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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Virginia Tech edition

Another loss to a bad and reeling team. Which makes Miami a worse and reeling team, I guess

Virginia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

As has become standard practice against Power 5 opponents, the Miami Hurricanes took another L, this time falling 42-35 to the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Following today’s embarrassing loss — to a team that just got blown out by 35 points at home last week, no less — Miami is now 4-12 in their last 16 games against P5 competition following the tenuous 10-0 start to the 2017 season.

Think of any P5 team in the country. This is worse than their record over the same time, with like 2 exceptions.

Yeah. It’s that bad.

Before I get into things, here’s the game recap by Gaby Urrutia

Here are the 3 stars from the game by John Michaels

And now, it’s my time. Let’s get into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Author’s Note: you might want to have your favorite adult beverage on hand to continue with this piece.

The Good

  • Yes, there was good today. The result wasn’t, but there were some performances to praise.
  • QB N’Kosi Perry. Playing in relief of starter Jarren Williams (we’ll get to him later), Perry showed his vast skill set time and again. The redshirt sophomore was 28/47 passing for a career-high 422 yards, 4 TDs, and 1 INT. It wasn’t perfect — he only completed 59.5% of his throws and was sacked 5 times — but Perry’s play helped bring Miami back from a 28-0 hole to tie the game late in the 4th quarter. And, his 422 yards passing were the most since Stephen Morris lit NC State on fire for a program-record 567 yards, so that qualifies as good whether we won or lost.
  • TE Brevin Jordan. The Perry-to-Jordan connection remained strong, with the sophomore Tight End setting a career high for yards in this game. Overall, Jordan had 7 catches for 136 yards and a TD, and was a mismatch all day long. I’ve long said Jordan is the best TE in America and this performance is another data point to support my argument on that point.
  • WR Jeff Thomas. WELCOME BACK TO THE SHOW, JT4!!!!! 6 catches, 124 yards, and 2 TDs — his first TDs receiving since last year’s FSU game — and a reintroduction to the hearts and minds of everyone. Thomas got loose in space and showed again why he’s a threat to score any time he touches the ball. And it was GOOD to see him back involved in the offense.
  • WR Mark Pope answering N’Kosi Perry’s prayer before halftime. That’s right kids, Miami scored on a hail mary to open the scoring on the last play before the half. I don’t have video of it, but it was cool. And, we scored on the play so that was good!
  • DE Gregory Rousseau. Only 2 tackles and a sack on the scoresheet, but it seemed like every time Rousseau was on the field, he was making plays and impacting the game. Which is why, yet again, I say he needs to play more.
  • LB Michael Pinckney. Look, I know 56 missed a couple tackles, but he also led Miami with 11 tackles and 3 TFLs on the day. It wasn’t perfect, but his performance is worthy of recognition.
  • STRIKER Romeo Finley. VT started to go away from him, but early in the game Finley was EVERYWHERE doing his best to stifle the Hokies’ offense. 7 tackles seems low for what he did today, but still, well done.
  • RB DeeJay Dallas’s 2 pt conversion. The smart move based on analytics is to go for 2 late in the game when down 14. Miami did that, and Dallas’s solo effort got the Canes to paydirt. And it. Was. AWESOME!!! (PS that’s the same endzone but opposite pylon from when Dallas dove in against Notre Dame in 2017 for his first career TD).
  • RB DeeJay Dallas’s touchdown run. RB1 only had 6 carries on the day, but his 62 yard TD in the 4th quarter was an incredible play. And it would have given Miami the lead, if not for a missed XP (we’ll talk about that later). In any event, another incredible play by #13.
  • S Bubba Bolden. Good to see him finally eligible and on the field.
  • DT Nesta Jade Silvera. Good to see him recovered from foot surgery and getting his first game action of the year.
  • P Louis Hedley. I’m not using hyperbole when I say that Hedley is in contention for overall MVP this season. 3 punts, 147 yards, a 48.7 yard average, including a 57 yarder. Hedley has completely revamps what was a TERRIBLE punting unit from a year ago. He’s been as good if not better than advertised.
  • DE Trevon Hill. A captain today against his former team, the senior DE had 3 tackles and a key sack to help Miami’s comeback bid.
  • 27 first downs.
  • 563 yards of offense.
  • 469 yards passing.
  • 14.66 yards per completion.
  • 8.53 yards per passing attempt.
  • 78 plays.
  • 7.2 yards per play.
  • 16 chunk plays — 12 passes (15+), 4 runs (10+)
  • 7-15 on 3rd down conversions. For a team that was THE WORST in America in 3rd down conversions coming into the game at just 23%, a 47% conversion rate was DOUBLE the season average. That can only be looked at as “good”.
  • 31:15 time of possession. A slight win in this area.

The Bad

  • Losing. It Sucks. It’s bad. And I don’t care who it’s against, losing will ALWAYS piss me off. I hate losing. I HATE IT.
  • QB Jarren Williams. 4/7 for 47 yards and 3 interceptions. On Miami’s first 3 drives. The interceptions were the first of Williams’s collegiate career. Whether the reason was mental (he didn’t see the defender) or physical (his shoulder was hurt so he didn’t have his full arm strength) is immaterial to me. That’s simply not good enough for a Miami QB. Period.
  • Allowed 9 TFLs.
  • Allowed 7 sacks.
  • Allowed 9/16 3rd down conversions for VT.
  • Allowed 9 chunk plays — 5 passes (15+), 4 runs (10+).
  • Allowed VT to go 6/6 in the Red Zone.
  • Lost the field position game, but only their 33 to our 28. Which is INCREDIBLE considering all the turnovers we gave them in plus territory.
  • That’s plenty of bad. The rest? Ugly. Keep reading.

The Ugly

  • As I said up top, since starting the 2017 season 10-0, Miami is now 4-12 in their last 16 games vs Power 5 opponents. That is pathetic.
  • Another game with a lackluster start. Why is this team NEVER prepared to play when the game starts?!
  • Also, let me get this out of the way early: the refs were ATROCIOUS today. Missed calls both ways, but far more that would have hurt VT/benefited Miami went the other way or wholly uncalled. I have examples, like 2 DPIs where the VT defender got there early but nothing was called. Or the targeting call for a hit to the head/neck of N’Kosi Perry that was OVERTURNED that literally NEVER gets overturned for a hit on the QB....except when that QB plays for Miami. Trash. But that’s standard operating procedure for ACC refs.
  • 4 turnovers on the first 4 drives of the game. Interception, Interception, Interception, Fumble. Literally laughable.
  • 5 turnovers total (Perry added an interception in the endzone for good measure).
  • -5 turnover margin in today’s game.
  • 2/4 in the Red Zone. And the 2 that weren’t converted? Interceptions, one by each QB. Terrible.
  • Speaking of terrible, how in the WORLD do you have first and goal on the 4 yard line and DON’T RUN THE BALL ONCE IN 4 PLAYS?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!?!?!? And to be clear, Perry could have scrambled in on either 2nd or 3rd down — he had ROOM — so it didn’t necessarily have to be a called run. But 4 passes from the 4? Disgusting.
  • Virginia Tech couldn’t stop any previous opponent — including Old Dominion and Furman — from running the ball at will. Miami? 23 carries for 94 yards, 62 of which came on DeeJay Dallas’s TD.
  • Miami’s handling of the VT throwback TE screen. This was a NIGHTMARE for the defense today, as VT threw 3 TDs and set up another with a rollout right, throwback TE screen to the left. Over and over and over again, this play was wide open and caught Miami’s defense by surprise like a 2month old baby playing peekaboo. Getting got by this once, maybe twice is understandable. When VT had nearly HALF their passing completions on the day using THE EXACT SAME MISDIRECTION PLAY, that’s unacceptable.
  • I know the fact that Miami was down 28-0 before they could blink had something to do with it, but DJD had 6 carries and Cam’ron Harris had 2. That’s it. The End. How is that good enough?
  • Another game with no sighting of Lorenzo Lingard anywhere other than special teams. I know there were only 8 carries for RBs today, but man, you’d think a player of Lingard’s ability would get a look eventually.
  • Why are we giving carries to Jimmy Murphy? Why is Michael Parrot — a walk-on — playing meaningful snaps at fullback? On this team with this kind of talent, that’s absolutely coaching malpractice.
  • Late in the game, why is the offense not running uptempo? How do you have a TD drive take 5+ minutes in the 4th quarter when you’re down by 3 TDs, and operating at a glacial pace? WHY are you running I-formation down 21 in the 4th? WHERE IS THE URGENCY!?!
  • K Bubba Baxa didn’t miss a FG today. Because we didn’t attempt one. But what he DID miss was a key extra point, one that would have put Miami ahead 36-35 late in the 4th quarter. That miss took all the wind out of the team and stadium. The game was still tied at 35 so it wasn’t like we lost by a point on that kick, but COME ON!!!!!!!!!! You can’t have a kicker finding kicks to miss on a weekly basis. But that’s what Baxa is doing and I’m about done with him, to be honest.
  • 11 penalties for 90 yards, including a crucial unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after DJD’s touchdown that would have given Miami the lead if not for the aforementioned missed PAT. That penalty, enforced on the kickoff, helped VT have a short they took advantage of to score the winning TD. Woof.
  • The Offensive Line continues to be a sieve or turnstile or whatever other non-sturdy item you’d like to use as a metaphor here when facing dictated passing situations. And, the run blocking was good for like.....3 plays today. So yeah, still terrible.

Team Grades

Offense: C-

5 turnovers is atrocious. A QB change is usually not what you want, but it was absolutely necessary today. But, outside of that, the passing game was dynamic in a way that we haven’t seen from Miami in a long, long time. And, after a very slow start (yet again), points were found often. There might have been a measure of “empty stats” from drives that didn’t end with points, but this offense finally found its footing, one-dimensional though it was.

Defense: D-

VT hasn’t scored this many points in a game since they hung 62 on William & Mary in the 2nd game of the 2018 season. They had a QB who can’t throw the ball, and you didn’t spy him early. Then, you let them get the same throwback pass again and again and again, which led to points either directly on that play or on a subsequent play every time. Missed tackles. Bad angles. Letting VT convert 3rd downs at will in the first half....and then late in the game, too. And no takeaways against the team that was 3rd worst in the country in turnover margin. Trash.

Special Teams: C+

Louis Hedley has been a revelation at punter. Jeff Thomas had good moments in both kick and punt return situations. But, again, this comes down to Bubba Baxa. Another week, another missed kick, this time an extra point that would have given Miami the lead late in the game. There can be no confusion on this point: it is time to find a new kicker.

Coaching: F- - -

Yup. We’re 5 games into a new coaching staff, and we’re nearly at fireable offense territory already. This team is never prepared to play games, and that’s a fact. After 2 bye weeks this year, Miami has been outscored 35-3 in the first quarter. And that’s WITH EXTRA TIME TO PREPARE. Whatever Blake Baker is doing to prepare the defense for the opponents isn’t working and needs to change. Whatever Dan Enos has been doing since the opening drive against Florida hasn’t worked until he’s opened up the creativity. So, I mean....why not do that from jump? And, whatever Manny Diaz is endeavoring to do to “change the culture” isn’t working. And, regardless of anything else, the performance of everyone in the organization comes back on you, coach.

Virginia Tech was a 2 TD underdog, starting a new QB, with the entire fan base pushing for their coach to be imminently fired for the inabilty to run a winning program. And you let them come in here and beat you, putting you now 3 games down in the Coastal Division, and on a downward slide on a short week before hosting Virginia.

THEN, to add insult to injury, Diaz quoted from the Al Golden notebook/3-ring binder after the game. “I liked our effort”. Well, coach, I didn’t. I liked the part of the game when the team decided, after spotting VT a 4 TD lead, that they wanted to play like they gave a damn. But that was too little too late, and I refuse to look at it any other way. The game of football is about both the process and result. And neither one is acceptable at this point, so that’s on you.

That’s all that I have to say right now. We’ll have plenty more to discuss soon, but I need to gather my thoughts after yet another debacle of a Saturday for the Canes.

Agree with me? Disagree and want to say why I’m wrong? Hop in the comments. I’m sure you have thoughts to share after yet another infuriating loss to an inferior opponent. I sure do.

Go Canes