North Carolina vs. Miami: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Miami
The Miami Hurricanes lost its first ACC game of the season on Saturday to the North Carolina Tar Heels, 18-14. Miami had a chance to win with 35-seconds left in the game, but backup quarterback Ryan William's pass was incomplete on 4th and 16 at the North Carolina 35-yard line.
Williams came into game when Stephen Morris was injured on the Hurricanes previous drive.
The Hurricanes defense continued to struggle allowing 272 yards on the ground against the Tar Heels.
Here is the Miami Hurricanes report card from Saturday's game.
Stephen Morris completed just 12-of-26 passes for 155 yards and two interceptions for the Hurricanes on Saturday. He seemed to struggle finding any type of rhythm throughout the game and it didn't help that his receivers had a hard time catching any of his passes, again.
Morris also ran for 40 yards on seven carries and a touchdown.
Morris ended up leaving towards the end of the game when he tweaked his left ankle. He would not return as backup quarterback Ryan Williams came in to finish the game.
Williams played OK, completing 9-of-13 passes for 80 yards, but you could definitely tell he wasn't on the same page as the first-string receivers.
Mike James led the running backs with 96 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries while Duke Johnson totaled 47 yards on 14 carries.
When the offense called their names they were ready and willing. Both running backs had a very good game but weren't used enough, in my honest opinion.
I believe if Miami would have been patient with Duke and James, the Hurricane-duo could have had over 200 yards between them.
Either way, when they got the ball, they created plays.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The Hurricane receivers started the season on a tear but recently have forgotten the key component to playing the position. Catching the ball.
The receivers had a plethora of dropped passes for the second-straight game.
Receiver Rashawn Scott led the way for the Canes with 72 yards on six catches.
I am not 100 percent sure what is going on with the receivers and their drops, but if they want to compete for the ACC Coastal division championship, they better correct the problem immediately.
I thought the offensive line did a good job on Saturday protecting the quarterbacks and opening holes for the Cane running backs.
Center Shane McDermott was injured in the game and Jared Wheeler came in and played very well in the reserve role.
Overall the offensive line is getting better and better as the season unfolds.
If there was one surprising aspect in the game, it was the fact that Miami's defense never gave up more than 18 points to North Carolina on Saturday. The Tar Heels went into the game averaging 42 points per game.
The bad aspect of the was the Hurricanes' defense still gave up a lot of yards, especially on the ground. Running back Giovani Bernard ran for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
The defensive line stood strong at times and held UNC to just three points in the second half. The defensive line was actually able to stop some big drives in the second half with key plays.
Overall, it was one of the better games the defensive line has played all season, but still a long ways away from being good.
The Hurricane linebackers had a pretty good game, especially middle linebacker Denzel Perryman who finished with a team-high 11 tackles and three tackles for loss.
Perryman was injured a couple times throughout the game, but when he was on the field he showed everyone that his future is bright.
Another linebacker with a terrific future is Eddie Johnson. Johnson finished with four tackles, two tackles for loss and an interception. He has a tremendous motor and was a headache for the Tar Heel offense all game long.
Overall, the linebackers played well but do struggle at times on wrapping up their tackles.
The defensive backs at Miami are very frustrating at times and this game against UNC was no different. They continue to struggle against short passes and can not shed a blocker, allowing big gains on the outside.
Now this could be a problem with the coaching scheme or lack of talent, either way, its something that needs to be addressed.
Now the defensive backs didn't give up huge numbers (214 yards passing), but the Tar Heels also had problems catching and throwing the ball themselves.
Overall, the defensive backs continued to struggle and much like the rest of the team, they have a hard time wrapping up their tackles.
The good news is they are all extremely young and can only get better. Right?
The Hurricanes only gave up 13.3 yards per kick return and one punt return for 26 yards. Other than that, there wasn't much action on special teams.
Phillip Dorsett had four kick returns for 90 yards and no Hurricane returned a punt.
Does this mean the special teams didn't play a major role? Not at all.
In fact, the lack of a kicking game made Miami go for it on more fourth downs (five) than they need to. The confidence in Jake Wieclaw is very low and I believe it honestly cost the Hurricanes a potential six points on Saturday.
That alone made me drop the grade.
I have been pretty hard on the coaching and for good reason, the defense is ranked No. 118 yards on total defense and now the offense seems to be struggling.
But is it the coaches fault or lack of talent?
Al Golden called a pretty good game on Saturday and had to make some pretty tough choices throughout.
I honestly thought the offensive coordinator, Jedd Fisch, called some very strange calls against UNC. The offense was running the ball successfully when Fisch decided to abandon the run.
Why stop what's working? I honestly believe that if the Hurricanes would have kept running, it would have opened up the deep ball a lot better.
Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio continued to struggle in finding the right scheme on defense. I know the team is young, but this was the seventh game of the season and not much has changed.
No idea what the real problem is on defense, but if they don't fix it by this Saturday, FSU will put up 50 points or more.
As expected (and predicted), the Hurricanes lost this game due to the inability to play solid defense. North Carolina gave Miami multiple chances all game long and the Hurricanes couldn't take advantage.
Dropped passes and poor tackling, something that shouldn't be that big of an issue seven games into the season, continue to plague the Hurricanes.
I also believe that if the Hurricanes had a reliable kicking game, they could have won this game.
Could have, would have, should have; the Hurricanes have a lot of work to do before this week's game against Florida State.
Overall grade: C-