The Hurricanes offense was clicking on Saturday afternoon despite a rain storm at Hard Rock Stadium. The ‘Canes finally took advantage of a bad defense and finished 5-of-10 on 3rd down, did not turn the ball over, allowed only one sack, and finished perfect in the kicking game (1/1 on field goals, 7/7 on extra points).
Jarren Williams set a Miami passing record with six touchdowns breaking the five touchdown record that was held in a tie between some of Miami’s greatest players to wear the orange and green. Williams is only a freshman. Williams also averaged 11.5 yards per attempt.
Deejay Dallas continues to flash signs of his NFL running back abilities rushing for 96 yards (6.4 yards per carry) and another score. The most impressive nights were probably from Dee Wiggins and Mike Harley. Wiggins averaged 28.3 yards per catch and two touchdowns while Harley averaged 19.3 yards per catch and scored twice, as well.
Before we get started, I want to point out that 5 of Williams’ 6 touchdown passes can in the shotgun and his one under center touchdown was on a screen pass to Deejay Dallas. Embrace the gun, and modern offenses or struggle against Pitt and CMU. That is all. Let’s get it.
Run-Pass Options aka RPO’s aka modern football at all levels
Like it or not, RPO’s are here to stay. I use them in my office, Clemson and Alabama use them in their offense, Andy Reid uses them, Sean McVay and the other “geniuses” all use them, too. I’ve spent time on SOTU explaining that 1- an RPO has nothing to do with inside zone read or any other quarterback run play; and 2- they’re necessary in order to combat teams that want to load the box with even or eight defenders.
Around the 10 minute mark of the 1st quarter Miami uses an inside slant RPO for great success. This is the kind of scheme the ‘Canes should be running: 20 personnel, zone lead run scheme with an RPO packaged, and letting your faster players make plays on poor tackling teams.
As you can see above, once Williams rides the mesh of the hand off he can see if the linebacker can get to the slant route breaking behind him. If the linebacker plays up on the run at all, the QB will throw. It’s a tight window because he doesn’t play the run super aggressively like the other two linebackers but he’s close enough to the line of scrimmage that a strong, accurate throw won’t get batted or intercepted (unless it’s a linebacker in the NCAA ‘14 game).
3rd level RPO’s in the red zone
As a play caller you have to be aware of field zone tendencies. What I mean by that is- how do defensive coordinators adjust to being pinned down inside the 20 or 10 yard line? If they’re normally a zone team, do they check to man coverage (as they really should) inside the 20? Do they start bringing more pressure than usual because they’re backed up? This is something I’m much more inclined to think about than even down and distance.
A great call near the end zone is a post RPO to a single receiver. I don’t like what the twins receivers do on the bottom as they run directly into the play and really could’ve caused some chaos if the slot’s defender ran into the post from Williams. As you can see above, the safety plays up for the run and Williams pulls and preps to throw the post. The QB will have to assume his WR will come open because his 2nd option after pulling the ball is to take off and run.
This is not a perfect play by design or execution by any means but it gets Miami in the end zone once again and shows that Dan Enos is trying to modernize and make adjustments from even just a week ago.
What about defense?
The defense struggled to stop Louisville, until the Cards did something boneheaded to beat themselves. Micale Cunningham finished 12-of-18 for 12.2 yards per pass attempt and two touchdowns with an interception. He didn’t run well against the ‘Canes, and was sacked three times.
The Cards backs did run well as Javian Hawkins and Hassan Hall averaged 6.1 and 13.2 yards per carry respectively with a touchdown. Star receiver Tutu Atwell averaged 23.7 yards per catch with a touchdown. Miami’s secondary gave up huge plays with a 36, a 20, and a 40 yard reception on the afternoon.
How did guys consistently get open? Scott Satterfield found holes in the coverage. Above, on Mesh, as Shaq Quarterman covers the running back in the flat the “mesh” of mesh comes open. You can see someone plays down on the crosser going left to right but with Quarterman in the flat the crosser going right to left is open. The post is mugged up which cuts off the safety and cornerback to the top of the screen and leaves the crosser open for a huge play.
Play-Action TE Seam
Remember that field zone conversation? Teams have been picking on Miami’s inside linebackers for years with play-action in the red zone. Manny Diaz’s scheme often plays man inside the 10 (as he should) but his linebackers are horrible at identifying a play-action and they’re terrible about letting tight end types sneak into the end zone right behind them. I’ve been putting these on film reviews for the past few seasons since Manny arrived (even back to July of 2016).
Alignment and assignment
Defensive football is based on alignment and assignment. First- you have to get lined up properly and 10 men on the field, which is what this looks like, is an obvious issue. Quarterman has no other linebacker next to him. There are four down linemen, a cornerback on the LOS looking to bring pressure, an overhang splitting the EMOL and slot, two high safeties, and a cornerback over the #1 threat to the bottom of the screen.
It’s easy to see how a defense is gashed on a two-back wide zone play when the linebacker isn’t there to fill the lead blocker. He runs into free space and Quarterman gets double teamed before he can do anything.
Dan Enos opened up the playbook and Williams capitalized with a huge afternoon. Without the offense putting up big numbers this could’ve been a long day for Miami. 27 points allowed would’ve been a loss had Miami stuck to their usual points per game of 22 heading into the weekend. Instead, the ‘Canes offense scored 52 and Williams broke the UM passing touchdowns record.
Let’s hope this more shotgun influenced, spread ‘em out, take a few deep shots, utilize RPO Dan Enos is here to stay. The Arkansas-style offense he had used against Central Michigan and Pitt can stay back in Fayetteville. This game moved Miami up 21 spots on points per game from 99th and 78th.
Remember the big three of creating a successful football program? Acquisition, development and deployment? This game was proof that Miami has acquired plenty of talent, some have even developed like Dee Wiggins and Mike Harley, they just need to be deployed properly like against the Cards.