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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: North Carolina Tar Heels edition

Oh where, oh where, have my Hurricanes gone? Oh where, oh where could they be......

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Miami Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Welp. We meet again after another Miami Hurricanes loss.

Today, the Canes fell to the North Carolina Tar Heels 27-24 in the ACC opener for Miami. The loss, Miami’s 3rd consecutive defeat, drops the Canes to 2-3 overall, and 0-1 in the ACC. None of that is great.

Craig T. Smith checked in with your game recap.

Mike Schiffman has your 3 stars from the game.

And now, let’s get into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from yet another loss.

The Good

  • QB Tyler Van Dyke. I know, I know, his last pass of the day was intercepted, and there were some other....questionable throws, but overall, Van Dyke looked the part of the player we saw him be down the stretch of 2021. Miami’s signal caller went 42 for 57 passing for 496 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Those are great numbers no matter how you slice it, even with the final play being the lone, and biggest, blemish on his stat line today.
  • Welcome to the show, WR Colbie Young! The JUCO transfer WR stepped up on Miami’s penultimate drive. The 6’5” receiver made all his plays consecutively: 3 catches, 43 yards, and a touchdown to cap it off. He made an INCREDIBLE diving catch on 3rd down to start that run, then a great catch in the endzone to finish it. If he can do that, he’s gonna get a lot more playing time. Deservedly so.
  • Miami with a 4th down stop inside the 10 on Carolina’s 2nd drive. Just a massive play to not go down by 2 touchdowns early in the game. Lots of bending, but didn’t break.
  • A TOUCHDOWN TO KEY’SHAWN SMITH!!! Welcome back to the RPO slant. Missed you, old friend.
  • DT Darrell Jackson Jr. Just an absolute monster on the inside of Miami’s defense. 7 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack. And he got held a couple more times, but those weren’t called. Big man balled out.
  • TE Will Mallory. 8 catches for 115 yards, including a 4th down conversion.
  • WR Frank Ladson. This is more “....the alright” than “the good”, since he left several plays on the field. But still, 8 catches for 67 yards isn’t bad.
  • S Kamren Kinchens and LB Keontra Smith both had interceptions on the day.
  • P Louis Hedley. 2 punts for 90 yards, a 45 yard average. Both downed inside the 10 yardline. Elite as elite gets.
  • Containing Carolina’s passing game for the most part. Outside of the 74yard score on a breakdown, Carolina only had 235 yards on 18 completions. Those are fine numbers, but not the video game numbers Maye and Co. had been putting up so far this year.
  • Holding Josh Downs to 6 catches for 69 yards and a TD was actually really good work. It was MUCH LESS than that if Couch doesn’t slip on that one 3rd down play....
  • Carolina DIDN’T run for school record yardage against us today, so that’s a step in the right direction from the last time they were here in 2019.
  • The advanced stats weren’t bad today. ESPECIALLY AND INCLUDING EXPLOSIVE PLAY RATE!!!! That run game tho (which we’ll talk about later)........woof
  • 9 TFL.
  • 5 sacks.
  • 2 interceptions (listed above).
  • 4 PBU.
  • 537 yards offense.
  • 496 yards passing.
  • 29 first downs.
  • 6.7 yards per play.
  • 11.8 yards per completion.
  • 80 offensive plays.
  • 14 chunk plays — 14 passes (15+)
  • Only 3 penalties for 28 yards. One of them had like 50 yards of hidden yardage since it negated a long punt return so that’s a bit misleading on the yardage. But still cleaner than previous games.
  • Held Carolina to 6 points in the 2nd half.

The Bad

  • Losing. It fucking sucks. I fucking hate it.
  • A losing streak on the season. 3 consecutive losses.
  • Extending the losing streak against Carolina. That’s now 4 consecutive losses to those bastards.
  • Another slow start. Down 14-0 and 21-7 in the first half. It’s hard to play from behind every game.
  • Narrowly missing recovering the onside kick late in the game. And, to be clear, Miami DID recover it. It’s just the pesky fact that Al Blades Jr. was out of bounds when he touched the ball to tip it back to Chase Smith, so the ball was dead at that spot for illegal touching. That was a big big play that went Carolina’s way there by inches. Needed that one.
  • More injuries. DB Tyrique Stevenson left in the 3rd quarter and didn’t return. OL Jakai Clark and Justice Oluwaseun left within plays of each other in the 2nd quarter, and both went directly into the locker room. Neither returned. Neither TE Elijah Arroyo nor OT Zion Nelson played in the game. Nelson was listed as a “gametime decision” after a setback with his recovery from offseason knee surgery, but he didn’t even participate in warmups.
  • Long story short: Miami doesn’t have the roster depth to absorb multiple player losses to injury such as those listed above.
  • TE Elijah Arroyo is out for the season, per Cristobal in his post-game presser.
  • Allowed 21 first downs.
  • Allowed 3.7 yards per rush. Want to see that be a bit lower.
  • Allowed 10 chunk plays — 6 passes (15+), 4 runs (10+)
  • I just want to say that the above stat, while still in The Bad is an IMPROVEMENT from last game. A VAST improvement.
  • 2 turnover — 1 fumble, 1 interception.
  • Just a liiiiiiiiiiiiittle bit off on some throws/catches.
  • 5-14 on 3rd down.
  • 3-6 on 4th down.
  • 2-3 on FGs. No, I don’t care that the miss was from 53 yards. Make your kicks.
  • 4-5 in the redzone. I WANT PERFECTION!

The Ugly

  • Another. FUCKING. Loss. 3 in a row. 4 in a row to Carolina. 2-3 on the year and 0-1 in the ACC. I FUCKING HATE IT!!!!!!!
  • Another “U down” taunt from Carolina. They’re the league leaders in that category. And all I can do is blog about it because Miami can’t ever beat these fuckers.
  • Yet another blown coverage in the secondary, which led to Carolina’s first touchdown. The 74 yard score came on a 3rd down play, when Tyrique Stevenson looked to be playing cover-2 zone, expecting help over the top from Kamron Kinchens. That help wasn’t there — Kinchens crashed into the box for whatever reason — allowing the receiver to run unchecked up the sideline for an easy score. Week after week after week and we see the same type of errors.
  • Cristobal directly addressed this play. He said the call was Cover-2 but Kinchens gambled to try and jump the route he THOUGHT Carolina was running. But they weren’t running that. And that’s how they scored so easily. .
  • Jaylan Knighton’s 4th down fumble. This was a killer. Late in the game, Miami went for it on 4th down. With a run. AND THEY CONVERTED!!!!.......but Knighton fumbled, something he’s struggled with, and turned the ball over to Carolina, killing what could have been a crucial scoring drive. An absolutely gutting turnover. Another play that loses you games. And it did.
  • Miami’s run game overall. 23 carries for 41 yards. A scant 1.8 yards per rush. That’s disgusting.
  • The inability to punch it in from the 1. Getting stopped at the 1 on 4th and goal was a killer. And DOUBLY bad because Carolina walked down the field after that offensive failure and scored a touchdown of their own. Gutting.
  • 0 chunk plays (10+ yards) in the run game. Nothing at all on the ground. Miami’s longest run play was a 9 yard scamper by Jaylan Knighton. And yes, that 9 yard gain was the play that Knighton fumbled to end Miami’s 1st drive of the 4th quarter. LOL.
  • Allowing 7-14 on 3rd down
  • Allowing 2-3 on 4th down
  • An aggregate 9-17 on money downs isn’t good enough. Another area where the performance was not good enough to lead to victory.
  • Still missing assignments in coverage.
  • How do you run a pass play on 4th down and get sacked? The decision to go for it wasn’t the issue; the play call, or execution thereof, was the problem. TVD gotta see the pressure and throw the ball. That was bad bad.
  • I’m sorry, but Corey Flagg cannot play in space. He’s not athletic enough, and he’s exploited for lacking athleticism weekly. I cannot be the only person who sees it. And I’m not saying he doesn’t have a role on this team; he does. It’s just not on passing downs.
  • Oh. I almost forgot. There were a couple BAD drops. Parrish had one early. Mallory had one that, had he caught the ball on a perfectly designed and called 3rd down play, would have converted the down, if not scored from distance. An explosive play, something Miami has woefully been lacking, was LITERALLY in his hands. And he dropped it. 10 guys doing their job. 1 guy not. And that killed the play. Awful.

Team Grades

Offense: C

Look, the goal is to score and win. And there are a bunch of things to like from this game. Passing game came alive. Team fought back. Multiple players stepping up in the passing game. Tyler Van Dyke looking like Tyler Van Dyke and not......whoever that was at QB in the first 4 games. But, the run game was non-existent. The offensive line struggled. The drops returned. And the turnovers were killers. A small step in the right direction, but still so, so many things to work on and fix. Tons of yards, but few points. That makes those yards empty calories. I don’t like it.

Defense: C-

Only 1 GLARING coverage mistake, but it still cost Miami 7 points. Couch slipping on the conversion to Downs was big as well. I still don’t like Flagg playing in space, cuz he’s not good at it and teams exploit it. I need to see more Frierson and Johnson and Smith at Linebacker. The DL got pressure at times, but apart from the sack plays, Maye had eons of time to sit back and scan the field. The improvements to hold Carolina to only 6 points in the 2nd half elevated this grade. That was good. But that was only part of the game. Improvements to execution — and to my eye, personnel — are needed. And we saw them in 2H. But we need to see them MORE.

Special Teams: B

Decent returns. Penalty on a big return hurt, tho. 2-3 on FGs. AN INCREDIBLE ONSIDE KICK!!!!!! Awesome punting. I think this grade is fair.

Coaching: C

This was a step forward, but like most things I’ve listed here, there are more improvements needed. Another week with a nonsensical early timeout in the 2nd half. It was early in the 4th quarter instead of 3rd quarter, so that was better. But still. It wasn’t great. Additionally, it just seemed like Cristobal didn’t know if he was going hyper aggressive with 4th down decisions or conservative. Attempting a FG earlier in the game could have been the points needed to tie. Now, Borregales did miss a FG today so that was not a certainty that he makes the erstwhile 44 yarder. But try?

And look, I was advocating to go hyper aggressive. I said in the press box that I thought 34+ would be needed to win. And for a while it looked like that. So if you need to score points like that, GO FOR IT. But to waffle between aggressive moves and conservative ones doesn’t do the team any favors. And no, I’m not playing the results here. Pick a process and go with it.

There are still issues with errors on the field. And at this point it’s either being coached or allowed. And guess what? Neither one of those options is good.

“Close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. And “good” isn’t good enough.

This staff has to find ways to win games. NOW. And though I can admit steps toward that goal were taken, many more steps are needed to achieve the goal. And that’s why this grade is what it is.

That’s it for this edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I’m sure you have thoughts and feelings. I look forward to you hopping into the comments to discuss because there’s LOTS to discuss.

On to Virginia Tech we go. Or something.

Go Canes