football Edit

Five Takeaways from Miami's 41-31 loss to North Carolina

Miami played a promising first half of football. The Hurricanes led 17-14 at halftime and outgained North Carolina 273-218, and the memory of last week seemed to be fading.

But then the second half started.

Carolina scored three straight touchdowns, and Miami couldn't recover. Miami suffered its second straight loss of the season and lacked an identity on both sides of the football.


This version of Tyler Van Dyke is not enough to lead Miami

Photo Credit: Associated Press
Tyler Van Dyke, Quarterback, Miami

This was a chance for the Miami quarterback to prove that last week was a fluke and that he would be more on track to his 2021 campaign than the 2022 season. He did not prove that Saturday night. Van Dyke had moments when he looks brilliant, like his second touchdown to Jacolby George. The ball floated into the arms of George, and the score gave fans hope that he could turn the page from last week's three-interception performance.

In the second half, he reverted. He couldn't handle a bad snap from Center Matt Lee, resulting in a fumble recovery for the Tar Heels. On the following possession, he threw a completion directly to Cedric Gray. The North Carolina linebacker caught the football and set up a Carolina score to make it a 28-17 game.

"Yeah, I saw him initially," Van Dyke said in the post-game press conference. "He just made a good play. I saw him. Just try to get it over him. Good play. I just got to check it down to the back."

Van Dyke's connection with Xavier Restrepo is extraordinary, but 17 targets for one receiver is too much. North Carolina beat Miami in various ways, and if the Hurricanes want to beat teams that are above average, more playmakers have to make their imprint on the game. George did so in the first half, tallying 111 yards receiving on five receptions, but had only one reception for 14 yards in the second half.

For the most part, Miami becomes one-dimensional with the TVD to X combo. It's time for Van Dyke to look for other playmakers or use his legs to convert first downs.

"Sometimes my reads just take me there," Van Dyke said about looking for Restrepo. "They did a pretty good job of covering him and making it difficult for us."

Too often, Van Dyke held on to the ball too long, and it seems his processing time is too slow when his first read is not there. He needs to get the ball out quickly or decide to run at a faster pace to beat teams with above-average defenders.

Lastly, it's clear that Van Dyke is not 100 percent healthy. He seemed to re-aggravate his hand injury during Saturday night's contest, and the Miami quarterback revealed today that he tore three ligaments in his hand in fall camp.

"Back in fall camp, I tore three ligaments in my left finger. It's getting a lot better, but there are times if it gets hit, I feel it a little bit. It'll be alright. It feels fine."

Hurricanes can't keep up with up-tempo offense

Photo Credit: Associated Press
North Carolina wide receiver Devontez Walker (9) hauls in a touchdown pass against Miami cornerback Te'Cory Couch (0) during the first half an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Miami looked out of sorts, trying to keep up with a no-huddle up-tempo offense. Too often, Miami had players running off or onto the field, with some instances resulting in penalties. Miami was caught with 12 men on the field, and Defensive Coordinator Lance Guidry was penalized for running out of the field when Miami was caught in between substitutions.

Before the season started, we were made to believe that Miami would be ready for this type of offense. Saturday night in Chapel Hill, clearly, there were not.

"Obviously, during the game, we struggled with tempo, getting lined up, and getting the signals and communicating. So they just took advantage of that." Defensive Back Te'Cory Couch said.

Several giveaways, zero takeaways

Photo Credit: Associated Press
Miami defensive lineman Rueben Bain Jr. (44), back, hits North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10), causing him to fumble, during the first half an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Chapel Hill, N.C. North Carolina recovered the ball.

There were a few reasons why Miami lost this game, and the turnover battle was one of them. Miami turned the ball over four times and failed to produce one turnover of its own. It's tough to win any football game with that kind of turnover margin.

Two turnovers were crucial. The first was a fumble by Henry Parrish at the goal line in the first quarter. The Miami starting running back was on his way to a score to tie the ball game up after UNC's first score when the football came loose and was recovered by Gray.

Miami Defensive Lineman Rueben Bain forced a fumble on the ensuing drive, but Miami failed to recover the football. It would be the closest that Miami would come to producing a turnover in the game.

The other crucial turnover was the aforementioned interception, which led to a score. It was the only touchdown from a turnover that UNC scored all night.

Execution on 3rd downs was horrendous

It is tough to win football games if you cannot win on third downs, and Miami was an abysmal 3-11 (27.3 percent) on the money down. Miami averaged 7.2 yards per third down attempt and was 0-for-3 on third downs of more than nine yards. Simply just not getting it done.

The season is far from over

Photo Credit: USA Today
Tyler Van Dyke, Quarterback, Miami

Although the season seems bleak, there were some positives to take, and Miami can still win most of the remainder of its games. This is not a bad team by any stretch; it just has to limit the mistakes to beat teams of equal or greater talent. Miami overcame some early mistakes against Texas A&M and should have come out with a win over Georgia Tech despite many errors. But Miami can still salvage its season based on some positives in this game against North Carolina.

The Hurricanes held Heisman candidate Drake Maye to his lowest completion percentage on the season (52 percent) and sacked the UNC quarterback five times. Total yards were nearly identical, and it would have been a different result if those two crucial turnovers, as mentioned above, had not happened. Miami has a chance to correct their wrongs this week against a Clemson team that is not nearly as explosive offensively as UNC. The question will be, does Miami continue to hurt themselves, or will they hurt their future opponents?

"There's a lot of good effort," Cristobal said. "I think they have a very realistic approach of the future and the progress of this team. They see what we can do when we're really good, and they see what we can do when it gets away from us a little bit. So I think they're ready to just get back. Get back to work and improve and get better."

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