Notes, quotes and observations from UM’s demoralizing 48-30 loss to Duke, its third consecutive defeat:
### And so a season that started so promisingly has deteriorated into an ugly mess, exposing all the defensive shortcomings this staff thought it had fixed.
And this one was particularly nauseating, not only because Duke bludgeoned UM on the ground, not only because Duke ended the game on a 20-0 stampede, not only because Duke hadn’t beaten UM since 1976 (spanning nine UM wins in the series), but also because Maryland had delivered a huge gift to UM by beating Virginia Tech earlier in the day. That means UM would have gone to the ACC Championship game by winning out. No longer. Now Duke controls its destiny in the ACC Coastal.
Read these numbers and weep: Duke’s 358 rushing yards were its most since 1994. The Hurricanes allowed 543 yards overall and have now permitted 1609 over the past three games. Duke averaged 6.9 yards per carry. And there’s there: UM has allowed more than 500 yards in four of its past five games.
### Al Golden’s take, afterward on WQAM: “We didn’t make enough plays. There are no excuses. We didn’t tackle well enough. We had too many penalties. We gave up too many explosive plays, especially on the ground. There’s enough blame to go around. It’s my responsibility to get it corrected tomorrow. We have to look at every aspect of what we’re doing and what we’re coaching. We’re not getting any takeaways. It’s not just the defense’s issue. It’s everyone on the team’s issue.”
### So what’s the problem defensively? Where do we start?
Curtis Porter and Justin Renfrow, so effective early in the season at defensive tackle, couldn’t unhinge from blocks. (Olsen Pierre and Luther Robinson didn’t exactly distinguish themselves, either.)
Anthony Chickillo and Shayon Green couldn’t seal off the edge on several outside runs and didn't offer much help on runs inside the tackles.
Jimmy Gaines once again lost running backs and tight ends in coverage. Even when UM was rushing only three, backs or tight ends were still wide open on at least two occasions.
The pass rush has disappeared, with Chickillo, Green, Tyriq McCord, Al Quadin Muhammad and others unable to generate any kind of consistent pressure.
Tyrone Cornelius never bothered turning around on a 22-yard TD pass in the first half.
McCord and Cornelius were obliterated on Josh Snead’s 31-yard run.
Porter couldn’t get off a block and AJ Highsmith missed a tackle on Snead’s 56-yard run.
Tackling was again shoddy, with Gaines, Rayshawn Jenkins, Denzel Perryman, Highsmith and others missing tackles.
UM defenders --– Denyel Peryman, Cornelius, Deon Bush and others --– couldn’t fight off blocks on screen plays in their area.
As Golden said, “We’re losing leverage on runs stunting inside.” (As we noted here Friday, one former UM defensive player said UM is stunting too much.)
Linebackers took poor angles, as Micheal Barrow pointed out to them on the sideline (according to WQAM).
Ladarius Gunter was beaten on a long pass, though his coverage wasn't awful on the play.
Defensive lineman Ufomba Kamalu didn’t read a play correctly, allowing a sizable run early in the game.
We could go on, but you get the picture.
Bottom line: UM has no answers for anything.
By the way, defensive end David Gilbert, who was honorable mention Big 10 and a very good starter on a solid Wisconsin team last season, continues to receive limited playing time. Gilbert, who has a history of foot problems, is healthy enough to play, but UM coaches believe Green is the better player. And in fairness to Green, he had been one of UM’s best defenders before November.
### The offense --– missing four key players in the fourth quarter --- finished with an impressive yardage total (565) but stalled over the final 20 minutes, unable to come away with any points on its final five possessions.
Here’s how the final five series ended: A bad exchange, and fumble by Dallas Crawford on a third and one (UM recovered but the play lost yards); Stephen Morris threw incomplete to Allen Hurns on a 3rd and 7; Morris came up two yards short on a third down (and the Hurricanes regrettably punted, down eight, from their own 43 with 10:18 left); Hurns dropped a pass on fourth and three; and Morris ran for seven yards on a 4th and 10 late in the game.
By the way, after that questionable decision to punt on the fourth and two, it took Duke only two plays to penetrate the UM 43, where Duke would have gotten the ball if UM had gone for it on fourth down and hadn't gained a yard.
### Morris closed 30 of 49 for 379 yards and played without two of his best weapons (Duke Johnson, Phillip Dorsett) and well over half the game without Stacy Coley. Herb Waters had nine catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns but missed much of the second half with a groin injury. Hurns had eight catches for 107 yards.
“We are going to do a lot of focusing on ourselves the next couple of weeks, go back to the drawing board,” Morris said. “We’ve got to score more.”
Crawford ran hard, finishing with 115 yards on 19 carries.
### UM lost Coley to concussion-like symptoms not long after his punt return for a touchdown that gave UM a 10-0 lead. Artie Burns (ankle) also missed the second half with an injury.
Please see the last post for Saturday Dolphins notes.