Miami Hurricanes self-inflicted mistakes doomed them against Clemson

Oct 10, 2020; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 10, 2020; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports /

Too many penalties and turnovers led to self-inflicted mistakes that doomed the Miami Hurricanes in a 42-17 loss to Clemson Saturday night.

Too many self-inflicted mistakes doomed the Miami Hurricanes in a 42-17 loss to Clemson on Saturday night. The Miami offense was completely dominated by the Clemson defense, but penalties and turnovers never gave the Hurricanes a chance to compete against the top-ranked team in college football.

Clemson moved the ball well on their first drive before the Miami appeared to have a fourth-down stop. Miami seemed to stop Clemson on fourth and four at the Hurricanes 37. Quincy Roche nearly intercepted Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence but it would not have mattered as the stop should have turned the ball over.

Roche was flagged for having his foot about two inches over the line of scrimmage and was called for offsides. That was the Hurricanes’ first penalty of the night and foreshadowed what was to be a night full of them. Clemson reached the endzone two plays later on a Lawrence to tight end Braden Galloway 24-yard touchdown pass.

Miami finished the game with 15 penalties for 135 yards. It was the most penalty yards by the Hurricanes since the (in)famous 2015 win at Duke. Too many of penalties could have been avoided and were unforced. Left guard Jakai Clark was called for multiple false start penalties. Two targeting penalties were troublesome.

The referees made the right call in determining targeting, but the rule is flawed. After the game, Miami head coach Manny Diaz stated that the targeting call should have a flagrant one and flagrant two rule similar to the NBA. Striker Keontra Smith was ejected for targeting for leading with his head into Lawrence’s stomach.

Amari Carter received the third targeting ejection of his career. Diaz questioned after the game if Carter was pushed into his targeting call by a Clemson player. Based on his past reputation and in a game the magnitude of Clemson, Carter cannot put himself into a situation to be called for the targeting.

Carter was ejected in the first half putting Miami without two of their top three safeties. Gurvan Hall was ejected in the second half against Florida State. As a result of the ejection against Florida State, Hall had to sit out the first half against Clemson. Freshman Brian Balom was forced to play significant snaps against Clemson.

On the second Clemson drive, the Tigers would have had third and 19 after a holding call wiped out an 11-yard Travis Etienne gain. A personal foul call against the Miami Hurricanes gave Clemson an automatic first down at the Hurricanes 39. Lawrence connected with Etienne for 24 yards later in the drive and a 14-0 lead.

The Miami offense had the ball for 2:29 and trailed 14-0 before they began their second drive. Miami went three and out on their second drive. It was a microcosm of most of the night. A false start to begin the drive was followed by a sack and incompletion for a three and a punt back to Clemson.

On the first drive of the second half after forcing a Lawrence turnover Miami seemed on the verge of getting back into the game trailing 21-10. After getting a first down at the Clemson 26 D’Eriq King was intercepted by the Tigers Sheridan Jones in the end zone. That prevented a Miami field goal that would have made it a one-score game.

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The penalties and turnovers combined with the inability to protect King and poor third-down play on offense and defense by Miami never gave themselves a chance against Clemson. The Hurricanes will have to clean those issues up. Offensively will be key opposing a good Pittsburgh defense next week.