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Takeaways from Miami's Game Against Duke

Takeaways from Miami's Game Against Duke

by Christy Cabrera Chirinos

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – After snapping a three-game losing streak last week at Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes returned home to Coral Gables looking to build on their progress.

There were moments on Saturday against Duke where it looked like they were doing that, with Miami forcing an early Duke turnover and scoring on its first possession.

Unfortunately, that was followed by a series of mistakes, miscues and injuries.

The Hurricanes committed a season-high eight turnovers and the Blue Devils capitalized, scoring 21 points off those turnovers en route to a 45-21 win over Miami at Hard Rock Stadium.

“We’re improving our ability to practice, our capacity to practice, better…We’ve talked [about] some good stuff. We’ve made some progress in certain areas,” Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal said. “But that wasn’t [progress]. That was regression. After a fast start, and then in the second quarter, taking a dive. The third quarter, we came out and played with some good passion, executed well, took the lead in the game. [But] they came back, they drove and they scored and then after that, all out of sorts.”

Here, more from Cristobal and the Hurricanes as they recap the Duke game and begin preparing for their next opponent, Virginia.

1. Turnovers take their toll

The Hurricanes came into Saturday’s game knowing the Duke defense could cause problems.

Through their first seven games, the Blue Devils had a nation-high 10 fumble recoveries and were third in the ACC with a +1.14 turnover margin.

Those numbers only improved after the Blue Devils’ trip to South Florida.

The Hurricanes turned the ball over eight times in Saturday’s game, losing five fumbles and throwing three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

“Fumbles. Ball security – huge point of emphasis. We’ve done everything we can, but we’ve got to do more, because whatever we’ve done has not worked,” Cristobal said. “We fumbled the ball. We gave up some pressures that allowed them to get some sacks…We had made some progress on offense the last couple of weeks, and it looked like we were going to get off to a strong start and we didn’t. You take complete responsibility as a head coach and as a program. I get it. You have got to be real tough. Unfortunately, you have to go through some painful steps, but we caused our own painful steps. Extra painful steps that we don’t need. Back to work.”

2. Another tough fourth quarter proves costly

At Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes found themselves fending off a late rally when the Hokies scored a pair of unanswered touchdowns, cutting Miami’s lead from 20-0 to 20-14.

Miami hung on for the win in Blacksburg, but the Hurricanes said they knew they had to continue working on their ability to close games out with six conference games remaining.

They couldn’t do that against Duke.

The Blue Devils held a narrow 24-21 lead going into fourth quarter, but scored 21 unanswered points to end any thoughts of a potential Hurricanes comeback.

It was a fourth-quarter effort that left Cristobal disappointed.

“We’ll see on tape. If someone’s not playing hard, they have to go play somewhere else,” Cristobal responded when asked about the players’ effort in the final quarter. “What we have to do requires tough people. To turn a program [around], rebuild it, it requires tough-minded people willing to do the work. If that shows up on tape, they have to find somewhere else [to play]. Some guys have played really well. Some guys have played hard. We’ll go from there.”

3. Injuries strike again

Throughout the course of the season, the Hurricanes have had to deal with their share of painful injuries, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

Things got worse Saturday.

Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke – the 2021 ACC Rookie of the Year – left the game in the second quarter after taking a hard hit that left him needing help from Miami’s medical staff to head to the locker room.

Van Dyke had been playing well of late, even throwing for a career-high 496 yards against North Carolina earlier this month, but his status for this week’s game at Virginia is uncertain, Cristobal said.

“He was banged up enough where we did not feel comfortable putting him back in,” Cristobal said immediately after the loss. “Don’t know the severity of it.”

With Van Dyke sidelined, second-year freshman Jake Garcia finished the game for Miami. He completed 13 of 21 pass attempts for 198 yards with three interceptions.

4. Young continues to shine

Receiver Colbie Young, a transfer from Lackawanna College, has been one of the standout players for Miami throughout conference play.

He turned in another big performance against Duke.

The receiver had a game-high six catches for another game-high 127 yards and two touchdowns.

Young, who has played in five of Miami’s seven games, now has 18 catches for 271 yards. That number ranks fourth among the Hurricanes’ pass-catchers.

5. The work continues

As disappointed as they were with the results Saturday, the Hurricanes, again, have no time to dwell.

They have crucial conference games every week between now and the end of the season. That stretch continues this coming Saturday when Miami travels to face a Virginia team that has endured its struggles, too.

The Cavaliers are 3-4 on the year, but are coming off a 16-9 win over Georgia Tech.

The Hurricanes, Cristobal said, will have to continue looking inward and practicing hard to address some of the issues that have surfaced during the course of a tough few weeks.

“You go right to the truth. You don’t head-fake it. I don’t think, at this point in time, it’s about morale. It’s about reality,” Cristobal said. “The best way to build good morale is to have success and performance. The best way to do that is to go back to work and work on the things that need to get better. They’re identified. There is some progress in some. But today, regression showed up. And that’s the point that’s disappointing. There’s a lot of stuff that has shown up over the last couple of weeks that made us feel that we were going to have a positive performance today.”