Maybe this is a little too “story time” but I feel like it’s important to mention in regards to how I reviewed the performance of our beloved Miami Hurricanes on Saturday..
It was about 12:20 Saturday afternoon so I turned off my picture and picture of Maryland @ Texas and “A Bridge Too Far” to solely watch the Miami and Bethune-Cookman contest. I turned on my “guide” on the cable box, selected the “subscribed channels” feature and scrolled through my sports package to find the contest. There was Cal @ UNC.. The Texas game again… Clemson pummeling a rando… No Miami..
Okay, lets try Apple TV.. Turned on the box, ESPN APP, picked my cable provider, put in the passcode… “Game Subject to Blackout.”
I had to “watch” (follow?) the first game of the Canes season via box score refreshes on my smart phone. Great way to start the 2017 season!
However, it gave me an… interesting perspective on the game. Watching the passing totals load in play by play I was becoming more lock step with Cane Nation that Malik Rosier may not be the answer at QB, too many check downs and incompletions. His completion percentage, per the box score, was too low to run the Richt playbook against a higher caliber opponent. The defense? Well, they couldn’t get off the field on third and fourth down stops, that’s just what the stats showed and I had to go with it.
Monday rolled around and then I got to “rewatch” the game as someone (see below) had posted the entire game on YouTube. Tip of the cap to you, sir. After watching all of the first, second and third quarters I came away with a slightly different perspective on the game so let’s get to those points and then my final thoughts:
Since this is specifically for the offensive line I’ll stay with that grouping. To me, they were pretty sub par for the contest. Way too many penalties that were of all random varieties. Chop block outside the free blocking zone? A GODDAMN SNAP INFRACTION? Really? This isn’t high school freshman ball. Those are literally lower classmen freshman mistakes that have to get fixed and shouldn’t be seen at a division one level. I find it hard to believe that Nick Linder, if healthy, couldn’t beat out Gauthier…
Besides penalties, Rosier and Perry (if he assumes the starter role) is going to bail this unit out of potential sacks with their mobility. On the one play where Rosier gained about 4 yards instead of taking a sack is a case in point. Kaaya could have never wiggled out of that situations pocket collapsing to make a positive play. We have that to look forward to at least..
Walton was Walton against Bethune. He had a few long gains and got his touchdowns. I saw what I needed to see out of him which was high production on relatively a low amount of touches. Homer on the other hand was a pleasant surprise. He played like a less refined Walton, maybe a little more wild in his running and cutting but overall he played well. As the announcer pointed out though during the game, I do worry about him getting injured. You can lower your head to ward off a tackler, I get it. Putting your spine parallel to the ground with your head leaning forward? You’re asking for a potentially catastrophic injury there.
What I like about college football is the high turnover from year to year; the ability to potentially bring in better players. I have to say though, I think this group of receivers, based off this game anyways, is not as talented as compared to last year’s squad. The group as a whole may be faster with Harley and Thomas in the fold but in Game 1 I just didn’t see it.
Everyone wanted Miami to handily beat Bethune-Cookman 50+ to 7. The reason the Canes offense didn’t do so was the fact that they didn’t have burners that could get down field, get behind the secondary and catch and run with a pass for the end zone. Last year we had Coley, Richards and even Malcolm Lewis that were lethal in space. Currently Cager, who’s coming off the leg injury and Langham simply don’t offer that speed package. Were they giants among the BCC secondary? Oh absolutely but they seemingly couldn’t run away from anyone. Jump ball and slant routes are all well and good. Quick strikes though are what made Mark Richt’s offense hum last year and I think will be needed this year if Miami is to eclipse 10+ wins and after one game, I don’t see that ability.
Oh, yes I know Richards sat. Just saying off one game, what I saw, I don’t see the ability.
I leave the best for last when it comes to the offense. Probably the most controversial “hot take” I have as well.
After watching the first three quarters, I’m fine with Malik Rosier as the quarterback. Yes, when I was watching “the box score” he looked terrible but replaying the game visually for the first half, I really didn’t have a problem with how he played. If there’s someone out there who could break down each of his passing plays it’d be much appreciated but from what I remember he was around, what, 10-20 at half? I counted at least 4-6 drop balls in that span. Not badly thrown balls either. Yes, he did miss a few passes when he was rolling out but overall I thought he played well. The fact of the matter was the receivers in the game didn’t make his job easy.
Langham and Cager were taller than their opponents and caught the jump ball style passes at a decent rate but the separation they were making against the inferior players was next to nothing. To have a big play down field and to score they need to break away from the defender. I harp this point because it only gets harder as the season progresses.
Herndon missed a catch over the middle in the first half that would have gone for a big gain… Irvin II got a catch or two and blocked. Besides that I didn’t really notice the impact of those two.
A lot of pundits I saw after the game pointed out Miami only had 3 or so sacks for the entirety of the game and got discouraged. Did you watch the game? BCC was taking three step drops and getting the ball out of their quarterback’s hands. I remember watching the box score and the BCC QB was around 10-11 (11-11?) to start the game and I was fuming mad. Once I watched the game? Meh.. He was throwing screens mostly. High percentage passes that lead to quick catches mean the defensive line can’t get up field in passing situations. We’ll have to monitor the sack totals and tackles for losses as the season progresses. I’m not worried yet.
What I am worried about however is the run defense. I don’t know if it was a lack of scouting or just bad luck but the defensive line slants seemed to mostly be away from the ball carrier which led to the big gains. I remember in the first quarter Chad Thomas was lined up as a defensive end and broke up field to get after the quarterback on a wide angle. The quarterback handed off the ball to the running back and he went into the void Thomas had just vacated. That type of situation happened a lot Saturday and it hopefully will be lessened going forward. Those type of situations lead to big run lanes.
Ugh… Just ugh.. I saw flashes of big play ability, namely by Shaq Quarterman. I also saw opportunities for big plays in the backfield (Owens and his “almost sack”) but overall I thought the group as a whole was very non-descript. Almost managing the game but no real game breaking plays in the passing game or behind the line of scrimmage in the running game.
Similar to the wide receiver group, it’s interesting to see the turnover from year to year and how it impacts a team. The last two or three years Miami’s secondary has been stacked with talent. Not just good college starters either, guys that play on Sunday’s as well. This season we’re seeing a complete reboot though. Dee Delaney, the player everyone was hoping would be the stop gap player for this year as a starting cornerback looked very average and downright beatable on multiple snaps. I remember at one point in the first quarter BCC threw at him four or five times in a row because he seemed to be the weak link. Their wide receiver got so tired from being thrown to he had to take a breather on the sideline!
On the other side Malek Young played well enough (#turnoverchain) and even the young freshman Trajan Bandy almost had his first pick of his career but I am worried about the effectiveness of the entirety of the secondary moving forward.
I remember seeing on twitter people freaking out about the coverage unit on BCC kickoffs but when I reviewed the game I didn’t see anything to be warranted of such criticisms. Badgely tackled the runner at the BCC 25. Great hustle by Jersey Mike, not anything to worry about for the unit in my opinion.
Feagles 2.0 is a large kid who can boom the ball.
Coaching and Gameplan
As a whole I thought the offensive game plan was fine. Richt was working with what he has on hand which was slow, plodding receivers on the outside and freshmen in the slots. Against BCC at least, it was very much a thorough, methodical style of drives down the field through the passing attack. Hence why the score was so low. Miami had two punts the entire game and scored on the other drives. The drives just weren’t fast attacks that left more time of possession to get back on the field again and score.
Now, the defense.. Oh buddy.. I had lots of problems with what I saw.. I’ll start out with my opinion of what they tried to get accomplished..
I’d like to think Manny Diaz was playing extremely vanilla. Like.. you open up a gallon bucket of ice cream and the flavor reads as “vanilla” but tastes more like cardboard. The reason I hope this is the case is because I didn’t see many adjustments if any at all during the game. Miami lined up in 4/3 alignments with defensive lineman and linebackers and then a ¾ over where a linebacker was on the end of the line of scrimmage. The secondary was primarily playing zone the entire game.
BCC lined up with four wide receivers? Move McCloud or Pinckney out there (literally was having flashbacks to D’Onofrio) and play zones in the flat. Screen plays to the flanker wide out with the slot blocking? Have the safety shadow 10-15 yards off the line in a zone.
The defense did not work and was unacceptable, period. If BCC could rack up yardage in this method pretty easily, future opponents will too. I’d like to think that Manny played very vanilla and didn’t want to show his hand for the season. That’s my hope.
One last thought
This stuck out to me and it kind of piggy backs off the defensive alignment and execution.. The defense as a whole just looked… Slow.. I know BCC was running 4 wide out sets and Miami was in base defensive packages but still.. BCC mainly threw sideline to sideline within about 5-10 yards of the line of scrimmage and they beat Miami to the corner. This can’t happen moving forward if Miami is going to be successful, it simply can’t.
What do you guys think of the above? Am I off? Leave a note below!