Miami heads north to face the FSU Seminoles on Saturday, November 2nd. The game is a 3:30pm kick off and will air on ABC. Outside of the 4-4 records both teams share this has the flashback vibe to a Keith Jackson broadcast from the early 90’s. It’s a midseason game, on ABC, at 3:30 eastern with bragging rights and recruiting wins on the line. Don’t count this game out, sure it might be a 24-20 snooze-fest compared to other big time games but it still matters for now.
Bill Connelly has put out the new SP+ ratings and the Miami Hurricanes are 30th in FBS. The ‘Canes offense is 71st while the defense is 15th and the kicking game is 83rd. The Florida State Seminoles are 47th in the country. The ‘Noles are 46th on offense, 62nd on defense, and 108th in the kicking game.
The ‘Canes are 103rd in points per play while FSU is 63rd. Miami is going to have to create turnovers and havoc stats in order to slow the FSU offense down.
The ‘Noles defense held Syracuse to 17 points, and quarterback Tommy DeVito to 4.6 yards per passing attempt. DeVito has struggled in 2019 but that’s still quite good for an improving FSU defensive squad. Since Jim Leavitt has arrived as an “advisor” the ‘Noles have started to turn their defense around. On the flip side Cam Akers ran for 7.2 yards per carry and four touchdowns and Alex Hornibrook averaged 7.5 yards per attempt through the air.
On defense, FSU came away with 7 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Both of those stats are Leavitt-heavy influences as he loves to take big risks with big reward potential. His defenses looked like that at USF, Colorado, and Oregon and at all stops he improved their defensive output before being fired, walking away in a strange fashion, or taking a better job.
Cam Akers deserves better. The young Seminoles running back has been plagued by a bad offensive line and an inept passing game since his arrival in Tallahassee, FL. If you watch FSU play, it’s all Akers as the blocking scheme is blown up and he makes chicken salad from, well, you know... expect him to attempt his best Dalvin Cook or Warrick Dunn type of game on Saturday.
Directly below, Akers takes a stretch play that’s horribly blocked by the front side of the FSU offensive line. Akers cuts back against the grain and creates a long touchdown run out of absolutely nothing. For most backs this is a 2-3 yard loss, but he’s able to use his jump cut and leg drive to turn it into much more.
Below, Akers once again should be stopped for a 3-4 yard loss but scores against the Orange. Here you can see immediate penetration but as the defender swipes at his foot, Akers keeps his legs moving and drags a defender into the end zone. This isn’t good offensive line play or even play calling or execution- it’s all Akers on the ground.
Again, stats can be misleading in regards to offensive efficiency. Especially regarding this FSU running game. Here, power is called and the inside (where power goes, just inside the kick out block on the defensive end) is clogged up. Akers goes against the rules of power and bounces outside. He outruns a Syracuse defender and with a great perimeter block gets into the end zone.
Willie Taggart has employed a 3-4 pressure heavy defense for years. It’s no different at FSU where the ‘Noles are getting better and better now that Leavitt is around. In the screenshot above it’s 4th and 3 and FSU brings the heat. They don’t sit back and try to play soft or prevent. That’s seven man pressure (in the GIF below) and man coverage over the top of it.
When the tight end and back stay in to block that allows the safety to come down and fill they alley on DeVito’s attempted scramble. Miami is going to have to find ways to either get the ball out sooner, or pass protect. I have a feeling the former will have to be the answer because the latter isn’t happening for another year or two. Young linemen like Zion Nelson need time to develop and guys with limited playing experience like Corey Gaynor should be improved in 2020.
Getting the ball out sooner
So how can the ‘Canes mask the offensive line from their weaknesses and get the ball out sooner? It’s the R4 model in your play creation, practice model, and quarterback reads. I’ve talked to you about the R4 model before but for new readers it’s the creation of Dub Maddox. It stands for Rhythm, Read, Rush, Release.
Rhythm route will be at the bottom of the drop. In other words a nice 3-step drop could have a rhythm fade route attached to it.
Read routes will take place after the QB hitches up at the back of his drop. In the GIF above that’s the high-low on the flat defender with the Flood concept. The 10 yard “sail” or out and the 3-yard “slide” or arrow.
The Rush route is to the running back on the swing back side. If there’s immediate pressure the QB has to trust that he can throw over to the back and the back has to know the first guy is his job to make him miss the tackle.
Often during film reviews on SOTU, or during games from my Twitter (@IMFB_Blog)- I will point out that the route combination didn’t have anyone looking for the ball or coming open at the back of the QB’s drop. There is no Rhythm route at all. At least not one that is visible or where the WR is looking for the football at the bottom of the drop around 2.6 seconds from the snap.
Above, we can look at the Stick concept. Many coaches including Mike Leach, Dana Holgorsen, and Art Briles (is it safe to mention Briles?). It’s a quick-throw concept that I personally love and use every game. The initial rhythm throw is the stick route to the H (per the image above). So if the linebacker blitzes or for whatever reason doesn’t drop- the H is the first throw.
The J is on the slide or speed out. If the linebacker covers the H the QB hitches (2.8 seconds) and throws the slide. If that’s covered his two other options are to throw to the running back on the swing, or to Release or take off running.
The “gift” is to the Z, and that’s a fade route. Let’s say the CB is a weak defender and he’s pressed with inside leverage. The QB will take that deep shot against him because the WR is “unCAPped.” CAP means Coverage, Alignment, and Personnel. The QB likes all three against a weak cornerback who is inside leverage and pressed up against a fade route.
In order for Miami to have success behind a weak offensive line, they need more quick throw concepts like Flood, Stick, Rub (above) or Stop (below) and not four verticals that are locked in as actual deep routes or the slow developing play-action passes from under center.
It’s hard to make a prediction with how Miami is playing. Against Pitt I didn’t think Pitt would succumb to the Northwestern or Iowa Big Ten style football Miami is playing, but they did. Miami squashed the game into a 16-12 slog-fest won on being the team that didn’t need to settle for field goals. However, Kendal Briles will have his trick plays and RPO’s ready to pick on the ‘Canes and Jim Leavitt is another week entrenched as the silent DC.
Miami on the other hand is fumbling around with a starting QB choice, hoping Deejay Dallas is healthy, and trying to find a way to slow down Akers after giving up 13.5 and 4.2 yards per carry to much lesser talent.
Prediction: FSU by 1.