Mike's Take: Duke Game

The Hurricanes lost to Duke Saturday by the score of 48-30. Read on for a game analysis by CanesTime's Mike Bakas.

* That was ugly. That has to rank among the four worst games Miami has played in the Al Golden era. Maryland and Boston College were terrible in 2011 and still beat the Canes. Virginia was terrible last season and beat Miami. For the fourth time in the Golden era, his team lost to a team it should beat all day every day. There's no other way around it. Duke was better prepared, coached better, and its players executed better.

* Lets start with some decent play and that was the performance of Miami's offense. Despite playing without Duke Johnson and Phillip Dorsett (and Stacy Coley for much of the game), the Canes still went for over 500 yards (when the game was still undecided). Duke came into the game giving up 220 yards per game through the air. The Canes had close to 350 when it mattered. Duke came into the game giving up 3.8 yards per carry. Miami averaged 6.4.

* The biggest thing that hurt Miami's offense today was their inability to convert after they got inside the redzone. Between the 20s, the Canes did whatever they wanted for the most part. However, they were just 1-for-4 on converting redzone chances into touchdowns. It's tough to win games kicking field goals and especially when you're playing on the road against a decent team. I'm not sure if it was play-calling or lack of execution or what but the offense didn't get it done when it mattered most.

* Stephen Morris played pretty well. I believe that was his highest passing total of the season, and does it come as a surprise to anyone that it happened on a day when his running backs had 90 of those yards? The tight ends -- especially Beau Sandland (who again went an entire game without a single target) -- continues to be frustrating. Otherwise, he seemed to be a solid job of spreading the ball around. He made some low percentage throws but not as many as in recent games.

* Dallas Crawford was running hard again but I'd really like to see a better distribution of carries. 19 for Crawford, 4 for Gus Edwards, and one for Eduardo Clements shows no balance. Are the three really that much different? While I understand Edwards may not be where he needs to be yet in terms of pass protection, UM ran the ball a very high percentage of the time when it went heavy (two tight ends and a fullback or three tight ends).

* Hurns was Hurns and Waters was Waters. They were getting a lot of single coverage, and Herb was matched up against a linebacker in the slot a good part of the night. They took advantage of their opportunities. I'm confused the usage of Malcolm Lewis. He plays a high number of snaps yet only had one target until the very last drive of the game (when the game was already decided and Duke was in prevent mode). Is that he good a blocker in the run game that his targets per snap is that low? Also notice that Rashawn Scott is nowhere near the field. Even after Coley went down, Scott didn't see the field until Waters got dinged up late in the game. He's been off the injury report completely for three or four weeks now and playing against a very young and vulnerable secondary he still can't see a target when the game's on the line? Without Dorsett and Coley, the WR target distribution is way too strong in favor of the top two guys. I'd like to see UM involve Lewis and Scott more (and recruit the position better).

* The offensive line played well. UM's running backs averaged almost three more yards per carry than Duke had been giving up this season. And Morris was protected very well for the most part. On a side note, did anyone see how fired up that Jared Wheeler got whenever he made the tackle on a fairly long punt return in the 4th quarter? I'm guessing he's frustrated that he's the one having to tackle Duke's fastest guy in space 30 yards after he catches it.

* Switching over to the defense, wow. Where to start? They couldn't get off the field on third down. They couldn't create a new line of scrimmage to get negative plays. They couldn't pressure the quarterback. They couldn't create turnovers. And most importantly, they couldn't stop Duke from scoring touchdowns in the redzone.

* UM's front four got dominated today. Go back and watch the interior, especially. They were getting knocked back all afternoon. It's a good thing Anthony Chickillo and Shayon Green are high motor guys because otherwise they'd almost be non-factors in this defense. They make a lot of plays because they never give up. It's a great attribute to have but they are limited athletically. There was no pass rush today again, although it's encouraging to see Ufomba Kamalu getting a sack since he wasn't even really on the field for the last two games.

* Defensively, Denzel Perryman had close to 15 tackles again. What else is new? As I said last week, enjoy him down the stretch. His UM career likely only has a few games remaining in it.

* The secondary wasn't really challenged too much, although they did not tackle well and provided very little help in run support.

* The Canes have now given up over 500 yards in three straight games, and 128 points during that stretch. Unfortunately, this looks like a Bill Miller unit from the late 90's all over again. This defense has shown absolutely no signs of improvement this season, and especially over the last three years. This is year three of this system. Did you know the first three games of the Golden era UM allowed just 66 points? Games 32-34 have resulted in 128 points. That tells you one of two things -- 1) no improvement is being made or 2) the overall talent level is way down. I think it's a combination of both.

* Bring on Virginia. They've been the worst team in the league but the concern now will be how much focus will the kids have down the stretch? I expect the Canes to beat UVA just because the Cavs have been so bad this season (even coming off a bye week) and then lose to a much improved Pittsburgh team that will likely be hosting the Canes in very cold weather.

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