Updated at 5:05 p.m. with quotes from Head Coach Al Golden and players.
So this is what the bottom feels like? Miami lost to No. 6 Clemson 58-0 at Sun Life Stadium Saturday afternoon in what was technically a football game between two Division I college football teams, but certainly did not feel – or look – like one.
The 58-0 blowout is the worst defeat in school history, just edging out Miami’s 70-14 loss to Texas A&M back in 1944.
“We have to move on. This was terrible and cannot let it beat us tomorrow, or the next day, or next week,” Head Coach Al Golden said. “We got beat from the start by a really good football team. We got beat soundly by this team.”
The “Fire Golden” chants rained down from the stands in the first quarter when Zac Brooks put Clemson up 21-0 with a 1-yard carry. The fans started leaving the “game” with 8:59 left in the second quarter after Artavis Scott ran in a three-yard touchdown to make it 28-0. The loudest cheer of the day came on junior Justin Vogel’s career-long 73-yard punt down to Clemson’s one-yard line in the middle of the second quarter.
“I told the team it’s completely my responsibility for not getting them ready to play,” Golden said. “They just beat us soundly, in every facet of the game.”
Golden said he is not worried about his coaching future at Miami. He is “just focused on coaching the team and going to work every day.”
Multiple players said they still believe in this coaching staff and need to execute better going forward.
Sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya left the game early in the second quarter after he did not pass a concussion test following a massive sack by defensive end Shaq Lawson. Clemson massacred Miami’s offensive line, regularly pressuring or hitting Kaaya whenever he dropped back to pass. Kaaya did not return to the game, and it’s unknown at this time if he will play next week.
“Brad’s one of my best friends. To see your best friend go down and the way he did, it hurts,” said redshirt freshman quarterback Malik Rosier, who replaced Kaaya. “He told me I got to lead, to fill his shoes.”
Rosier promptly had two three-and-outs in his first two drives. Rosier’s fourth pass was intercepted by Cordrea Tankersley and ran back 36 yards for a touchdown to put Clemson up 42-0 with 34 seconds left in the half. This was one play after the Tigers made it 35-0 with 42 seconds left on a six-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Deshaun Watson.
After the first half, Clemson had 363 yards to 84 for Miami. The Tigers averaged 7.6 yards per play compared to 2.8 for the Canes. Miami had five penalties for 66 yards, four of them personal fouls. Clemson’s 42-0 lead at the half was Miami’s largest deficit at any point in a game since trailing Kansas State 52-6 in 2012, per ESPN.
That stat was only true for another six minutes and 14 seconds of game time. Clemson made it 45-0 on a 30-yard field goal by Greg Huegel with 8:46 left in the third quarter. Third-string quarterback Kelly Bryant upped the score to 51-0 on a 59-yard touchdown run with 11:48 left in the fourth quarter. For the fifth time in program history, Miami trailed by 50 points in a football game.
“I don’t really want to talk about that,” sophomore linebacker Juwon Young said when asked about this being the worst loss in Miami football history.
Just when it appeared the game could not get any worse, redshirt senior receiver Rashawn Scott, who was still in for the Canes despite the 51-point deficit, suffered a serious injury on Miami’s next drive and needed help leaving the field. Rosier threw his second interception on the very next snap. Four plays later, Clemson went up 58-0 on a 10-yard rushing touchdown by Bryant.
Clemson (7-0, 4-0) finished the game with 33 first downs and 567 total yards, 416 coming on the ground. Miami (4-3, 1-2) entered the matchup with only two turnovers all season and the best turnover margin in the country at plus-13. The Canes threw three interceptions and forced one turnover on Clemson. Miami finished with 146 total yards and 88 yards of penalties.
“Very disappointed. Very disappointing loss,” senior safety Deon Bush. “It hurts, but we got to be more unified now than ever. We can’t lay down.”
The Tigers started the onslaught early, scoring on their first three possessions of the first quarter. In the first 15 minutes of the game, Clemson scored 21 points, racked up 212 yards and picked up 10 first downs.
Tight end Jordan Leggett took a screen pass from Watson 34 yards for the Tigers’ first score of the game. Running back Wayne Gallman scored the second with a five-yard rush set up by a 63-yard run by Watson. The drive marked the first time Miami allowed points following a turnover after Kaaya was picked off by Jadar Johnson back at Clemson’s 16-yard line.
The Canes appeared ready to play before the game started. About an hour before kickoff, several players were jawing at members of Clemson as the Tigers were headed back to the locker room. The only Miami players that showed any passion during the game were former Canes fed up with the team’s performance.
Joaquin Gonzalez, former offensive tackle and member of the 2016 UM Sports Hall of Fame class, was spotted leaving the field angrily shouting in the second quarter. Many other former Canes expressed their displeasure on social media.
“Our focus doesn’t need to be on the outside. We need to fix the things we need to fix and move forward quickly,” Golden said. “There’s a lot of football left in our division and that’s where our focus needs to be.”
The Hurricanes next face No. 22 Duke at 7 p.m. Saturday in North Carolina.
Feature photo courtesy HurricaneSports.com.