This is something that Miami needed to step up this week, and after a rough start (2 conversions on the first Duke drive), Miami held Duke to 3/19 on 3rd down the rest of the game. It was tenuous at times, but we DEFINITELY saw improvement in this area by the Canes D today.
  • The sophomore class. Ahmmon Richards. Travis Homer. Micahel Pinckney. Shaquille Quarterman. Malek Young. Each one had a big game today, and their contributions were key to the win.
  • 409 yards of offense with 6.7 yards per play.
  • ONLY 5 penalties for 59 yards
  • 10 points off 2 Duke turnovers (Interception and Fumble, respectively)
  • 11 Tackles for loss and 5 sacks
  • 1 interception and 4 passes broken up
  • Holding Duke, who entered the game averaging 40.7 points per game, to 6 points for the game. Yeoman’s work by the defense. If there were a “great” category of this piece, this would go there. OUTSTANDING work.

The Bad

  • Run game. Miami only managed 139 yards rushing on 35 carries — 4 yards per carry average. The zone read game was good a couple of times, but the called-run (as in, this is a run play, we’re running the ball, there’s no option or RPO element) was largely ineffective. Could that be a bit of Walton still nursing an injury? Yes. Could that be Duke being good at run defense AND loading the box to stop the run? Yes. Regardless, the foundation of a Mark Richt offense is the run game so this needs to improve.
  • Early coverage of slot receiver. Just like the first 2 games of the year, Miami gave up several WIDE OPEN completions to the opposing team’s slot receiver. I know our LBs are good, but if teams are gonna go spread (3 or 4 or 5 wide with a shifty, quick athlete at slot), I think Miami’s going to need to adjust and go nickel more than base 4-3.
  • Navaughn Donaldson vs Mike Ramsay one-on-one. This was a mismatch of epic proportions. Donaldson is huge and strong and talented and is going to be good, but Ramsay is currently much, MUCH better than 55 and it showed. Donaldson was beaten badly by Ramsay on back-to-back plays which led to sacks on an early drive for Miami and killed the momentum. Donaldson’s struggles vs Ramsay even led to him being taken out of the game for a time in favor of Corey Gaynor. . . who was then beaten by Ramsay one-on-one. Donaldson returned to the game and did much better (but still not great) against Ramsay after the one drive benching, but that matchup was very, very lopsided.
  • Miami’s run defense (at times). Duke was able to run the ball very well between the 20s. There were some GAPING holes when Duke ran inside zone — their bread and butter foundational play — and Miami was slow to find answers. Miami DID also have some TFLs against Duke’s run game, so this wasn’t a full time problem, but when it was a problem, it was a PROBLEM.
  • A couple bad angles taken on defense. Duke got extra yardage in the run game on several occasions when 2nd and 3rd level Miami defenders took poor angles and lost leverage on the football. Easy to fix, and they’ll need to with the future schedule picking up in difficulty.
  • Limited carries for Travis Homer. I know Mark Walton is the franchise, but he was dealing with an ankle injury and Miami’s run game was lacking. Homer is a solid, ACC-caliber back who’s better than people remember from when he was a recruit or think in general. Homer has an element of speed that Walton doesn’t, and I would have liked to have seen him get more touches. AND, on top of that, when Miami was up 24-6 in the 4th quarter, Homer should have been the RB the whole time, which would have given Walton a chance to rest more.
  • Limited touches for Mike Harley and Jeff Thomas. Harley had 2 catches and a drop. Thomas was targeted once per the stat sheet but I can’t even remember when he was in the game to be thrown a pass. Those guys are both good and fast, and I would like to see a bit of creativity to get them the ball, especially Thomas, who is an electric athlete in space.
  • Clock Management. Burned all 3 timeouts in the first QUARTER of the game. In the 4th quarter, Miami had a progression of timeout, illegal formation, timeout to use up the last 2 TO’s with like 8 minutes left in the game. 4 timeouts called coming off of the sideline to either start a drive or after some other stoppage. That’s unacceptable. Do better.

The Ugly

  • Zach Feagles’ punt that went -1 yards (no, that’s not a typo)
  • Mark Walton’s almost injury. Like I said in the “bad” section, Miami left Walton in after Richards’ touchdown made it 24-7....and it almost blew up in our faces. Walton went down on the next drive on a physical (but legal) tackle on a run play. Walton could be heard yelling in pain on the TV broadcast, and every Canes fans’ heart stopped for a second. We’d all been tweeting about the fact that, with the game firmly in hand, Miami needed to get Walton out of the game and rest him because he was CLEARLY hobbled all game long, and they didn’t do it...and it almost went catastrophically bad.
  • Dayall Harris’ suspension. 3 games for violation of team rules for a redshirt junior the game after he catches his first Miami touchdown. That’s just terrible.
  • Miami’s offense in the second and third quarters. Early on when Duke went man-to-man, Miami torched them. Then, Duke switched things up, brought more pressure (they weren’t able to get home rushing only 4) and Miami was unable to adjust effectively. This is yet another instance of the long long droughts on offense we’ve seen over the last 2 seasons for Miami and it was baaaaaaaaaaaad. Like, less than 4 yards per play across 7 possessions, bad.
  • Duke’s long drives. Just like the first 2 games, Miami gave up plenty of long drives to the opponent. Duke had drives of 13, 10, 10, 10, 8, 7, and 7 plays. It’s a miracle — and testament to the defense — that Duke didn’t score a TD. But, regardless, that’s too many long drives for the defense. Gotta get off the field a bit earlier.

Team Grades

Offense: B

When the offense was in rhythm, it was a beautiful thing to watch. Zone read worked. Passing game was on fire. WRs winning 1-on-1’s all over the field and Rosier dropping dimes. The problem was that wasn’t the case for the whole game. So, the highs were high and the lows were low, but the highs were high enough for me to give the offense a B.

Defense: A-

The ONLY thing keeping me from giving a straight A or A+ was Duke’s run game, which leaned on Miami at times and kept the Canes’ D on the field in key situations. But holding Duke NEARLY 5 TOUCHDOWNS below their average, 11 TFLs, 5 sacks, 4 PBUs, 5 QB hurries, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovered fumble is elite. GREAT job.

Special Teams: C-

Feagles had a NEGATIVE YARDAGE punt. Kickoff coverage was soft (this has been a consistent issue and needs addressing) and gave Duke great filed position after the TD to go up 14-0. Jeff Thomas took a Kickoff Return out of the end zone and only got to the 16. The only bright spot was Berrios on punt return, where he had a couple nice returns and secured the ball on fair catches, which some people hate but I think those decisions were good and gave Miami back the ball so we’ll just have to disagree on that point.

Coaching: B

The team needed to come out fast for once, and finally did. Offense was good, but inconsistent. Defense gave up yardage, but held Duke to a low yards per play average, created 2 turnovers, and held a top scoring offense 5 touchdowns below their season average. Adjustments were seen on defense, and they worked. EVENTUALLY, the adjustments on offense worked, too. Timeout management was ATROCIOUS in this game, but I expect that to be an outlier for future performance. Mike Rumph’s corners, even the previously-torched Dee Delaney, were great. Craig Kuligowski’s DL was dominant. Solid performance by the coaches, but there’s still room for improvement.

That’s it for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Hop in the comments and share your thoughts.

Go Canes