Miami Hurricanes Unable to Overcome Slow Start, Fall 20-13 to UNC
North Carolina used an early Miami Hurricanes miscue to score on its first drive, led 20-3 at halftime and outlasted UM 20-13 to hand the Hurricanes their second straight loss at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday.
North Carolina won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half. Miami’s Malcolm Lewis inexplicably stepped out of bounds at the three-yard line on the opening kickoff. The ball was likely headed out of bounds or at least into the end zone. The Hurricanes would have had the ball at the 25 or 35, instead of the three.
Miami went three and out and the Tar Heels took over on their own 42 after a 50-yard punt by Justin Vogel. Miami Head Coach Mark Richt speaking with Hurricanes Radio Analyst Don Bailey Jr. after the praised Vogel for punting for a 47 yard average with good hang time.
North Carolina drove 33 yards in seven plays that culminated with a 42 yard Nick Weiler Field Goal to give the Tar Heels a 3-0 lead they would never relinquish. The Tar Heels blocked a 35 yard Michael Badgley Field Goal attempt on Miami’s next drive and took over at their own 20.
UNC drove 80 yards on 12 plays in 4:05 that was capped by a Mitch Trubisky to Austin Proehl five-yard touchdown pass. That pushed the ‘Heels lead to 10-0. Weiler kicked a 52-yard field goal and Trubisky connected with Ryan Switzer on a one-yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds left in the second quarter to give the Tar Heels a commanding 20-3 lead at the intermission.
Miami’s inability to get off the field on third down was decimating throughout the entire game. The Tar Heels went 3-4 on third down on their first two drives. They continued their hot streak converting four of six on third down in the second quarter. They finished the game 14-23 on third down.
The Hurricanes entered the game 12th nationally allowing teams to convert on just 28.2 percent of their third down conversations. North Carolina’s alarming success on third down was arguably the difference in the game. Other than that, the Hurricanes defense bent, but didn’t break in the second half.
Miami shutout the Tar Heels after halftime, holding them to 173 yards in the last two-quarters. Their third down defense improved but still allowed UNC to convert 7-13 on third downs in the second half.
After having the ball for nearly two minutes longer in the first half, Miami was dominated in time of possession in the second half. The TOP was a question mark coming in. Both teams ranked in the bottom fifth nationally in time of possession entering the game.
The Tar Heels like a high tempo offense. Mark Richt has also utilized a quick tempo offense at times this season. UNC had the ball for 18:53 seconds in the second half. They were able to control the ball and still keep a high tempo offense.
UNC ran 89 plays to the Hurricanes 68 and had the ball for 32:59 for the game to UM’s 27:01. What was a dominant rushing offense through the first three game has had its problems in the ACC.
The Hurricanes fought hard in the second half. Miami went three and out on their first two drives of the of the third quarter. They then drove 61 yards on four plays in 1:15, capped by a two-yard Joseph Yearby touchdown run.
Yearby nearly added a second touchdown in the fourth quarter. On third and two from the UNC 48, Yearby ran 42 yards before being pushed out of bounds at the Tar Heel six. The ‘Canes had to settle for a 22 yard Badgley Field Goal to get within a touchdown.
The Hurricanes defense came up big continually in the fourth quarter. They stopped Trubisky on fourth and goal from the Miami one after a ten play 74-yard drive. They forced Carolina punts on the next two possessions and took over on their own 20 with 1:40 left in the fourth quarter still down seven.
Kaaya connected with Mark Walton for 11 yards for a first down on the first play of the drive. North Carolina’s Malik Carney had a strip sack on the next play and the ‘Heels Jeremiah Clarke recovered at the UM 16 and UNC ran out the clock.
Kaaya finished 16-31 for 224 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. His fumble was the only turnover of the night for either team.
Walton had 105 total yards but averaged just 3.4 yards per carry on the ground. Yearby finished with 78 total yards, including 74 yards rushing on ten carries. Forty-two of them came on the one carry.
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The Hurricanes got outstanding production from their tight ends. Herndon finished with 48 yards on two receptions and David Njoku had four catches for 82 yards. Richards continues to show his talents with 55 yards on two receptions.
UNC held UM leading receiver Stacy Coley to 13 yards on two receptions. The Hurricanes also struggled with multiple drops. Njoku and Richards had some key ones.
Trubisky finished with 299 yards passing and two touchdowns and also had 47 rushing yards.Bug Howard led the Tar Heels with ten catches for 156 yards. Switzer finished with nine catches, but for only 17 yards.
Asked about any adjustments the coaching staff made a halftime, Miami Safety Rayshawn Jenkins said: “There weren’t really any adjustments at halftime, we just knew….were missing tackles in the first half. We had to come out and just play the best football of our lives if we wanted to come back and have a chance…”
Jenkins, Senior Cornerback Corn Elder, and Freshman linebacker Shaq Quarterman had outstanding games. Jenkins finished with 14 tackles, including one tackle for loss and Quarterman had arguably the best game of his young Miami career with 11 tackles and one TFL.
Elder is a strong candidate for the ACC Defensive Player of the Week. He finished with 14 tackles, one sack and 2.5 TFL’s. Jenkins, Elder, and Quarterman are now the U’s top three tacklers after today’s stellar effort.
The Hurricanes offense had been strong before the back to back losses, but it’s the defense that had truly been the reason for the ‘Canes 4-0 start. If the offense doesn’t get on track on then this season could quickly resemble the strong starts and disappointing finishes of the Al Golden era.
Miami has a quick turnaround when they go to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech on Thursday. The Hurricanes suffered some significant injuries. Defensive Linemen Chad Thomas and Demetrius Jackson left and did not return. UM had to dip below its two-deep depth chart to get healthy players on the field.
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