“Nothing about this was fun.”
That was David Cutcliffe’s succinct and very accurate summation of Miami’s 31-6 victory over Duke Friday night.
Duke lost this on merit, penalties, dropped passes, turnovers, missed assignments. Miami was simply better than Duke in every area.
Two problems continue to crop up. Duke advanced the ball into Miami territory on eight separate possessions and came away with two field goals.
On the other side if the field, Miami exploited Duke for gains of 25 or more yards seven times, including touchdowns of 27, 49, and 40 yards.
Duke had two plays of 25 or more yards.
It actually started well for Duke. Taking the ball first, the Blue Devils marched from their 26 to the Miami 13. Duke passed up the field goal on fourth and inches, leaving Daniel Jones at quarterback and calling for a pass. Miami linebacker Michael Pinckney came up the middle, untouched for the sack.
Cutcliffe called it a busted assignment.
“You think about kicking the field goal right there, just ti finish with some points, But everything in book says to go for it. I know how talented they are and I knew that they would create some measure of points.”
It took the visitors five plays to go 76 yards, the last 27 a pass from Malik Rosier to a wide-open Braxton Berrios.
Duke couldn’t convert on a third and one and Miami quickly marched 68 yards for another touchdown.
Barely 10 minutes into the contest and it was 14-0.
Defensive tackle Mike Ramsay said Duke came out flat-footed, while linebacker Joe Giles-Harris said Duke was “late to the party.”
Not clear how a team comes out flat for a nationally-televised home game against a nationally-ranked conference rival.
Rosier was 8-8 in the first quarter and Miami had 182 yards of total offense. The Duke defense settled down in the second quarter and started hitting Rosier, even sacking him on consecutive plays.
But the offense couldn’t capitalize. Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown on the ground and Johnathan Lloyd on receptions enabled Duke to rack up 224 first-half yards. But no touchdowns.
Austin Parker hit two field goals, sandwiched around one by Miami’s Michael Badgley and the teams went into the locker room with Miami up 17-6.
A winnable game for the Blue Devils.
And the defense kept giving them chances, three Miami punts and a Bryon Fields interception. But the offense just fell apart.
“Drops, errant throws, confusion,” Cutcliffe summed up. “We got behind the chains and couldn’t protect the quarterback.”
Jones didn’t have protection, when he did, no one was open, when someone was open, the pass off target, when it was on target, it was dropped.
An exaggeration? Jones was 3-17 in the second half. For the game, he was 21-41 for 166 yards, an interception, a lost fumble and five sacks.
“I think our defense gave us more than enough opportunities to take the ball down the field and score,” Jones said, “But ultimately, I think it was third downs, not executing and not being on the same page and red-zone inefficiency” that did Duke in.
The Duke defense held until the fourth quarter, when Ramsay said “I thought we broke down. Too many explosive plays, too many defensive mistakes.”
Cutcliffe said his offensive linemen got whipped and his receivers didn’t win enough individual battles, with the exception of Lloyd. “We couldn’t finish drives and we couldn’t stop their athletes from making big plays. Our receivers have to go out and battle.”
Wilson became the seventh player in school history to rush for more than 2,000 career yards. His 63 yards leave him at 2,057. He passed Jela Duncan to move into sixth place. With 385 more yards, he could move into fourth place.
Lloyd ended with a career-best nine receptions, for 82 yards.
Fields’ interception was his third of the season and the sixth of his career.
Miami punter Zach Feagles supplied the game’s comic relief with a punt that lost two yards. Trying to pin Duke back, Feagles popped one straight up and out of bounds.
At least there was no return.
- Duke football out of sync in passing game for third straight week
- Anemic offense dooms Duke football against No. 14 Miami in season's first loss
- Duke drops first game of the season, falls to undefeated Miami
- Game Insider: Miami 31, Duke 6
- Analysis: Duke offense looking for answers after "whipping" up front
- Miami takes care of business early, beats Duke
- Miami Punt Goes Backwards One Yard Against Duke
- No. 14 Miami opens ACC play with win over Duke
- Miami starts fast, leaves no doubt, in dominant victory at Duke
- Super sophomores shine and notes, thoughts from UM’s win at Duke
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