The Orange Bowl used to be Miami’s most dominant major bowl game. During the glory days, the Hurricanes started their dynasty in the 1984 version against the top rated Nebraska Cornhuskers. In 1988, Miami beat the Oklahoma Sooners in the Orange Bowl for the 1987 national title. In 1992, Miami beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers again for the 1991 title and their second undefeated season in modern program history.
Since then, Miami let Nebraska back into the 1995 Orange Bowl game to beat the ‘Canes in an upset. Then Miami beat FSU in a re-match in 2003 16-14. Miami has struggled in bowl games over the past decade or so, losing to Cal, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Louisville, South Carolina, and Washington State before beating West Virginia in 2016.
Wisconsin came into the Orange Bowl with the top rated defense and proved why by intercepting Malik Rosier three times and holding Miami to ten points from the second quarter on. Here are a few plays from the game that are just a microcosm of the season.
Miami Defending the Run
Wisconsin is a run oriented football program since the 1980’s. On 1st and 10, you can expect the Badgers to run the football. Miami goes with a tackle-nose twist, which means the tackle and nose switch after the snap. That’s a slow maneuver that won’t allow the defensive line to attack up field against the run. It shows here as RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton are useless on the play. The defensive end is easily blocked by the left tackle and h-back. The linebacker walks right into the play, and doesn’t make a stop. The safety doesn’t fill the alley, so Taylor runs for a first down and luckily fumbles.
Issues are plenty. Norton not only has to twist with his 300+ pound body, but then he pursues the running back three yards deep instead of at one which creates a bad angle. He’s stuck chasing a running back that ran for 1800 yards as a true freshman. The DE takes on the double team leaving the linebacker to that side to come downhill. But that linebacker doesn’t shoot the hips for the tackle, he freezes and is useless standing there.
Miami needs to work on pursuit and tackling this off-season.
Miami Screen Interception
Malik Rosier has made some gutsy plays but has also proven his ability to read a defense is limited. He has two reads here; the tunnel on the top of the screen and the running back in the flat on the bottom. This play is normally designed where if the tunnel is either covered or if the defensive end is in the QB’s sight line, he flips and throws to the back in the flat.
If Rosier sees that D-End and flips, the back is open and gets a first down and possibly scores. Hell, if the RB is covered throw it away or scramble for 2-3 yards. Instead it’s an interception that sets up a score and a momentum swing that never swung back.
Miami’s Bad Cornerback Play
Miami defensive back play has been hit or miss all season. They look lost against a quarterback that threw 15 picks on 300 throws, that’s 5th in FBS on 100-200 less throws than anyone else on that list. Dee Delaney transferred in with NFL Draft hype but that’s all but gone now. He wasn’t strong in the run game, he has limited ball skills, and his vertical leap has to be improved as he can’t get his hands near the football and doesn’t have a clue where it is.
Sheldrick Redwine isn’t a corner, but damn man, just turn around and play the ball. He has no idea where to place his body or how to flip his hips on a football that’s in the air. The Badgers start picking on Miami’s defensive backs that have made a Pitt freshman and Logan Woodside look like future NFL starters this season.
There is obviously work to be done to get Miami into a College Football Playoff contender. If the juniors stay and get better rather than cut and run like in the past, Miami can compete with good coaching and an increased playbook depth on offense. On defense, there needs to be a bigger focus on fundamentals and playing sound football.