Another week, another embarrassing loss for the Miami Hurricanes.

The home loss to Middle Tennessee on Sept. 24 was the low point of the season, and it will be tough to beat in that category.

But Saturday’s 45-21 home loss to Duke is a close second as the Hurricanes turned the ball over 8 times and lost their starting quarterback, Tyler Van Dyke, to a right-shoulder injury. Star safety James Williams also left the game injured, but there’s no update on either player.

This continues a 2022 trend in which the Canes self-destruct. Last week, the Canes should have blown out Virginia Tech. Instead, they held on for dear life due to 17 penalties for 159 yards.

Earlier this season, the coaching staff gave the game away against Texas A&M with an overly conservative strategy, going for 5 field goals – and making just 3 – in a 17-9 loss at Texas A&M.

But, again, this was far worse than that, especially since Duke had just one reliable call in its offensive playbook – a quarterback keeper.

But, even though Miami knew – or should have known – that QB Riley Leonard was going to run the ball, they could not stop him. He ran for 3 TDs and threw for 1 Saturday.


Here are 5 takeaways after the Canes’ most recent humbling loss:

1: QB quandary

If Van Dyke is injured long-term, it will create an opportunity for Jake Garcia and/or Jacurri Brown.

Garcia entered the game with Miami trailing 17-7 in the second quarter. In the third, he threw TD passes on consecutive drives, giving Miami a 21-17 lead before everything fell apart.

Garcia finished 13-of-21 for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns. But he was also intercepted 3 times.

“We have to protect the ball,” Garcia said. “The ball is the program.”

Garcia – like Van Dyke and seemingly every Miami QB for the past two decades – had issues with short drop-backs and pocket awareness.

Brown, a true freshman from Georgia, has been used as a runner, and he’s been exciting in that role. It will be interesting to see if his role expands with Van Dyke out injured.

2: Leonardo de Touchdown

OK, we took some liberties with the young man’s last name. But what else can you say after Duke quarterback Riley Leonard dominated the game despite passing for just 136 yards?

His only TD pass wasn’t even overhand – it was a 2-yard shovel toss.

Leonard scored his first 2 TDs of the game on 3rd-and-goal runs – and those were on the short list of the most important plays in the game. On his second run, Leonard was getting tackled when he stretched the ball over the goal-line.

It was a great effort by Leonard – no doubt. But with so few weapons besides Leonard, there’s no way the Canes should’ve been beaten largely by one player.

Leonard, who is 6-4 and 210 pounds, said he has a linebacker’s mentality, which was taught to him by Duke’s coaches.

“Man, do we have a competitor at quarterback,” Duke coach Mike Elko said of Leonard. “What a player.”

3: In a giving mood

Miami had 1 fumble each by Jaylan Knighton, Key’Shawn Smith and Van Dyke. Garcia lost 2 fumbles in addition to his 3 interceptions.

Miami also turned the ball over on downs twice, including on one occasion in which the Canes fell just one inch short of the line.

“Our defense had to show up,” Elko said, “and they played their best game of the year.”

4: Bright spots

There were a few early in the game, such as defensive backs James Williams and DJ Ivey stripping the ball and recovering for 2 turnovers that went Miami’s way.

On offense, Colbie Young has become a beast with his second straight 100-yard game. He had 6 catches for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Miami tight end Will Mallory did a nice job with a 34-yard TD reception on a crossing pattern.

5: Up next

Miami will play at Virginia on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The Canes are 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the ACC. The season is now about getting eligible for what will be a minor bowl game – at best.

Finding out about young players – including Garcia and Brown – will be the other key.