The Miami Hurricanes beat the Syracuse Orange 27-19 in another late game thriller. This wasn’t cause for comeback but the ‘Canes had to hold off Syracuse down to the last few minutes.
First, let’s address the clock management of Mark Richt on the final drive. Richt didn’t milk the clock on the Orange and thus, left Syracuse time to drive the field in what became a one possession game. But truthfully, Mark Richt did exactly what was needed to win the football game. He kept throwing, he ran the offense at the tempo Miami is most successful in to work down the field and score, and the Orange defense was gassed and Richt took advantage of it. Football is a real game with real scenarios- it’s not all Madden 5 minute quarters and 40 second play clocks where your team runs the same in the 4th quarter or the 2nd quarter. Richt has to play to his team’s strengths and analyze the situations.
Miami’s Snag Concept
The snag concept is one of my favorite concepts, especially when you run stalk/bubble as often as Miami does in their run pass option (RPO) game. The outside WR will run a slant that stops in space, while the inside WR will run a bubble (in some schemes) or an arrow (0 yard out route) in other schemes. For Miami it makes sense to run a stop/bubble.
To the bottom side the #3 threat has to run an outside hitch to drag the linebacker away from helping on the slant. The other two bottom receivers can run whatever as long as they don’t cross the field.
Malik Rosier will read off the flat defender. When the outside linebacker blitzes, he can identify that as who is over #2 (the slot receiver). If he plays the bubble, the slant will be open. The CB to that side has outside leverage so he can’t play a slant effectively because of positioning. If the defensive back over #2 plays the slant the bubble is open because of the depth of the cornerback over #1.
Miami Inside Vertical Concept
To the top of your screen, Miami runs a dig with the outside WR while running a vertical route with the inside WR. To the bottom, Miami runs a vertical with the inside receiver and a comeback with the outside WR. The dig at the top will draw the CB off the vertical, but also lure the eyes of the safety. The comeback will drag the CB out and away from the seam leaving that safety to the side on his own.
With the Orange playing 1-high safety for help, Miami sends both slots up the seams to make the safety choose between them for help. If the safety does help, it’s retroactively to seeing the nickel getting burned and it’ll be late help. Jeff Thomas flashes the speed the ‘Canes were hoping for when he signed in the spring, and beats the nickel. The free is late to help and Thomas scores.
Miami Defending Power Read
Syracuse runs power read, where the quarterback will read the play side defensive end (opposite of the inside zone read where he reads the back side defensive end). If the defensive end plays the QB, the QB gives to the RB on an outside track. If the DE plays the running back outside, the quarterback keeps inside behind the back side pulling guard. It became vogue when Andy Dalton ran it at TCU back in the day (as broken down here.
Miami has struggled to defend power read under Manny Diaz. I know there was a game in 2016 where Manny Diaz’s defense struggled to stop the power read- I’m just struggling to find it right at this moment. But it’s a tough play to defend because it requires assignment football in a game that also features 5 wide receivers, Air Raid concepts, and covering screens and draws from the QB. Syracuse tried it all and the power read was what worked best for them against Miami’s defense.
The Orange were a few sloppy first half plays away from Malik Rosier needing to command another late comeback. But Miami was also 8 drops from dominating this game 42-10 and walking away with an easy win. The Hurricanes have a tune up game against UNC before facing thorn in their side Virginia Tech and then Notre Dame- both on the shag carpeting of Hard Rock.