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Film Review: fullbacks are crossing

How did Miami get beaten up so badly against the Hokies?

Virginia Tech v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes are reeling coming off of another loss and a 2-3 record (1-3 versus FBS football programs). There are a ton of questions like why is the offensive line so under developed and horrible? Why can’t Miami quarterbacks seem to find open receivers rather than the waiting arms of guys from the other school? And why were the Hokies able to find their fullbacks / tight ends / h-backs for huge gains?

I’m here to answer the latter of those questions. I think teams are figuring out that Miami’s defense is really poorly coached and football stupid.

7-0, 3:27 to go in the 1st quarter

This is either really bad football by Robert Knowles or awful scheme. Either way, it’s a touchdown early on for the Hokies. Knowles runs up to play in the box, then chases the play across the field. Here, there is no counter-boot-reverse player. What that means is someone on the field (usually even 2-3 players) are in charge of waiting back in case the team runs a counter, a boot, or a reverse. Here, it’s a drag route to the fullback / h-back guy.

I have no idea what Knowles’ job is here as he floats over the formation. He misses number 29 of the Hokies release out of the backfield, as does Shaquille Quarterman. Quarterman seems to be in man coverage on the running back. No one seems to be on the fullback.

This results in the image below. As Knowles works inside (much like Carter will on the next play) the dragging Hokie is left uncovered.

In my mind once this play works, Virginia Tech just goes to their delayed crossing routes to their fullback guy in number 29 Dalton Keene. Keene has three touchdowns on the season, with all three coming against Miami.

21-0, 9:36 to go in the 2nd quarter

I’m going to assume that Miami was in man coverage here. Carter the safety to the bottom of the screen should be taking the running back in the pistol. Once the RB runs play-action he needs to switch over to the fullback to his side aka the “cross back” read. If it’s a run or a pass, Carter gets himself out of position (below).

I have no idea why the safety starts lined up outside of an inside linebacker and winds up inside of him while the linebacker doesn’t replace his gap. Either Carter is really bad at playing assignment football or the scheme is terrible. Maybe both?

If it is a run- the fullback has a clear lane to run through and kick the defensive end and the running back would run free for a touchdown anyway. Instead it’s a play-action pass and with Carter playing inside and the cornerback playing the tight end (#1 in the original picture) the fullback is going to run free. The safety help is inside of the linebacker, again, completely useless.


The Hurricanes have the 31st ranked defense per the SP+ to go with being 32nd overall. The Miami offense is ranked 47th while the kicking game is 109th. It’s hard to argue with Bill C’s analytics (even if he’s over at ESPN now) but man it doesn’t feel like Miami is 47th or 32nd or 31st in anything. 109th sounds more correct.

Miami has the chance now to enter a total free-fall after the UVA game unless they can right the ship. The ACC Coastal is the weakest it has ever been, hopefully Manny Diaz can capitalize.