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Postscripts, thoughts, Golden reaction, distressing big-picture numbers from UM's 30-13 loss to Virginia

It’s now indisputable: This UM team has underachieved, this brutal night in Charlottesville erasing all the good will and optimism generated by that three-game winning streak that led all of us to the incorrect conclusion that this program had turned the proverbial corner.

Every previous loss this season could have been justified in some way.

Louisville? First start by a freshman quarterback.

Nebraska?  Tough road game against an opponent featuring one of the nation’s premier running backs.

Georgia Tech? A top 25 team this year, better than people expected.

FSU? Now riding a 27-game winning streak.

But this one? Against a 4-6 (now 5-6) Virginia team that had lost four straight?


And yet, not shocking, knowing for every step forward, this program seems to take one or two steps backs.

Reasons for this embarrassment?

Take your pick:

Shoddy offensive line play.

Too many dumb penalties.

Horrendous special teams, specifically the blocked 34-yard field goal that changed the feel of this game late in the first half.

The running game couldn’t provide enough help, with UM outgained 195-64 on the ground. The Canes' 64 yards rushing were a season low.

And Brad Kaaya couldn’t overcome everything malfunctioning around him, finishing 20 for 33 for 263 yards, one touchdown (a 47-yarder to Philip Dorsett) and one pick.     

And so here’s where we stand as Al Golden’s fourth year here nears a close:

### UM has now been outscored 167 to 59 in the second half of its past nine losses.

### UM dropped to 6-5 overall and 3-4 in the ACC, ensuring that Miami cannot match last year’s win total (nine).

### Golden is now 28-20 overall at UM (Randy Shannon was 28-22, by comparison) and 16-15 in the ACC.

### Against teams from the power five conferences, UM is 18-19 under Golden.

### The Hurricanes have played 16 ACC road games under Golden and allowed at least 23 points in 15 of them and at least 30 in 11 of them.

### Golden’s take afterward, on WQAM, which sounded very much like Golden after a bunch of other losses:

“One of the challenges to the team all week was you’ve got to play consistently at a high level, playing in prime time, when you’re getting everything [the opponent has] got. They beat us in all three phases, hit our quarterback, stopped us on third downs, didn’t turn the ball over. There’s no excuse….

"We did not pick up the pressure well enough. We got hit way too many times and got sacked too many times…. I’m disappointed [in the penalties]. I thought we were making progress in that area….We put the defense in some tough spots today. We didn’t execute enough to win the game… We practiced [field goals] every day this week. There was no excuse [for the blocked field goal].

“It starts with me. The coaches, the players. There’s no excuse. We’ve got to finish the season and go back to playing the way we were playing over the last month. We didn’t play well enough. That’s it. That’s my responsibility. There’s no excuse. We didn’t make enough plays.”

### Even with the special teams gaffe, UM trailed just 13-7 at halftime.

But UM self-destructed offensively in the second half, a combination of deplorable offensive line play that couldn’t create enough holes in the running game and didn’t give Kaaya enough time to throw; penalties (Jon Feliciano was shoved, but the officials only noticed Feliciano shoving back, resulting in a 15-yard penalty that essentially torpedoed Miami’s first possession of the second half); and a subpar second half from Kaaya (9-20, 114 yards, a pick).

And why exactly was Kaaya lined up in the shotgun on a fourth and short play from the Virginia 40? Duke Johnson was stopped short on the play, needing to run seven yards even to get back to the line of scrimmage.

Defensively, this UM run defense at times looked too much like the September/early October version.

The Cavaliers averaged 4.5 yards per carry, doing some of their damage up the gut and some to the perimeter. Too often, UM front-seven defenders couldn’t unhinge from blocks and the defensive backs didn’t offer enough help in run support.

Yes, Deon Bush was missed. But the defensive problems ran far deeper.   

Among the exasperating moments:

### Jamal Carter whiffing on an attempt to deflect the one-handed 23-yard TD catch by Canaan Severin, which put the Cavaliers ahead for good, 10-7, late in the first half.

### Nantambu Fentress whiffed on a run blitz and Raphael Kirby missed a tackle on Khalek Shepherd’s 28-yard run.

### UM committing two penalties on a field goal (including an Artie Burns roughing the kicker) that resulted in Virginia scoring on a two-yard TD run.

Only Denzel Perryman (15 tackles) was outstanding for UM defensively.

### UM’s freshmen offensive linemen struggled, with Trevor Darling and Nick Linder both beaten several times.

### UM was penalized nine times, not surprising considering the Canes entered 102nd in the nation in penalties and 106th in penalty yards. This team simply isn’t disciplined enough, and that’s an indictment of coaching.

### This also will fuel criticism of the coaches: UM has had the higher-ranked recruiting classes in four of the past five years, according to rivals.com’s analysis.

UM’s past five recruiting classes were 16th, 36th, 9th, 20th and 12th.  Virginia’s were 67th, 25th, 27th, 28th and 41st.

But players also deserve a large share of the blame for this one. There were too many undisciplined, foolish mistakes, too many missed tackles (Kirby, Ladarius Gunter and others) and generally uninspired play.

“We have to do a better job doing our assignments,” Calvin Heurtelou said.

As WQAM's Duane Starks said: "I didn't see any enthusiasm or anything that made me believe the Canes wanted to be on the field."

### Duke Johnson finished with 88 yards on 15 carries… The final yard total was misleading in that it was this close: Virginia 341, UM 327.

### Receiver Herb Waters, who left on a stretcher, was taken to a local hospital but Dr. Lee Kaplan “was very positive” about his outlook, Golden said.

### UM's regular-season finale, next Saturday against Pittsburgh at Sun Life Stadium, was set for 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Also, kickoff for UF-FSU is 3:30 p.m., with ESPN televising.

### Please check back in the morning for lots of Dolphins, Heat and Marlins in the Sunday buzz column... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz