The Miami Hurricanes came to their first ACC Championship Game and acted scared. From the opening kick off they didn’t seem to be comfortable against the Clemson Tigers. Clemson walked down the field and scored too easily and it felt over after the opening drive. Miami was flat, almost lethargic, and were confused in scheme all night. The offensive line couldn’t protect Rosier, Rosier missed a few reads when he did have time, and the defense was misaligned and lost all night in coverage.
This was a true case of being out classed and out coached. Clemson is the cream of the ACC crop and with Jimbo Fisher running off to Texas A&M, they’ll own the Atlantic for a few more years. Here are three plays I found that I felt could show some of what I’m trying to describe from the game regarding the scheme.
Miami “Defends” Clemson’s Weak Zone Read
For how “aggressive” Manny Diaz can be in the middle of the field, he played this quite passive inside the 5 yard line. Miami employs two safeties against Clemson’s 11 personnel formation. I’m not sure what an extra safety to a one receiver side is going to do from the 4 but he stays back there and doesn’t come down to help in the run until it’s too late.
Also, Miami only has 6 in the box inside the 5. That’s 8 offensive players in the run game versus 6 defensive players. With Clemson reading the defensive end, they can now use 6 to block 3. The Miami linebackers are slow to read the play and one even allows himself to be blocked. Clemson scores effortlessly. I’m not sure why at this place on the field and against this formation, Miami wouldn’t put a linebacker up on the line outside the tight end to force him to block the defensive end and read him, or vice versa. Anything to make the read have to change and stop 6 from blocking 3. The 4 yard line is time for press man coverage and putting safeties and linebackers up to stop the run. If you’re beat on the goal line in the passing game you’re beat. Safeties won’t help.
Miami Defends Clemson’s Unbalanced Formation
Dabo Swinney, once the fodder of message board geniuses everywhere has turned into the best coach in the country. Dabo has transformed Clemson from an also-ran into the elite team in the College Football Playoff era. The Tigers lost their first CFP title game appearance in a close match-up to Alabama. Then in 2016 they won the national championship against the Crimson Tide. Here in 2017 they’re the top ranked team in the country heading into their third consecutive playoff run. That’s nothing short of Saban-level success and he’s doing it at a place that has been known for good but not great football teams in decades past.
Here, Dabo uses an unbalanced formation to trick Miami’s defensive backs and linebackers who have been lost in coverage all season. Miami’s linebacker, McCloud, decides to freeze on the bubble even though it’s ineligible and the seam route gets behind him. Miami’s safety doesn’t pick up the seam and it’s a big gain. Fumble and recovery aside, this is terrible coverage by Miami. Once again they players look confused and they get burned deep.
Miami’s Pass Blocking vs. Clemson’s 3-man Rush
Miami’s passing combinations here leaves a lot to be desired in the first place. The two crossing routes are ran two yards apart which allows one defender to cover both players. The cross-seam post or whatever is being ran by Berrios doesn’t get enough separation. The swing draws two defenders but somehow Miami can’t find anyone open and Rosier can’t find a running lane with only 4 yards to go. The Clemson defensive line rushes three men and they still come away with a sack.
Someone has to figure out that when half the field has no pass rush it’s time to run behind McDermott and get the four yards, or at least three and change and set up a 4th and inches. Instead it’s another sack and a punt.
The 2017 season has exceeded expectations of any reasonable Miami Hurricanes fan. I’m pretty sure I predicted a 9-win season and I’m happy with the quick turnaround on the rebuild. However, this program has to take the next step in 2018 regarding scheme and fundamentals. If players are leaving early, unless they’re RJ McIntosh- they’re crazy. It’s time to stay in school and refine your game. Let’s enjoy bowl season and look forward to another great recruiting class in 2018.