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A key to the University of Miami's 2015 football season

A guest commentary on one man's thought for the biggest key to success that Miami is overlooking.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Much like all of you, I think about and talk about Canes football with my friends often. Sometimes you can see these conversations on twitter (@UnderwoodSports or @TheStateOfTheU, but you follow those accounts already). Other times, when I'm talking Canes in person, or on the phone, or in game chat while killing Fallen, Vex, or Cabal in Destiny, you can't.

But, today, I'm going to let you on the inside of those other conversations.

My good friend Roman, a lifelong Canes fan and former starting QB at a powerhouse HS program, was making an argument to me the other day that I thought would be great for public consumption. So, here it is. Read it. Think about it. And then hop in the comments below to continue the conversation.


A key to the University of Miami’s upcoming 2015 season is to hurry up, literally.  So much negative attention has been brought upon the defense over the course of Mark D’Onofrio’s tenure here at Miami that it is easy to look past the pace at which we operate.

In 2013, first year Miami Offensive Coordinator James Coley coined the term "Tem-pro." It was a hybrid idiom that expressed Coley’s philosophy on the tempo in which his directed offense would operate. That expression would lead you to believe that one moment a cheetah would lace up Usain Bolt’s Track shoes and jump in a Lamborghini.  In the same breath I guess "Tem-Pro’s" duality could mean that a team would march up to the line of scrimmage, survey the defensive formation, allow everyone on offense to get set, look back to the sideline for a check with me, have a cool nice frappuccino-latte, fluff some pillows and take a nice siesta between plays.  We seem to have preferred the later.

More like "Temp-no"

Miami ranked 104th in the country in plays ran in 2014 and in 2013 under offensive coordinator James Coley. It was also 104th in 2012 and dead last in the country in 2011 under former offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch.

But it can’t be that simple right? Running more plays isn’t the key to winning more games is it? I mean if that was the case EVERYONE would start putting an emphasis on running more plays or adopting an up-tempo offense in an effort to improve their efficacy through sheer volume. And we know that isn’t the trend in college football. (Implement sarcasm with the patented Cheshire James Coley grin)

james coley smile

This isn't a spread vs. pro style debate.  This is simply to illuminate that Miami could benefit from pushing the tempo at which it runs plays.  You don’t have to transform yourself into an Oregon type no-huddle offensealthough seeing randomized huge pictures over Golden’s head  signifying plays on the sideline would be fun. Ironically Al Golden actually alluded to this fact  after his first year.  Golden was quoted on how he would put a premium on increasing the amount of plays per game after the 2011 season.  The 2011 offense had to be perfect.  It had to operate extremely efficiently with essentially no 3 and outs because the limited homeostasis that occurred when they simply didn't have the ball enough limited their chances for putting points on the board.

They finished 6-6.

In general, there is no doubt that the speed of the game has increased over the years. 10 years ago during the ’04-’05 season Boise State led the country with an average 81 plays ran per game. 10 years later the ‘14-‘15 Baylor team averaged over 90 a game. The ’04-’05 Boise State team would have ranked 13th in the country in plays ran last year.  10 years and an almost 10% increase. Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Or look at the sideline.  You choose.  But it’s interesting to point out that in College football’s inaugural year of the playoff system that the 4 teams involved seemed to be pushing the pace in plays produced.

Team Plays Per Game Yards Per Game
Oregon 74.5 547.0
Ohio State 73.2 511.6
Alabama 72.7 484.5
Florida State 69.0 441.4
Miami 64.3 430.3

*Miami's 64.3 Plays per game ranked 104th nationally

Miami’s saving grace is that they averaged over 6.68 yards per play which was good for 11th overall in the country.  They are efficient in that regard. I’ll give them that.  If they could just figure a way to keep the 2014 efficiency in yards per play and ultimately run more plays it could be a recipe that can cook up more wins.

Double Take

Brad Kaaya looked back to sideline seemingly 1,000,348 times a game.

Kaaya sideline look

Photo: Getty Images

Get that kid a neck brace.

The check with me system is predicated on seeing what the defense gives you in an effort to gain a tactical advantage by calling a play which would exploit the exposed defensive alignment.  Its premise is simple. But it was in my opinion very overused and at times stagnant and counterproductive.

Opposing teams on film have adopted philosophies of disguising their coverage and shifting late.  So what exactly are we reading?  Miami is many times reading a base dummy coverage THAT DEFENSES ARE WANTING THEM TO SEE. I recall a film breakdown vs. South Carolina. Miami is twins left.   An outside short side linebacker crowds the line of scrimmage on the twins side which at first glance indicates he’s blitzing.  At this point Kaaya pulls away from scrimmage, gazes towards the sideline and scrupulously dissects the multiple hand signals that are reminiscent of a Jackie Chan fight scene. Kaaya gets the call, bows to his sensei, goes back under center, says hike.  However the linebacker didn't blitz. He fell back into coverage and undercut the underneath primary out route forcing the ball to be thrown incomplete down field. Checkmate.

I am going to play hypothetical here.  If Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe took his current roster and ran a traditional pro-style  ball control offense predicated on smash mouth football do you think he would be as effective? What do you think Duke’s win-loss record would be last year? Would Cutcliffe be as heralded?  Would he be considered as innovative?

The spread up-tempo feel that is such a staple in today’s college football was birthed out of necessity.  It allowed teams who couldn't traditionally stockpile blue chip recruits on a year to year basis an equalizer.  Lining up in a pro style offense and trying to control the clock against teams who consistently out recruited you for better, bigger, faster players was not the best recipe for the proverbial little guy.  But necessity is the mother of all invention. If we spread them out here, if we can isolate them a little on the perimeter there, if we can operate quicker, then a revolution was born.

To kill the coaching-bird

There was another added benefit noted when these revolutionary outgunned, traditionally out-recruited coaches gained the faster and faster they went on the field: opposing defenses couldn't sink their teeth in you with exotic coverages.  There were a lot less late shifts to confuse you. There was no chance to outsmart my "check with me" scheme. Because by the time your defensive coordinator made a call in from the sideline, I already snapped the ball. The scale now tipped to the continuously out-recruited.

Big school, big money, big coaching

I’m not going to say just because you pay a guy a lot of money he’ll be a success (Cough Cough Muschamp Cough Cough). But I’m not going to say that having a huge piggy bank and paying the likes of Urban Meyer and Nick Saban hasn't exponentially provided huge dividends for their respective schools either.

With this subject I’ll always default on that with every school it just simply takes the "right coach." Albeit the more money you have, the more opportunity you seem to have to get the "right guy."  But when the opposing team has the "right coach" and all the "right players" because they have out recruited me, than how in the world can I expect to consistently beat them if I just line up traditionally in a pro-style slow tempo set.  (Al Golden is 0-4 vs. FSU)

11 years and 11 National Champions.

Two prerequisites to ask yourself. 1. If they run a pro style offense have they traditionally recruited better than Miami in that time period?  2. Do they run a variation of the spread with some up-tempo tendencies?

Year National Champion
2004 USC
2005 Texas
2006 Florida
2007 LSU
2008 Florida
2009 Alabama
2010 Auburn
2011 Alabama
2012 Alabama
2013 FSU
2014 Ohio State

I played along and the teams on this list have (on average) statistically recruited better than Miami. And 4 of these champions ran spread concepts. And yes. Some of these teams recruited better and ran spread/push the pace/zone read concepts. 11 years is enough to base a trend.  These are some power house schools, who had/have power house coaching with some powerhouse recruiting.  Miami doesn't have a powerhouse coach.  How can he be? His career record is 55-55. Miami doesn't have a powerhouse offensive coordinator. (He was brought in as an ace recruiter who never called a collegiate game)  Miami didn't display powerhouse recruiting this past offseason. (My recruiting grade was a C-) Miami right now isn't a powerhouse school.  Sorry.

I don’t see Miami lining up in this check with me scheme, slowing the tempo, and consistently beating teams on that list on a consistent basis. Nope. Not with a lifetime .500 head coach whose offensive coordinator, after the most brilliant virtuoso Da Vinci-esque  of opening scripted plays are through, loses his feel like his hands were encased in cement while falling face first in quick sand. "Kaaya CHECK WITH ME CHECK WITH ME!" This staff is not good enough to line up and out scheme or outcoach its opponent in the span of 15 games. That’s what a National Championship would require. "Are you kidding me?"  They were 6-7.

Al Golden has tried to build a Log Cabin in South Florida. It’s totally counter-intuitive to the South Florida high school community and its pedigree.  I've had 4 years to know it doesn't work. It’s slow and cumbersome and it seems to be permeating into the offense.  I don’t need a fifth to validate his stance.

If you can’t consistently out-recruit them, and you can’t consistently outcoach them in the confines of your system, then go to the Dallas Cowboys and observe a run oriented ground and pound offense with arguably the best offensive line in the league with a rejuvenated and resurgent pro-bowl/All-Pro running back. WHAT? If I were to give advice on what NFL team to shadow…..The Dallas Cowboys would not have been it.  That’s not how the current college landscape is favoring.  It’s either beat them with recruiting or beat them by running really fast around them on the field.

But mark my words Al Golden; you will not beat teams week to week by going slow and running over them.  You tried that many times last year and it didn't work.  Maybe if you didn't worry so much about keeping your defense on the field too long and cannibalizing your offense you’d realize that.


Thank you to Roman for this guest post. I don't know why, but I have a feeling this one will get the fanbase talking. Add your thoughts in the comments below.

You can follow Roman on twitter here: