If the Miami Hurricanes’ 17-9 loss to then-No. 24 Texas A&M the previous weekend was bad – and it was with just 3 three field goals and a special-teams meltdown to show for their efforts – then what happened Saturday surely was worse.

Miami was blasted 45-31 at home by a mid-major squad, Middle Tennessee State.

The 25th-ranked Hurricanes (2-2) are 4 games into the 10-year contract for coach Mario Cristobal, who said he didn’t see a letdown following the loss to the Aggies.

“We’ve practiced well,” Cristobal said of his squad, which now will free-fall out of the Top 25. “We’ve pushed our guys hard.”

Whatever they’ve done, it’s not working.

That said, here are 5 takeaways on the Canes:

1. Potential QB controversy

The Canes will have a bye week before they open their 2022 ACC schedule against visiting North Carolina.

Cristobal will use that time to figure out what he wants to do at quarterback, where Tyler Van Dyke was benched during the 3rd quarter Saturday in favor of Jake Garcia.

Van Dyke, who started the season with the hype of an NFL first-round pick for 2023, doesn’t look that good anymore.
His first 2 passes Saturday were intercepted, and he was benched after compiling the following stats: 16-for-32 for 138 yards, 1 touchdown and the 2 picks.

Beyond the numbers, Van Dyke just couldn’t find a groove, missing open receivers on several occasions.

Garcia, meanwhile, came in and led Miami to an immediate touchdown, including a terrific deep throw. Overall, he completed 10 of 19 passes for 169 yards with no interceptions. He led Miami to a pair of touchdowns, not counting Key’Shawn Smith’s kickoff return score.

2. Injuries a concern

The Hurricanes had 5 stud running backs to start the year. Now, they’re down to 1.

Henry Parrish Jr. (possible concussion) and Jaylan Knighton (ankle) went down Saturday, and there’s no immediate word on how long they will be out.

Don Chaney and freshman 4-star recruit TreVonte’ Citizen have yet to play this season, and they are out long-term.
That leaves just Thad Franklin, and he probably would rank 4th or 5th among all the Miami RBs if everyone were healthy.

In addition to the calamity at running back, punter Lou Hedley and wide receivers Xavier Restrepo and Jacolby George missed the MTSU game, and cornerback Daryl Porter suffered a shoulder injury that is not believed to be too serious.

Cornerback Tyrique Stevenson injured a “lower extremity,” and that potentially could be bad if it’s a knee. He is a key to Miami’s defense.

3. Running game stuffed

Parrish had 14 carries for 57 yards (4.1 average), and his absence was felt when he went out during the 3rd quarter.
Knighton had just 2 carries for 1 yard, and he now is dealing with his 2nd injury of this young season. That’s a concern.

Franklin doesn’t have much wiggle, and his blockers didn’t create running lanes, which explains his 36 yards on 15 carries (2.4 average).

“Our run game was nowhere near what it had been,” Cristobal said. “(MTSU) had an extra (defender) in the box, but we’re still not blocking like we should. We weren’t pushing them back.”

4. Defense toasted

Miami’s defense got burned for 4 pass plays of more than 65 yards.

To be precise, there was an 89-yard bubble screen full of missed tackles that led to a touchdown, and there were throws of 69, 71 and 98 yards that went over the top of Miami’s embarrassed defense.

Miami made Blue Raiders quarterback Chase Cunningham look like Randall Cunningham (look it up, he once was a stellar NFL QB).

Chase passed for 408 and 3 TDs on Miami in just 25 attempts, completing 16.

“We always thought (MTSU) had a good passing operation,” Cristobal said. “They’ve always had a next-level passing attack. They get rid of the ball quickly, and your pass rush, for the most part, is negated.”

Cristobal said the Blue Raiders beat man coverage.

“You can check the film – there’s no sugar-coating it,” Cristobal said. “We’ve got to scheme better and analyze matchups better.

“Good throws, good catches – they got behind us. No excuses.”

5. Losing skids

This is the 11th consecutive year the Canes have had at least a 2-game losing streak.

The failure to stop the proverbial bleeding became a glaring issue during 2016, when the Canes went 9-4 but had a 4-game skid; and again in 2017, when they started 10-0 but then lost their final 3 games.

In 2018, the Canes were 5-1 before suffering a 4-game losing streak to finish 7-6.

One reason for those skids is simple: The Canes have been mostly mediocre during the 2 decades since their 20-year dynasty ended.

Case in point is this nugget: The last time Miami didn’t lose consecutive games was during 2011. But the Canes’ record that year was just 6-6.

In other words, whether it’s win 1, lose 1 … or lose a couple/few in a row, Miami just hasn’t been able to recreate its dynasty that ended a generation ago.