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Clinic Talk: Film Review of Virginia Tech at Miami

The ‘Canes win 28-10 in convincing fashion

Virginia Tech v Miami Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies 28-10 on Saturday, November 4th in front of a hostile crowd in Hard Rock Stadium aka THE ROCK. The Hurricanes defense took the ball away from the Hokies four times, and that means four appearances of the turnover chain. The ‘Canes, dressed in all black “Miami Nights” uniforms played aggressive football on both sides and came out ready to win.

While the defense was near flawless the offense still had sputters. Both sides aren’t perfect but there were some good and bad plays to check out. Here’s a review of a few key plays from the match-up.

Miami Toss Sweep (Pin/Pull)

I’ve never liked the toss play down inside the 10 yard line. Speed option- sure, a slow developing anything let alone toss- no. It’s 4th and goal and you have to score. I’m not sure why anyone would choose to run a play that leaves you with only one option. If you don’t get the look you like (for instance, that overhang linebacker just waiting to kill your running back) why not have a play call that you can get out of?

That defensive look needed a timeout called by Mark Richt because the fullback is used so infrequently in game action that it’s not worth assuming he will make his block on 4th and goal. From there, you can get into something you’re more comfortable with that your offense runs more often. Inside the 5 you need to call your best plays that you trust the most, not something you hardly use.

When Donaldson pulls on the pin/pull, he chases the defensive end who screams to the tailback and bangs right into the fullback. Usually, the offensive line is taught if the end runs that far up field you turn up and block inside, letting the fullback kick that defensive end to the sideline. Instead, Miami has a Florida Gator blocking each other style boo boo.

Miami Inside Zone Read with Arc

Here, Miami has a good play call on and so does Virginia Tech. This is the part about football I love, the chess match style of play calling. The Hokies call for a scrape exchange at the perfect time, Miami is running an inside zone read play. Scrape exchange was designed to stop the zone read.

The back side defensive end “squeezes” to the running back, giving the quarterback a pull read; however, the inside linebacker scrapes outside and replaces where the defensive end usually is- and hits the quarterback. The fullback’s job is to pass over the defensive end and block the safety in case Rosier pulls. It’s flawless against a base defense but against a scrape exchange it makes the fullback look bad when he skips past the linebacker who makes the play.

Above, VT’s number 99, the defensive end, plays inside so slowly that Rosier gives to Homer. 99 sitting there is a ‘give read’ for Rosier, and thus the scrape exchange now has a defensive end outside and a linebacker outside opening a huge hole for Travis Homer to run through.

Virginia Tech Inside Zone Read

Here Miami runs their scrape exchange against Tech’s inside zone read play. When the defensive end, number 31, squeezes down, the linebacker should replace him outside. But he needs to replace him outside and up to the line of scrimmage. Instead the linebacker freezes five yards off the ball and becomes the alley player the fullback blocks. This allows Josh Jackson, the Hokies quarterback, to keep the football because of his defensive end read, and then go untouched because the linebacker is easily blocked.

Miami has to get some of these communication errors fixed before Brian Kelly and Brandon Wimbush pick the linebackers apart with their many variations of the zone read option play and the RPO’s or run pass options they will tag with the zone read running game.

Miami Zone Lead + Post (Run Pass Option)

This is when the RPO haters can say “told ya so,” because Rosier throws a costly interception that allows the Hokies back into the game. Miami runs a zone lead play with no run game read for Rosier. Instead, his read is in the passing tag of the RPO.

For some reason it seems Rosier is reading the inside linebacker. For the double slant play we saw on Gruden’s QB Camp thing, sure, read the inside linebacker. That’s a double slant and the pass replaces the linebacker that plays the run. Here however, it seems as though it’s a post tag in the RPO.

A post tag in the RPO means the single WR to the bottom of your screen is running a post and the read should be the safety to that side. If the safety ran up fast because of the run- throw the football over his head. If the safety plays the post- give to the running back. Here they’re reading the wrong player and it results in an easy interception.

Miami really cleaned up their mistakes from the UNC game to this win over the Hokies. If they can clean up the last few messes, and settle into an offensive scheme, the Miami versus Notre Dame primetime game on November 11th will be another classic.