Canes Unbeaten No Longer
The University of Miami Hurricanes suffered their first loss of the season at home and in the ACC. The Tar Heels of North Carolina defeated Miami 18-14. For the first time this season, the Hurricanes have lost two in a row. Miami’s high-powered offensive attack was befuddled by the Tar Heel defense. Not only did the Canes lose a conference game, they also lost starting quarterback Stephen Morris to a left ankle injury.
Stephen Morris was carried off the field in the 4th quarter after an apparent ankle injury and never returned to the ball game. The injury is said to be a sprain and it is unclear whether he will be ready for this week’s showdown with rival Florida State. As of now, both he and Ryan Williams are listed as co-starters. Before his exit Morris threw for 155 yards converting on 12 of 26 attempts. He added a score from five yards out with his legs. However, Morris did throw two costly interceptions. He missed badly on an under-thrown deep ball over the middle of the field that gave Hurricane fans flashbacks of Jacory Harris nightmares. Backup Ryan Williams came in and almost brought Miami back but was unable to convert on a 4th down conversion with little time remaining. Miami leaned on their senior leader, Mike James, and he delivered. James carried the ball a career-high 22 times for a career-best 96 yards and a touchdown. The compound rushing attack tallied 180 total rushing yards but it was not enough.
To the naked eye, it would seem as though it was the same old song and dance for this young Miami defense. They did give up 272 yards on the ground, 177 to Miami native Giovani Bernard. Bernard also scored twice on the day, once from 10 and once from 17. Looking past those gashing numbers, the Canes defense only gave up 18 points, and this came after the offense turned the ball over twice. Somehow or another Miami managed to escape drives without allowing a Tar Heels score. Linebacker Eddie Johnson recorded an interception near his own goal line to prevent a Carolina score, his first of the season. It was plays like these in addition to a couple missed field goals by Carolina that kept points off the board and Miami in the game.
All in all it was a very winnable game that Miami ultimately gave away. A very vanilla offensive performance was the determining factor in this one. With and without Morris, the offense seemed as though it was lacking something. The Canes were never able to seize control of the game. When the momentum hung in the balance, it was North Carolina who would take it back. The Canes had their chances but just could not take advantage for whatever reason which really is a shame considering how well the defense played relative to previous performances.
The Hurricanes let an important game slip but they cannot dwell on it long. This week, they welcome rival 14th ranked Florida State. The defense will be faced with the daunting task of slowing down the Seminole ground attack starring Chris Thompson as well as their dual threat quarterback EJ Manuel. Things will not get any easier on the offensive side of the ball as Florida State has one of the best defenses in the country. Realistically speaking, it doesn’t look good for the Hurricanes coming in. However, it is a rivalry game so anything is possible.