There are a lot of words written below. You’ll read about a game that had a lot of promise for the Miami Hurricanes, despite struggling against a Duke team that had lost five in a row to Virginia, UNC, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Wake Forest and six of their last seven.
Something happened some time before the FIU game or I have no idea when that shifted the small amount of momentum Miami had built following three straight wins over Pitt, Florida State and Louisville.
Disturbing is one way to put it. Embarrassing is another. Flat out sad is probably the best way to describe it. The amount of talent present on this team and around the program is plentiful, but I’m tired of that conversation. There is a severe lack of pride in wearing the uniform.
If you dare, here’s how it happened:
It was a brisk 48 degrees and rainy as the game kicked off in Wallace Wade Stadium for the regular season finale between the two ACC teams. There wasn't really much at stake in this game — Miami was already bowl eligible and Duke wouldn't reach the necessary six win mark even with a victory.
This was just a game Miami had to show up to and win because they were the better team and they had to prove that they could win the games they were supposed to win, especially coming off a devastating, momentum halting loss to FIU.
The Hurricanes defense came out and forced a quick three and out, but the Blue Devils did the same. It was a slow start for both offenses out of the gate.
Greg Rousseau and Jonathan Garvin got it going on their second series with a sack each and wound up forcing a 46-yard field goal attempt that was missed by A.J. Reed. But that’s not to say that Duke didn't have an opportunity.
Quentin Harris missed a wide open receiver who got behind sophomore corner D.J. Ivey for what would have been an easy touchdown.
But the Hurricanes offense, once again, couldn't put it together. Jarren Williams nearly threw another interception and the offenses’ blandness continued to stunt the potential of what could be with the talent and athletes at the disposal of offensive coordinator Dan Enos.
It’s getting to a point where a decision needs to be made by Manny Diaz about what direction he wants this program to go in. Are you going to choose to believe that this pro-style, snails pace offense is some day going to take this program to the next level or do you bring in a young, innovative mind to change the landscape of the Miami offense forever?
The latter seems to be the obvious choice. Through three drives of the game against a defense that had given up over 38 points in four of their last five games, the Hurricanes had just 13 total yards and failed to get a first down.
Garvin continued to play well with another tackle for loss on Harris, but Duke was able to convert a 3rd and 12 with a 15-yard pass from Harris to Jalon Calhoun.
The next play was a 27-yard reception to Aaron Young, who was somehow unattended down the field. Two inexcusable gains by the Duke offense led to a 40-yard field goal by Reed to give the Blue Devils a 3-0 lead with 3:06 left in the first quarter.
When the Hurricanes got the ball back, Zion Nelson was beat badly on first down and a play-action pass call by Enos took too long to develop resulting in Williams getting sacked.
A 13-yard pass to Will Mallory on third and long wasn't enough and Miami was forced to punt.
BUT THEY RAN A FAKE and Lou Hedley ran it 21-yards for a first down.
K.J. Osborn sparked the offense after the momentum swing with a 15-yard reception that set up a first down run by Cam’Ron Harris, who got the start in place of the injured Deejay Dallas.
A pass interference penalty on Duke defensive back Josh Blackwell on Osborn put Miami in the red zone and set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Harris to give Miami a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter.
But that all changed very quickly. Duke put together a complete drive with runs by Deon Jackson and a 24-yard Quentin Harris draw that went for a touchdown, giving Duke a 10-7 lead. It was just poor execution of containing the quarterback, which the film tells you is Duke’s most explosive playmaker.
How Duke was able to run right up the middle of the defense for a long score is beyond me.
The offense got the ball back and looked like they were once again going to be stopped quickly, but Williams was patient in the pocket and found the tight end Mallory for a 23-yard gain on 3rd and 5, the Hurricanes first third down conversion of the game.
And before you knew it the Canes faced third and long again. A defensive holding call gifted Miami with a first down after Osborn failed to gain the necessary yardage to move the sticks.
Despite the extra opportunity, Miami wasn't able to capitalize as Williams missed a wide open Osborn in the end zone and took a terrible and avoidable sack on 3rd and 10. Miami punted and Duke took over on their 21.
Back to back runs, highlighted by a 42-yard Mataeo Durant run, put the Blue Devils at Miami’s 20. On the play, senior linebacker Mike Pinckney injured what appeared to be his knee and was replaced by freshman Sam Brooks, not Ryan Ragone, who was Pinckney’s replacement earlier in the year.
After a couple failed pass attempts to the end zone by Harris, Duke had to settle for a 36-yard field goal by Reed, which was good.
Duke led 13-7 with 7:18 left in the second.
A great block by junior receiver Mike Harley on the following drive allowed Harris to run for a first down, but he came up limping. Robert Burns entered the game for the sophomore back.
As rain continued to pour down on Wallace Wade Stadium, Williams found his tight end Mallory for 32-yards on 3rd and 11. And if losing Harris, Pinckney and Donaldson throughout the first half wasn't enough, Miami’s backup lineman John Campbell went down. Scaife was able to return as Campbell exited, which was good news.
Miami faced yet another third down and Burns was able to bulldoze through the Duke defensive line to get the additional yardage needed to move the sticks deep in they territory. After starting 0-4 on third down, the Canes were suddenly 4-9 and driving.
On second down, Williams found Burns for 15-yards on a screen that went for a touchdown. It was the first touchdown of the redshirt sophomore’s career and it gave Miami a late one-point lead in the first half.
Miami was able to hold Duke off and force a punt while retaining a time out to give them a chance to drive down the field and score. Mallory continued to shine with a 25-yard reception, giving him a career high 93-yards in the half, but the depleted offensive line didn't have their best half and gave up two sacks on the series and that wrapped up the half.
Miami was clinging onto a 14-13 at the intermission.
The second half started just as the first half did — both teams trading three and outs.
The Hurricanes came out of the half with the ball, but Mallory had a big drop on third down that forced the Hurricanes fifth three and out of the afternoon.
On 2nd and 10 of Duke’s possession, junior corner Trajan Bandy jumped the route and nearly intercepted Quentin Harris’ pass, but couldn't hold onto the diving attempt. Senior Trevon Hill and Rousseau teamed up for a sack on the Duke quarterback on the following play, bringing on fourth down.
Duke DE Chris Rumph II erupted off the line, torching Scaife and nailing Williams as he prepared to throw the ball causing a fumble. The ball bounced back about five yards before Scaife, who was beat, jumped on top of the ball and recovered it.
Miami conservatively ran the ball on 3rd and 19 but were bailed out by a facemasking penalty.
On the next play, Williams sacked for the sixth time on the day and Miami punted again.
The defense forced another three and out and Osborn returned the punt 43-yards to the Duke 14, but had to settle for a field goal. Another example of terrible play-calling and management of the offense in a very high percentage situation. It was inexcusable to only get three points in that situation.
The 27-yard field goal gave the Hurricanes a 17-13 lead.
Garvin and Rousseau teamed up for yet another sack on Harris and that set up a third and long that Duke failed to convert. The defense forced yet another three and out, but Duke’s punter pinned Miami on their own 2-yard line. Miami wasn't able to do anything with it, which comes as no surprise given how the offense has performed throughout this monsoon.
The punt put Duke around midfield and gave an opportunity to make something happen on a short field. But Garvin had other plans.
The junior exploded off the edge and sacked Harris, which forced a fumble and was recovered by sophomore Nesta Silvera. It was the first turnover forced by any team in this game.
The offense, despite getting a huge opportunity, ran the ball twice, had a snap infraction penalty and threw a bad pass into traffic for the Hurricanes SIXTH three and out of the game. Just a humiliating offensive performance all around. The inability to be creative or to create a spark off of a drastic momentum swing against an inferior opponent was beyond frustrating.
But just how bad was that third quarter? This bad.
Third quarter offense... Miami 18 plays, 15 yards. Duke 13 plays, minus-6 yards— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) November 30, 2019
On the very first play of the fourth, Quentin Harris took an absolute shot from Gurvan Hall, but found a way to complete it to Darrell Harding Jr. for 16-yards. He found Harding Jr. again on a second down to move the sticks and the Duke offense looked like it was getting going.
That was until Trevon Hill and Pinckney sacked Harris to force another third and long that wasn't converted.
When the Hurricanes got the ball back, the struggles continued and Rumph II got his third sack of the game after beating Zalon’tae Hillery. It was also Duke’s seventh of the game, the most they had in a game all season.
The Blue Devils got the ball back and finally found a way to get the ball going with runs by Harris and Deon Jackson. That set up an 18-yard pass that Harris threw up to Jalon Calhoun on what appeared to be a free play. A flag wasn't thrown and Calhoun beat Gilbert Frierson to make the grab and give Duke the ball on Miami’s 5-yard line. It was a chance for Duke to take a fourth quarter lead.
And that’s exactly what they did. Jackson punched in a 2-yard run for a touchdown, giving the Blue Devils a three-point lead with 9:37 left in the game.
And when the offense rolled back out, the coaches made a quarterback change. N’Kosi Perry came in for Jarren Williams, who was 11-26 in the game for 142 yards.
It resulted in nothing. Miami went three and out for the fourth straight drive and, for the first time, it felt like Miami was going to lose this game.
Shockingly enough, Duke got the ball back and Harris connected with Calhoun for a 49-yard touchdown to give Duke a 27-17 lead.
Without the pain of detailing every play, Miami turned the ball over on downs. The game is over. It’s done.