Every football program I have ever been around (and that’s 17 years as a high school coach, plus time as a slappy) has been personified by this statement: your program is a mirror of the head coach’s personality. The Miami program is currently big on flash, low on substance. Yachts, keggers, fancy rings and chains. On the other side, after the pawn shops, repo men, and rental agreements end, are walk-on linebackers getting major snaps (yes, that’s the position Manny Diaz was recruiting himself as linebacker coach the previous three seasons), giving up touchdowns to hefty punters, and missed field goals.
The quarterback situation has plummeted as of late. A horrible showing against Virginia Tech, then mediocrity against Virginia and Georgia Tech. Whoever is “the guy” behind center will have to take a few deep shots while managing the game. The further Miami gets away from the Bethune-Cookman stat padding the lower yards per passing attempt and yards per carry averages dip. On offense, the ‘Canes are 70th in yards per play, 95th in points per play, and 39th in points per game allowed.
Manny Diaz had never referred to this season as a rebuild, until he was 1-3 in the ACC and losing to the second or third worst team in power five football (Rutgers is easily the worst). This Yellow Jackets team lost to the Citadel in overtime only a few weeks ago. Miami hasn’t improved week to week, like Georgia Tech has, they’ve slowly gotten worse. It’s a direct reflection of their head coach who opted for excuses over accountability when it came to Jarren Williams (from the Sun-Sentinel) and now the State Of The U.
“The first thing is, basically, I grade the guys on either you played well enough for us to win or you didn’t,” Enos said. “And he did not. He did not play well enough for us to win the football game. That’s first and foremost.
When it comes to scheme, the offense isn’t working. The Miami offense was once again in struggle-mode on 3rd down. The ‘Canes converted only 5-of-13 on third down and were 0-for-1 on fourth down. The Hurricanes lost a fumble, didn’t throw an interceptions, and finally limited the penalties to four for 25 yards. The weak offensive line issues aside, obviously Miami could run the ball against a smaller Tech defensive front but opted to “stay balanced” over using those multiple tight end sets and grinding out the game against the Jackets.
On defense, there were only three sacks and three hurries against an offensive line deemed the worst in FBS football by many accounts, and that was before the starting center went down. Miami gave up 141 yards (7.1 yards per carry) to running back Jordan Mason against that offensive line. Then there was this on special teams:
Miami failed to come away with turnovers against a bad quarterback and looked putrid in the kicking game outside of KJ Osborn’s performance on punt returns and Louis Hedley’s punting. Keep in mind those are two guys who came in from other programs and worlds that took the time to develop them- not “Manny’s guys,” but getting them to decide on Miami was a great move by whomever contacted Osborn and Hedley.
On 4th and 4 in overtime there was also the mysterious case of throwing a three and a half yard route while needing four yards. A lot of that is on teaching- did you teach your players to adjust their routes in order to be clearly across a pivotal line in order to win? Do you work on altering routes to space and situation in practice and game-like practice situations?
I’m very curious to see if Manny Diaz continues to struggle in recruiting, especially linebackers, and if he continues to pull in the amount of lost souls from the transfer portal. Making Miami into Last Chance The U could back fire greatly. When you’re winning you can do anything, but it’s keeping your locker room together when you have guys who were kicked out of their programs (and we know that takes quite a lot in college football), allowed to freely transfer without question, or were disgruntled at their last school.
Coach Diaz had quite the ego about how if he was the head coach he could fix the offense, the team would be rolling, that Florida State should be disrespected, and I’m assuming (no inside knowledge) that these character issue players like Jeff Thomas, Trevon Hill, and Bubba Bolden wouldn’t cause him issues in his new locker room. Thomas has been suspended, again, and some reports said Hill wasn’t respectful after the loss.
Manny’s biggest issue will be holding this locker room together as guys start to “get theirs” as opposed to “build ours.” The crux of signing a ton of free agents in a team sport. You feel you need talent to win but their potential may also be what gets you fired (to paraphrase Hal Mumme). Remember the Pinstripe Bowl? That could be the rest of the season if Diaz continues to ride with the status quo.
Did Diaz acquire the right coaches to build his new staff? Did he acquire the right players as the defensive coordinator and as the head coach? Have the players been developed over the past three and a half years? Are they being deployed for the greatest possibility of success? I would beg you to look at the performance of the three linebackers Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, and Zach McCloud and you can answer that.
This was not a rebuild. I have explained many times you can’t be in year zero when you were on campus already, in a massive role such as defensive coordinator. You knew the administration, the strengths-weaknesses-opportunities and threats, the recruiting ground, the current roster and the cultural weaknesses that led to Mark Richt retiring. This was year one and it’s been a bad year one so far.