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Miami is 5-7 in its last 12 games

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The Canes have been mediocre for a whole season’s worth of games. Mark Richt has a lot to figure out.

NCAA Football: Duke at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami lost to Duke on Saturday, something that’s supposed to happen in basketball but really shouldn’t in football. The Canes had won four in a row against the Blue Devils and 13 of 15 all-time, though that counts one win that definitely should’ve been a loss.

The final score of this game was 20-12, a perfectly boring score for the ACC Coastal. They played the game in monsoon-like rain on the Canes’ home field, which contributed to two Miami QBs throwing 28 times for 111 yards. The home team ran for 6.8 yards per carry but lost a pair of fumbles and only got inside Duke’s 25-yard line twice all night.

The Canes dropped to 5-4. Their 2018 season was already a failure. But zoom out, and things start to look even uglier.

Miami started 2017 by winning 10 games in a row. It then lost an upset to Pitt on Black Friday, got routed against Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, and lost in its own stadium to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl. The Canes have played a full regular season’s worth of games since jumping out to 10-0 last year, and they’ve gone 5-7.

Seasons aren’t measured that way, obviously, and the last two losses of 2017 were against elite competition. But it’s still been about a year since Miami’s looked any good at all.

It’s easy to see ways Miami could address some of its problems, but addressing them is easier than fixing them altogether.

Here’s a really simple start: Mark Richt could make changes on his offensive staff. He could start by looking outside his own family for a quarterbacks coach. The guy currently filling that role is his son, Jon, and the position group’s been between mediocre and terrible for the last two seasons. Mark Richt’s handling of his QB depth chart has gotten him a lot of flack all year, but it’s hard to make the right decision if no one’s developed enough to win.

Specifically, Canes fans have called loudly regularly for Richt to play redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry over senior Malik Rosier. For a lot of the year, Perry hasn’t gotten much run. He did against Duke, and he went 5-of-16 for 35 yards, which was bad even in those conditions. It’s clear that Miami has to grow talent at that position, even though it’s recruited a couple of recent blue-chips in Perry and true freshman Jarren Williams.

The defense is still good, at least. While Miami had sputtered to 66th in Offensive S&P+ even before doing nothing against Duke, the defense was sitting at 13th. Three of the top five tacklers were seniors, though, and the other two were draft-eligible as juniors. Richt has a big job in front of him for 2019: fixing the offense and maintaining the defense.

The Canes have recruited well and should be able to make more progress then they’ve made. This program shouldn’t go 5-7 over any 12 games.

Al Golden never had a 5-7 record in any given year at Miami, and any Canes fan will talk to you about his tenure with immense horror. It’s a lower rate of winning than Randy Shannon had in his four seasons. The last 12 games are not Richt’s total body of work, but they’re really bad, and it’s now a long enough spell of badness that it should be concerning.

They don’t have to be this bad in the next 12. They probably won’t be even if they don’t make big changes. But they still have road games against Georgia Tech’s triple option and Virginia Tech, and then they have a home game against, uh, a Pitt team that’s well ahead of them in the divisional race. A 6-6 or 7-5 year is totally possible, and that’s not good enough.