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Revisiting the magic numbers: Why Miami lost on Saturday night

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The Hurricanes won the turnover battle but failed to adequately defend the Gator passing attack

NCAA Football: Florida at Miami
Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz exits the field after his team’s 24-20 loss to Florida on Saturday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes lost their “Week 0” season opener to the Florida Gators at Camping World Stadium in Orlando 24-20 on Saturday night.

The Hurricanes had more total yards than Florida, forced four turnovers on defense but were greatly let down by their special teams as Bubba Baxa missed a 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and Jeff Thomas muffed a punt that led directly to a Gator touchdown in the third.

Earlier this week, we set out some “magic numbers” for Miami to hit in order to beat the Gators. Click here to read that piece in its entirety.

Let’s check back in on those magic numbers and see how the Hurricanes fared.

Passing Yards

Magic Number: 225

Actual Number: 214

Post-Game Analysis: What an effort from Jarren Williams in his first collegiate start. Williams was 19-for-29 for 214 yards and a touchdown and most importantly, no turnovers. That’s extremely impressive considering he was sacked ten times in the game. Had this Jeff Thomas catch on this backwards lateral been scored as a forward pass, Williams would have elapsed the magic number and finished with 230 passing yards on the day. No doubt that Miami has work to do on the passing game but all in all, this was a great debut for Williams.

Rushing Yards

Magic Number: 175

Actual Number: 94

Post-Game Analysis: This number can be a bit deceiving because of the ten sacks allowed by the offensive line. In college football, those count as rushing attempts for Williams, which left him with 14 carries for -44 yards in the game. Outside of Williams going backwards, Miami rushed for 138 yards as a team on 22 carries. That average of over 6.2 yards per carry was helped greatly by DeeJay Dallas’ 50-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Dallas finished the game with 95 yards rushing on 12 carries. Outside of Dallas, Miami had very little going in the run game.

Turnovers Committed

Magic Number: No more than one.

Actual Number: One.

Post-Game Analysis: Miami achieved this goal but the one turnover lost was a backbreaker. Jeff Thomas muffed a punt late in the third quarter that gave Florida the ball in the red zone and led to the Gators taking a 17-13 lead into the fourth quarter. Miami did fumble the ball twice on offense but recovered both.

Third Down Percentage

Magic Number: 53% (8-for-15) or better

Actual Number: 15% (2-for-13)

Post-Game Analysis: Third down again was a huge problem for Miami. The Hurricanes converted just two of their 13 third-down attempts and this is largely because the offensive line struggled to protect Williams in obvious passing situations. Miami was also 0-for-2 on fourth down while the Gators were 4-for-4.

Tackles For A Loss

Magic Number: 10

Actual Number: Six.

Post-Game Analysis: Florida’s gameplan to neutralize the Miami pass rush was to get the ball out as quick as possible. That can be seen in the stat sheet as Miami only had one sack (Gregory Rousseau on the last play of the first half) and five other tackles for loss (led by Rousseau’s two).

Turnovers Forced

Magic Number: 2 or more.

Actual Number: 4.

Post-Game Analysis: The gaudy new turnover chain came out four times on Saturday night. Miami doubled up the magic number here as its opportunistic defense intercepted two passes (Amari Carter and Romeo Finley) and recovered two fumbles (Scott Patchan and Shaquille Quarterman). Miami winning the turnover battle 4-1 and losing the game is a little hard to believe.

Rushing Yards Allowed

Magic Number: 150 or less.

Actual Number: 52.

Post-Game Analysis: This number is probably the most impressive stat for Miami’s defense on Saturday night. Florida carried the ball 27 times for 52 yards, an average of less than two yards per carry. That is the same Gator team who concluded the 2018 season by rushing for 367 yards against South Carolina and putting up 250+ rushing yards in back-to-back weeks against Florida State and Michigan. Very impressive.

Passing Yards Allowed

Magic Number: 170 or less.

Actual Number: 254.

Post-Game Analysis: In the end, two passes broke Miami’s back on defense: Kadarius Toney’s 66-yard touchdown on a screen pass in the first quarter and Josh Hammond’s 65-yard catch in the fourth. Those two plays alone accounted for over half of Florida’s passing yards and either directly or indirectly led to the Gators scoring 14 points.