The Miami Hurricanes were looking for a winning streak on Saturday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium after beating Virginia Tech the week before. Instead, they got a thumping, falling under .500 with a 45-21 loss to Duke.
Here are some takeaways from Saturday’s matchup.
‘Canes are their own worst enemy
Last week, a season-high 17 penalties for 159 yards kept Virginia Tech in the game. This week, eight turnovers – five fumbles and three interceptions – led to 24 Blue Devil points, the difference in the game.
“We built our own hole and we just kept digging it deeper,” head coach Mario Cristobal said.
After taking an early 7-0 lead, momentum shifted as the ‘Canes ended a promising drive on the Duke 40 with a fumble from running back Jaylan Knighton, his third in four games. The error eventually resulted in a Blue Devil touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Miami turned the ball over on four consecutive drives as Duke outscored it 21-0 in the final frame.
If the Hurricanes want to be competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), they can’t continue to beat themselves.
In a season that’s already seen Miami lose its number one wide receiver, offensive lineman Jonathan Denis and quarterback Tyler Van Dyke both left Saturday’s game and did not return.
Van Dyke went down early in the second quarter after a sack with an apparent shoulder injury. Backup Jake Garcia replaced him, and Cristobal summed up his performance perfectly:
“He had some good moments. Had some others that weren’t so good.”
Garcia looked brilliant at times, with two spectacular touchdown passes of 71 and 34 yards to open the second half. But he also struggled down the stretch, throwing two bad interceptions, including a pick-six that went directly to a Duke defender, that all but sealed the game.
Overall, Garica threw for 198 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Van Dyke’s status for next week is currently unknown, but if Garcia has to start, the ‘Canes are fully behind him.
“I have complete confidence in Jake,” wide receiver Colbie Young said. “He’s the last one to keep his head down. He’s a hard worker, he’s a battler, and we’re going to stand behind him. He knows we’re with him, and I feel like [it will be] a great performance if he has to start next game.”
Miami’s moving in the wrong direction
In Cristobal’s postgame press conference, he constantly mentioned the word “regression.”
After allowing only two sacks against the Hokies last week, Miami let Duke get to its quarterback six times. As a result, the passing offense, which registered an astounding 847 yards over the last two games, wasn’t efficient.
Van Dyke averaged just 5.1 yards per completion, down from 7.6 against Virginia Tech, and Garcia was held to a 10.2 QBR.
On the defensive end, Miami did record two takeaways but wasn’t able to contain quarterback Riley Leonard, who rushed for 61 yards and a season-high three touchdowns. The ‘Canes also had a season-high 16 missed tackles.
“It doesn’t magically get better,” Cristobal said. You have to go to work and that’s the only focus. That’s the only thing we’re going to do.”
Colbie Young is special
Other than the sun, Colbie Young was the lone bright spot on Saturday afternoon, leading all receivers with 127 yards and two touchdowns, which included breaking a tackle on a 71-yard catch down the right sideline en route to the end zone.
Young also opened the scoring with a seven-yard touchdown grab on a crossing concept in the first quarter.
“Just great call by [offensive coordinator Josh] Gattis,” Young said. “We put that play in a couple days ago and it worked to perfection.”
The Lackawanna College transfer has proved his worth ever since making his Hurricane debut against UNC two weeks ago, recording at least one touchdown grab in each of his three games. Saturday was the second consecutive week he led Miami in receiving yards.
The sophomore is an emerging young star primed for a breakout season.
Next up, the ‘Canes will look to right the ship against Virginia on Oct. 29 at 12:30 p.m. on the road.