Team Grades for Duke’s 30-27 Loss Against Miami and The Return


First off let me say that this edition of the Duke football team grades for this week is going to be a little different. I am going to give a very abbreviated take on each aspect of the team and then I am going to go on a rant about not only the final play of the game but the game as a whole. Keep in mind I am a Miami Hurricanes football fan even though I am a writer for this Duke site. So here are the grades.

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Offense – C-

On this Miami defense, Duke should have had way more success sustaining drives throughout the game. Only when Miami played prevent “do not lose, but ultimately losing” defense the last two drives of the game did Duke move the ball with ease. QB Thomas Sirk was off most of the night despite not throwing any interceptions. The running game was actually very successful with 182 yards on 39 carries. So the question remains why did Duke struggle the entire game?

Playcalling. Duke’s 39 rushing attempts should easily have been 50. Miami coming into the game could not stop the run. Even in this game, Miami had little success stopping the run consistently. There should be no reason Sirk should have to throw 52 times to be successful.

Defense – C-

Duke’s defense is not elite. The defensive rankings are not a good representation of this defense anymore. Two weeks in a row the ball has been thrown all over this defense by two mediocre quarterbacks. Last week with Michael Brewer and this week with first time starter, Malik Rosier. Rosier finished with 272 yards and two picture perfect touchdowns passes.

The run defense was solid throughout but Miami on the road, without Brad Kaaya, having just fired their head coach a week earlier, should not have had as much success on this defense as they did. Duke has a good defense but not a great one.

Special Teams – D-

This is not a straight up F because they forced a fumble on the opening kickoff even though that resulted in zero points thanks to a goal line stand from the Miami defense. Ross Martin missed another very easy field goal, Will Monday shanked a punt and of course the final play of the game.

Speaking of that play, buckle your seat belt.

Okay. I am a Miami Hurricanes football fan so this will most likely come out as biased. Miami deserved to win that game despite the mistakes made on the final play. I predicted in the game preview that Duke would handle Miami relatively easily because of all the turmoil that has been around the Hurricanes program the week preceding the game.

Many people, not just Duke fans, are endlessly complaining about the result of the game and the referees costing Duke the game. But Miami fans, up until the last play, could complain just as harshly about the refs. 23 penalties were committed by the Hurricanes, second most in the sport’s HISTORY. Just look at the drive before the return. Three pass interference penalties, which two of them were blatantly soft, especially the one where CB Artie Burns intercepted a Sirk throw. That would have ended the game.

Then the actual play Duke scored on. It was in no way clear that Sirk crossed the goal line. If the referees call Sirk down at the goal line the game ends since Duke had no more timeouts and the clock would have continued to run with six seconds left. That final drive was a complete mess that had every Hurricanes’ fan, including myself, jumping up and down in frustration.

Then the return happened. No doubt the officials screwed up the entire process of that play but they reviewed it for nine minutes and awarded Miami the win. That is the nature of sports. There is always an element of human error to every sport and I hope that never goes away. The result of the game will not change and it should not change.

The precedent that would be set by overturning this result would set off a chain reaction of events that no one wants to see. Every fan from every walk of life would have a right to start a petition to get a result of a game changed from over the course of sports’ existence. No result of a sporting event due to the wrong decision of an official will ever be overturned, ever.

Sports teaches us a lot of life lessons like teamwork, will power and never giving up. It also teaches us the bad aspects of life like heart-wrenching disappointment and humans making errors that result in hardships. Duke lost 30-27. One play does not decide a game. If Duke wanted a W then they should have made a clear tackle on the return. They should have just kicked the ball out-of-bounds and the return would have never happened. Do not let a backup QB throw for two touchdowns. It is time to move on from this and remember that you were a part of one of the greatest plays and finishes in college football history.

Duke still controls their destiny in the ACC Coastal. If they win out they are in. Turn your attention to North Carolina this week and do not look back at something that will never be changed.