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Film Preview: Miami at Pitt, 10/26

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The ‘Canes are underdogs heading to Heinz Field

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 18 Pitt at Syracuse Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Pat Narduzzi and Kenny Pickett derailed Miami’s hopes of a College Football Playoff birth back in 2017. I was up at Frankenmuth in Michigan, in a brewery, and watching the ‘Canes undefeated season come to a disappointing halt. Coach Narduzzi’s defense smothered Miami’s run game and forced Malik Rosier to win the football game with his arm. Rosier answered with 5.5 yards per attempt and Travis Homer ran for 1.7 yards per carry.

In 2019, the Hurricanes season is already in the dumpster. It’s not just in the dumpster, it’s a dumpster fire. Manny Diaz has started off his head coaching career in a bad spot. He’s had to make and then back pedal away from his “rebuild” claim that wasn’t made until week 8. Before that it was all false bravado about his coaching chops with little jabs about his former boss Mark Richt and his offense.

I’m sure he’s regretting those jabs, and maybe even not cutting his teeth up at Temple where the Owls are currently 5-2. It would have been a good ‘starter job’ to allow Coach Diaz to prove himself. Now he’s getting on the job training at an ACC alleged powerhouse.

The ‘Canes are ranked 31st per the SP+ with the 57th offense, 20th defense, and 99th rated kicking game. The Pitt Panthers are 52nd per the SP+ with the 110th offense, 15th ranked defense, and 94th rated kicking game. So what can we expect? Probably a 10-7 ball game with a ton of kicking woes.

What do you want to see as a Hurricanes fan? A football program that has more fire and desire than what they showed against Georgia Tech during week 8 on their home turf. This really is a make-or-break game for Diaz’s staff as they prove if bringing in a Major League style crew of castoffs was a roster maker or locker room breaker. A few of the cancers are already talking up and either have been suspended or are threatening a walk on the portal side.


Miami v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Trick plays

This really shouldn’t scare me but you know exactly why it does. After Georgia Tech’s chubby punter hit the second longest throw of the season at Hard Rock there’s need for concern. Will Manny Diaz’s hand picked defensive coordinator, Blake Baker, have his defensive backs prepared for trick plays? Will they care enough to cover them?

This is less of a film breakdown play than a: here it is, are you going to actually step up, play smart football, and stop this stuff?!


Wildcat with Dallas

IF (and so far there’s no report) Deejay Dallas is healthy, take a look at how the wildcat might work to slow down the Pitt defense. Syracuse runs a form of it with a less mobile quarterback than Dallas this past week. Mike Harley would be a great option as the jet sweep give on the play so he can get a chance to flash his speed.

If the Orange had to give this on the sweep, I think the runner is tackled for a loss. They skipped the over hang in their blocking scheme and should have pinned him down and allowed the runner to make a decision on how to cut out or inside.

But the play works because it’s a pull-read and the quarterback can get a huge chunk of yards. Miami has ran the wildcat well with Dallas at times but abandons it even when it’s working- which makes little sense.


Virginia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Holding the ball

Is Jarren Williams the starter? Is N’Kosi Perry? Am I? I’m not sure if Manny Diaz even knows at this point. If Miami can’t get that right I’m worried that this season could keep pouring gas on the dumpster fire it already is. The scary part about Williams is how long he holds onto the football. Perry has weaknesses but at least he’ll take off and run rather than take big sacks.

Pitt tore apart the Syracuse offensive line for the tune of nine sacks, 12 tackles for loss and six hurries on the season. Zion Nelson and the fellas on the offensive line had better hold on tight because Coach Narduzzi isn’t going to call off the dogs when he knows how bad the line is and how poor the quarterbacks are at reading defenses and making split second decisions.

I think Dan Enos has been toning down the amount of “and long” play-action passes that he’s calling and that’s a positive step in the direction of keeping Perry and Williams upright and alive for the duration of the season.


Georgia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Pass Rush

Kenny Pickett isn’t exactly putting up Dan Marino numbers at Pitt. His yards per attempt is sitting around 6.2 on the season and 6.4 over his career. Pickett has thrown eight touchdowns and four interceptions, but has completed 59.9% of his passes.

Miami is going to have to get pressure on Pickett with how poor the coverage has been from the defensive backs and Miami’s propensity to give up rushing yards when they do shut down the pass. It’s the Manny Diaz defense, stop the pass means giving up 300 rushing yards and vice versa.

This will be a redemption game for Miami’s defensive line after giving up over 100 rushing yards to Georgia Tech and not manhandling the Jackets really bad offensive line when it comes to the pass rush.


Virginia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Prediction

I hate to say this but I think Manny Diaz has lost confidence in himself, and has lost his locker room. I’m going off of pure coach gut instinct on that one. I’ve heard minimal rumors. It’s just about what I saw on the field, the inklings I’ve deciphered from his press conferences, and how those who are inside feel.

Prediction: Pitt by 2