The 2018 New Era Pinstripe Bowl was a complete dud of a game. The Wisconsin Badgers easily should’ve won the contest 45-3 if not by more, but failed to convert on two easy field goals and had a touchdown called back. Miami answered a lot of questions by coming out completely flat on both sides of the ball outside of a few players looking to bolster their draft status.
Jaquan Johnson was probably the biggest winner of the Pinstripe Bowl when it comes down to draft status. Johnson came away with an interception and 13 tackles from his safety position. The NFL will find a use for someone versatile and with his work ethic. Johnson didn’t stop playing hard even when the Badgers started to pull away. Michael Pinckney looked improved and that could help his draft status, if he chooses to leave early.
Press man or what?
Miami has had coverage confusion since Manny Diaz arrived as defensive coordinator for the 2016 season. It was something I pointed out in the off-season before the Richt era truly began. I wrote about his high risk / high reward style, the basics of his attacking even front scheme, and wrapped up the defense after the 2016 season.
Just look at the screenshot above. Two cornerbacks are jamming or colliding with the wide receivers while Jhavonte Dean is playing press man with a cushion. The fact that he has no cushion in space but doesn’t jam leads to the Badgers early touchdown reception.
I had flashbacks to Alex Hornibrook playing Dr. Nick (or Dr. Bo, for an ancient Solid Verbal reference) in the 2017 Orange Bowl. Jack Coan didn’t carve Miami’s secondary up, but he really didn’t need to. The Badgers were able to run a small handful of plays, such as split zone lead, and destroy Miami’s defense.
When you play press but don’t jam the receiver, this (above) is what happens. The receiver has the spacing to manipulate the defender. It doesn’t help that in practice Miami cornerbacks don’t see a complex amount of routes or concepts that they need to defend. All of their option route and spacing work comes in scout or real game experiences, not in a competitive format in practice.
Hold your gap
For all defensive linemen, but especially defensive tackles on the interior, the goal is to “hold your gap” or not give up the gap to which you’ve been assigned. If the defensive lineman loses his gap, the running lane will be evident. Pat Bethel, Nesta Silvera (just a freshman) and Tito Odenigbo played some of the worst interior line play I have seen in years. Below, Wisconsin is running split zone.
Split zone means the line is blocking left in a zone scheme, the h-back is coming across the formation to kick out the defensive end, and the running back is reading off of the left guard. If the guard wins his block, he stays to the left. If the guard loses, he cuts back to the crease made by the kick out block of the h-back on the defensive end.
The Miami defensive tackles don’t hold their gap. In fact, all of this talk about the strength and conditioning program has left a lot to be desired. Wisconsin bullied Miami’s defensive linemen all game. Once Joe Jackson was out, Scott Patchan looked like a high school power forward by comparison and Miami’s ability to put good weight on their players is evident. Players are either Patchan skinny or can’t find a 4XL pant to fit their body into.
Oh, but let’s not stop at the defensive tackles. Shaquille Quarterman can’t expect to not be ripped apart for his loaf on a red zone running down. I can’t tell if Shaq is confused (I’ve been pointing out how lost the Miami linebackers are on reads for years) or if he’s just avoiding contact entirely. If he’s blitzing, he’s fine. The minute he’s asked to make a read it’s whatever you want to call this effort.
Later in the red zone:
More weird linebacker reads
Everything you’re ever taught as a linebacker is to stay parallel to the line of scrimmage and to “slow play” or scrape to the football. A linebacker’s shoulders shouldn’t turn perpendicular to the line of scrimmage until he’s 100% sure that’s where the football is going. Once your body is fully turned, it’s almost impossible to turn back on a cutback, or some kind of bootleg (we see this on the Coan touchdown run).
Above, look at Quarterman’s first step- it’s completely flat and his shoulders are 100% turned to the sideline. The issue for Shaq is that Michael Pinckney is already in the gap he’s running to, so Shaq is vacating a gap backside to put two butts in one gap. It doesn’t help that Nesta Silvera is being manhandled by a perfect Wisconsin combo block.
I’m not entirely sure why Mark Richt is insistent that his offense can only deploy run-pass options during a “tempo” period but that seems to be the case. Here, Malik Rosier obviously sees the flat defender steps inside and chooses to handoff against the Badgers rather than throw the football out to the bubble to at least start to expand the Wisconsin defense.
We saw what running the same few inside zone read plays will get you; it’s 1.6 yards per carry from Travis Homer, 2.0 yards per carry from Deejay Dallas, and Cam’Ron Davis lost yards. Malik Rosier and N’Kosi Perry combined for seven runs (sacks are included in college quarterback rushing statistics) for 101 yards. That’s a great stat, however, those three carries from Rosier amassed one field goal.
In the passing game I’m confused as to how many times per season the supposed “unbroken” scheme placed two receivers in the same space- which caused interceptions time and time again. There wasn’t much to show offensively, obviously, but the Hurricanes are in desperate need of an answer on offense.
A poor showing like this put previous coaches such as Al Golden (Louisville 2013) and Larry Coker (2005 Peach Bowl) on the hot seat before a complete meltdown game resulted in their demise. I will dig deeper into this over the next few months but Mark Richt’s seat should be very, very hot after the Pinstripe Bowl disaster.