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Miami Shut Out 14-0 by Louisiana Tech in 2019 Independence Bowl

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IIIDecember 27, 2019

Louisiana Tech's J'Mar Smith (8) directs his team against Texas during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs notched their sixth straight bowl victory by outlasting the Miami Hurricanes 14-0 in the Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana. 

It was a win, but it was ugly.

The Bulldogs and 'Canes combined for the most punts ever and the second-fewest points in an Independence Bowl.

The contest remained scoreless through the first quarter—the first scoreless opening quarter at this bowl since 2010—before Louisiana Tech quarterback J'Mar Smith found running back Israel Tucker for a 26-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter. Smith later ran in an eight-yard score in garbage time.

Miami showed signs of life when Gilbert Frierson intercepted Smith early in the fourth quarter, but the Hurricanes offense squandered the opportunity with a six-play, 11-yard drive that ended in yet another punt:

David Wilson @DBWilson2

HISTORY: Louisiana Tech ties the Shreveport Bowl record with nine punts.

The Hurricanes regained possession still down just 7-0 and were driving when redshirt sophomore N'Kosi Perry, the team's third quarterback of the evening, threw an interception with Miami at midfield and 3:25 left in regulation to seal it.

Manny Navarro @Manny_Navarro

Miami hasn't been shutout in a bowl game since the 29-0 loss to Arizona in the 1994 Fiesta Bowl. Last shutout -- regular season or bowl game -- was 58-0 to Clemson. #Memories

Brett McMurphy @Brett_McMurphy

Louisiana Tech becomes 1st team to shut out Miami in a bowl since Arizona (29-0) in 1994 Fiesta Bowl

David Wilson @DBWilson2

Miami's three shutout losses this century: the last game at the Orange Bowl, the game that got Al Golden fired and the 2019 Independence Bowl.

Louisiana Tech put together a successful 2019. The Bulldogs rode an eight-game winning streak before losing two of their last three but finished at 10-3, their first 10-win campaign in program history.

Miami, meanwhile, ended a wholly disappointing season with a thud. The Hurricanes dropped their final two regular-season contests to unranked Florida International and Duke to land at 6-6. This loss put them at 6-7 to end a year below .500 for the first time since 2014.

The Hurricanes were without lead running back DeeJay Dallas after he suffered a season-ending dislocated elbow against FIU on Nov. 23. Tight end Brevin Jordan did not dress, as he had been out with a left foot injury before returning for the regular-season finale and aggravating it.

Wide receiver Jeff Thomas and linebacker Michael Pinckney also skipped the game to prepare for the 2020 NFL draft.

Notable Performances

Louisiana Tech

LA Tech QB J'Mar Smith: 163 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 10 carries, 33 yards, 1 TD

LA Tech RB Justin Henderson: 22 carries, 95 yards

LA Tech RB Israel Tucker: 5 carries, 13 yards; 1 catch, 26 yards, 1 TD

LA Tech WR Malik Stanley: 3 catches, 75 yards

   

Miami

MIA QB Jarren Williams: 94 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

MIA QB N'Kosi Perry: 52 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

MIA RB Cam'Ron Harris: 12 carries, 31 yards

MIA WR K.J. Osborn: 5 catches, 56 yards

   

Miami's Season-Long Offensive Woes Define Independence Bowl Outing

Manny Diaz could not have foreseen his first season as head coach going this poorly. 

A bolded and underlined question mark at the quarterback position is the main reason the Hurricanes have so grossly underperformed, and that was on full display against Louisiana Tech.

Redshirt freshman Williams started the game but proved inaccurate and ineffective enough that redshirt sophomore transfer Tate Martell, who had not taken a snap at quarterback all season and was briefly transitioning to wide receiver, came in for a series in the second quarter. Martell didn't look any better:

Manny Navarro @Manny_Navarro

Tate Martell's first series: 6 snaps. 1 pass for 7 yards. 5 runs that covered 65 yards, but actually picked up 5 yards

David Furones @DavidFurones_

The Tate experiment lasts one drive -- for now. Jarren Williams back in.

The 'Canes entered the locker room at halftime with 135 yards of total offense, continuing a worrisome trend:

David Wilson @DBWilson2

Miami has been shutout in the first half in two of its last three games. The Hurricanes have had 15 scoreless quarters this year. They trail Louisiana Tech, 7-0, at halftime.

Miami finished the night with 227 yards of offense. Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reported that offensive coordinator Dan Enos and the team "are expected to part ways" after the Independence Bowl, and Enos' offense did not do much to change Miami's mind.

Even heralded Hurricanes alumnus and NFL Hall of Famer Ed Reed felt compelled to disavow Miami's performance:

Ed Reed @TwentyER

🤮

Reed was far from the only critic:

Kevin Clark @bykevinclark

Bowl game edition. https://t.co/AHZaelx21i

Kevin Clark @bykevinclark

Miami has lost eight of their last nine bowl games and is getting shut out by Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl. Everything is broken.

Manny Navarro @Manny_Navarro

When Jarren Williams threw a deep ball to KJ Osborn I started to hear some cheering in the Miami AD press box coming from Michael Irvin. It ended with... "ahhh!"

Manny Navarro @Manny_Navarro

Louisiana Tech's best defensive performance this season was a 35-7 win over Bowling Green in which it gave up 290 yards. Bowling Green was 3-9 this season and finished 128th in scoring. Miami has 149 yards of total offense and trails 7-0 with 11:09 left in the 3rd quarter

David Wilson @DBWilson2

Miami has only had one takeaway in the last 10-plus quarters. It has only highlighted how inept the offense is.

Diaz commented on his disappointment in an article published by the Sun-Sentinel's David Furones on Dec. 2: 

"We had to correct the offense, and what we had to correct, specifically, was the quarterback position. I think that’s the most disappointing part here in the last few weeks because of the inconsistencies. ... When you step back and look at us, you say, 'Well, who are we? What are we on offense? Are we the bunch that scored 52 points and set school records against Louisville and the way that we looked at Florida State?' And then you look at the way we finished the final two weeks—not being able to score in the first half against FIU, starting the game with all the three-and-outs at Duke and not being able to—all we needed was a touchdown in the third quarter Saturday and nothing may have turned into a rout because, defensively, we were in complete control of the game.

"Quarterback play, which was very inconsistent—we had guys in and out of the lineup—that's the part that's the biggest disappointment, the biggest letdown. And that’s where my attention is because it's our responsibility to get it fixed and I will get it fixed."

The way Williams, Martell and Perry looked Thursday creates additional pressure on incoming freshman Tyler Van Dyke. 247Sports has Van Dyke ranked as a 4-star, pro-style prospect.

Beyond quarterback, however, Pinckney has expressed confidence in Diaz's ability to restore Miami to its 1990s and early 2000s lore:

David Furones @DavidFurones_

Michael Pinckney makes his case for why he has faith in Manny Diaz in the future. “Everybody don’t see the results, but results take time.” https://t.co/dFeTFDK5Mk

Diaz, meanwhile, expected the Independence Bowl to be the start of the transformation. 

"It has to start somewhere and that is what this game is all about," he said on Christmas Eve, according to 247Sports' David Lake. "We have talked about this game being a bridge to the 2020 season. ... We are trying to set the expectation of how to prepare for a bowl game and how to win a bowl game. How to win a trophy. That is a learned behavior."

Zero points later, the Hurricanes will instead want to forget this bowl and start completely over next year.