Defense, running game at fault for loss

The first time that North Carolina defeated Miami in one of the major sports should have been Jan. 22. That is when the Tar Heels will play the Hurricanes in men’s basketball.

However, on Saturday, Oct. 30, Miami was defeated 31-28 by UNC in football.

The loss can be attributed to two main factors: Miami’s problems running the football and the fact that the Hurricanes could not stop the Tar Heels on defense.

Let’s start with the offense. The Tar Heels had the 116th ranked defense in the country entering the game and had allowed over 1200 yards of offense the past two weeks. They had given up over 500 yards of offense in every game this season except for one, when Georgia Tech gained 493 yards.

On Saturday, Miami gained 415 yards, the lowest output against the Tar Heels this season. William and Mary had more yards of offense against UNC than Miami did. Also, William and Mary scored 38 points on the Tar Heels defense compared to just 28 for Miami.

The problem was that the Hurricanes were never able to establish the running game. Miami rushed the ball 23 times for only 74 yards and did not have a running back gain over 30 yards on the ground.

Perhaps the most surprising thing is that despite the running game struggling, this loss falls squarely on the shoulders of the defense. At the beginning of the season, the defense looked phenomenal. Miami’s pass defense was one of the best in the nation before the Louisville game.

However, in what has become a common theme in the last three games, the Hurricanes defense struggled again. I gave them a free pass for a couple of weeks because they started out so well the first few games. Now, let me be the first writer to come out and state the simple fact that our defense stinks.

The Tar Heels actually out gained the Hurricanes with 551 yards of offense. They ran 85 offensive plays and held the ball for almost two-thirds of the game.

The most telling stat of the game was the difference in rushing yards. UNC had 176 yards rushing in the first half and ended the day with 287 in 50 attempts.

The saddest thing about the loss was that it did not seem like a fluke. The Hurricanes lost on the last play, but they were lucky to be tied at that point. They were outplayed throughout the game on both sides of the ball.

After the game, Head Coach Larry Coker said that the defense’s inability to get a stop was “mind boggling,” but it really should not have been that surprising. They haven’t stopped anybody for three weeks now. Offenses have figured out how to beat the Miami defense.

The Hurricanes have had injuries, but this is UNC we are talking about, not FSU. Even a banged up Miami team should have been able to handle the Tar Heels.

Saturday marked the first time FSU, Florida and Miami lost on the same day since 1978.

Miami’s loss to UNC has eliminated them from national title contention. Let’s make no mistake about that. Winning the ACC is the best that the Hurricane fans can hope for. The only way that will happen is if the Hurricanes fix their problems on defense. A defensive stand against Clemson and holding them under 500 yards would be a good start.

Darren Grossman can be contacted at