The FIU Golden Panthers travel a few minutes to take on the Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock on September 22nd at 3:30pm on ESPN2. Miami is a massive favorite heading into this matchup, as Odds Shark has Miami sitting as a 27 point favorite as betting lines open for the game.
The S&P+ has Miami at 24th in the country while FIU is the 83rd best program in FBS. FIU is one of the few programs in the country with worse special teams efficiency than Miami as the ‘Canes sit at 116th and the Panthers are 128th. The 2-1 Golden Panthers are 102nd in defensive S&P+ an alleged strength of Coach Davis.
FIU’s defense has only logged three sacks and a single interception through three games, while Miami’s defense is down on sacks and interceptions with five and two, respectively. Miami should easily squash the FIU offense but will Manny Diaz appropriately handle the run-pass option? Can Miami’s cornerbacks run man-to-man against... anyone right now?
For all of the clamoring about Miami should’ve hired Butch Davis and the complaints about the ‘Canes offense- Coach Davis scheme looks mighty familiar to Coach Richt’s. Against UMass, FIU ran a lot of inside zone read and was able to move the football.
Here working around midfield the Panthers are in an 11 personnel (1 running back, 1 tight end) grouping and a 2x2 formation (WR/TE to one side, WR/WR to the other). The zone lead play is going to the left and there’s a “gift” to the right which is a stalk-bubble combination as part of the RPO.
UMass looks like they’ve never seen an RPO and FIU scores on a 40 yard bubble screen. I’m routinely amazed at teams not playing 2-read to the 2 wide receiver side. Please listen to the color commentary on this game via the Stadium highlights and hear how wrong the announcer is about not only the play, but who should be responsible for covering it (cued up for you)
I decided to make a series of screenshots into a video to explain 2 read coverage a little better. I’m a huge proponent of 2 read (or quarters or whatever you wanna call it).
UMass sits back in spot drop cover 4 to the twins side, which means their CB and S will back pedal to a spot on the field versus read the routes and match coverage to the patterns. This allows the FIU outside receiver to easily block the corner, and the slot can catch and run because the safety backs up to 12 or so yards off the inside slot receiver.
In 2 read, the CB and S would be looking at the #2 or slot receiver. If the slot runs the bubble, the CB would run downhill and make the play. If the #2 runs a vertical route, the S would take him and the CB stays on #1. If they both run vertical it’s easy because the CB should already be dropping while reading #2 and both deep routes are picked up.
This eliminates the old issues in cover 2 where if both guys run deep the safety is stuck playing two deep routes, and it eliminates the old issues in cover 4 where no one can play the flat fast enough to stop an RPO.
FIU 4-3 Defense
Were you expecting Butch Davis to run something besides a 4-3 defense? Here, against a common Miami personnel grouping (11 personnel), Davis stays true to his 4-3 shell with 2 high safeties.
The linebackers take true drops and the SAM linebacker engages the tight end before running to the flat with him and intercepting this pass. The MIKE works his straight drop and picks up the running back. The CB will take #1, the S will take #2 and the front four is expected to get pressure on their own which they do.
The QB has no time to throw and every receiver is covered as the SAM returns this for a touchdown.
It’s going to be a hard look to run against a 7 man box (four DL, three LB) and it will be difficult to beat defensive backs that are dropping back in coverage deep- thus Malik Rosier will have to improve his accuracy and Miami will be forced by Davis into beating FIU with short throws and being patient with four yard runs.
Miami should handle the FIU Golden Panthers with ease. FIU doesn’t have the talent to matchup with the Hurricanes and that talent like Jeff Thomas, Deejay Dallas, and even Malik Rosier running the football should be too much for FIU.
Prediction: FIU 14 - Miami 42