The Miami Hurricanes have allowed 58 or more points twice in less than a month. And that would be fine if we were talking Hurricanes basketball.
But those points were allowed by Miami in football.
In Saturday’s 59-21 loss at North Carolina, the first nine penalties went against the Canes, all in the first half, as Miami fell behind 31-0, never to recover. North Carolina wasn’t hit with an offensive penalty until only 2:12 remained in the game.
Things got so embarrassing for the Canes that two North Carolina players mocked Miami’s famed “U” hand sign, turning it upside down, reflecting the decade-plus spiraling fortunes of this once-dominant football program.
UM interim coach Larry Scott — who took over for the fired Al Golden after a 58-0 loss to Clemson on Oct. 24 — was asked if those gestures by North Carolina were seen as insulting.
“Those things are viewed as that by our kids,” Scott affirmed. “It is a sign of disrespect.”
As for the chronic penalty issue — Miami entered Saturday No. 126 out of 127 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in number of infractions per game — Scott did not deny his concern.
“It’s something you don’t brush by or pretend it’s not happening or not hurting us,” Scott said.
Scott added that the solution is to “put in consequences for guys who habitually do those things.”
If Miami wants to punish players who make mistakes, there could be a long line in the Hurricanes’ detention center because — judging by Saturday’s events — there’s more than enough blame to go around, including:
▪ Special teams: UM gave up a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown, missed a chip-shot 32-yard field goal and interfered with a punt returner trying to make a fair catch. In addition, Miami started one of its drives on its own 2-yard line and one on its 5 as a result of North Carolina’s superiority on special teams.
▪ Offensive lineman Kc McDermott had a rough game. His holding penalty negated a 19-yard run by Joe Yearby. McDermott was later called for illegal procedure. He also was late moving over to block a blitzer, resulting in a strip sack.
▪ Cornerback Artie Burns was hit with two pass-interference calls and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which appeared to be him voicing his displeasure at one of the calls. To be fair, Burns’ plays could just as easily have been ruled non-fouls.
▪ UM’s defense was hit for a penalty for too many men on the field. The offense was twice penalized for illegal formation. Not getting lined up properly — on either side of the ball — makes the whole team look bad.
▪ A coverage bust — cornerback Corn Elder left the man lined up in front of him, and that player ended up making a 32-yard catch — was another mental breakdown.
▪ UM appeared out of control at times. Cases in point: a late-hit call on safety Rayshawn Jenkins, a taunting call on receiver Stacy Coley, a roughing call on defensive end Chad Thomas and the aforementioned unsportsmanlike penalty on Burns.
▪ There were physical errors, too, including a high snap by center Nick Linder resulting in a lost fumble, a bad read by quarterback Brad Kaaya that led to an interception and a key drop by receiver Herb Waters.
The end result was another brutal loss for UM team that is 6-4 (3-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) with three games left, including a likely bowl berth.
Miami is just 3-4 in its past seven games, and one of those wins was the controversial victory over Duke. And given that the Canes’ stated goal of winning the ACC’s Coastal Division is now impossible, does Scott view this season as a failure?
“Absolutely not,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot. We’re a 6-4 ball team, and we’re bowl eligible. Any time you have an opportunity to go to a bowl, the season is not a failure.
“Obviously, the expectations at the University of Miami are always high. But the season is not a failure.”