The Hurricanes defense stepped up and looked like the ‘Canes defenses of old. Miami gave up a measly 12 points, intercepted Kenny Pickett twice, recovered a fumble and logged four sacks and seven tackles for loss (not to mention about 10 uncalled holding penalties on Pitt). Sure, the Panthers have a bottom 100 offense per SP+ but Blake Baker (or Manny Diaz or both...) you went to Pitt...
Getting pressure on a quarterback, especially a mediocre one, is vital. It can lead to errant throws, sacks, and even better- turnovers. DJ Ivey had a game to redeem himself with two interceptions and I’m proud of the young man for not letting the outside world get to him. He stayed focused on getting better and that’s what counts.
But that’s a two way street. Pitt’s defensive line pushes the Miami offensive line back into Perry. This pressure causes Perry to short arm his follow through. Because of that, the ball floats and winds up intercepted. Look at this throwing comparison below. Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback in the history of the NFL, and N’Kosi Perry have similar throwing motions. But when Perry gets that push back from the line in his face he can’t finish across his body like Brady in the image.
The way I’ve always taught the mechanics is to finish feet square, belt buckle pointing at the target, and with your throwing arm putting a dollar in your opposite pocket. Perry can’t put the dollar away, and that causes his ball to float on a rainy afternoon.
Offensive Line Technique
If you’re ever wondering how an offensive tackle can get beaten on a speed rush, this is how. In the image above, look at how close together Zion Nelson’s feet are to each other. On top of that his chest is leaning over his feet and his arms are down. The Pitt defensive end can now have his way with Nelson. He can easily out run him, he could run through him, or slap, dip and rip inside of him.
I have no idea why Cam Harris didn’t help Nelson, knowing full well that he’s facing a speed rush and needed the extra help. Nelson has been the FBS’ most sack-prone tackle, the running back should chip that end with him. Technique-wise, Nelson is now stuck leaning on the end who can dip under him (like he did) and run right by him. Nelson’s feet cross over each other and he’s stuck lunging and leaning.
The proper technique for Mr. Nelson is to drive off his right quad and in-step, to catch on his left leg with balance. His chest should be up and his shoulders should be back. The weight should be evenly distributed and his hips coiled and low. His hands should be up ready to strike. After one drive-catch, he’ll feel that speed rush. His pass protection rule is to keep his left knee in the crotch of the rusher.
Once the speed rush happens, Nelson has to open his hips but keep that left knee in the crotch of the rusher. That way if the end wants to come back inside it’s much harder for him because half of the tackle’s body is in the way. It’s a simple mirror drill, keeping your feet shoulder width apart, hips low, hands up. Your job as a tackle is to strike the end with three hard, fast jabs to slow him down. If he comes back inside the tackle will fit the rusher up and drive him inside. I know it’s a guard but watch Quenton Nelson from the Colts stop an outside-in rush. He becomes a run blocker and drives the defender into other players knocking him off balance.
Pitt ran for 172 yards and 4.2 yards per carry (sacks included)
Pitt has already shown run, their guards are pulling and two of Miami’s linebackers haven’t moved an inch. Ryan Ragone, the walk-on who played against Georgia Tech, is the only one who takes a read step but he reads the play wrong. If he’s reading linemen the ball is obviously going away from him, if he’s reading near back it’s going away, too. It look like Trajan Bandy isn’t doing a whole lot to set the ege by being 12 yards off the line of scrimmage with no receiver to his side. He should be set up about 5 yards off the line to stop anyone from bouncing outside.
As you can see above, Shaq Quarterman is slow to react and his first step is completely off-balance. He’s nearly tripping over himself. The Pitt lineman is already gaining ground on him because Quarterman was three steps late to read the play. Pitt has Miami out blocked at the point of attack and the safety isn’t coming down to fill the alley.
3rd Level RPO
Dan Enos comes up with a great call here. For all of the tosses and sweeps into the boundary against a 4-2-5 defense that likes to spill plays to the 12th man aka the sideline- this one is a gem. It’s a 3rd level RPO. Jarren Williams is reading the safety, however, in a 1-high safety look (above) with no safety to KJ Osborn’s side, it’s basically an auto throw.
I put a read “space” in the image above, if no one enters that space (the one safety doesn’t sprint there, or the linebacker doesn’t sprint there) then throw the ball. Williams has to trust his receiver to win the one-on-one against the cornerback and he does.
We all want more from the Miami offense. The ‘Canes can’t expect to compete in the Coastal with passing yards per attempt averages of 4.3 and 6.3. They also can’t expect to compete with a running back who only runs for 3.8 yards per carry like Harris did on Saturday. Miami will have to do better. Pitt plays ugly games, that’s what they do, but will Louisville, Florida State, and Duke? I’m not sure.
The Coastal is wide open and Miami’s defense has held bad offenses to low points per game totals. Pitt, UVA, and Georgia Tech had the 110th, 111th, and 95th ranked offenses per SP+. Duke has the 88th, Louisville the 31st (and Scott Satterfield knows how to play Manny Diaz’s defense from his time at App State), and FSU’s is 42nd. Miami is going to have to put up points against all three of these teams in order to win.