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Film Review: Miami 17 - Duke 27

‘Canes fall to Blue Devils in regular season finale

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes just finished the 2019 season with a 6-6 record and will have the chance to finish with a winning season in a bowl game. The Hurricanes never got the offense off the ground this season, and I’ll have a complete season recap at some point but for now, let’s focus on Duke.

Miami finished the game 4-of-20 on third down conversions, committed six penalties and turned the ball over once. Miami gave up nine sacks, 11 tackles for loss and another six hurries as injured linemen and slow developing play-action passes forced Jarren Williams into submission. Williams finished the 5.5 yards per passing attempt while backup N’Kosi Perry finished with 2.1 on the day.

With starting running back Deejay Dallas out with an injury, Miami had to turn to Cam’Ron Harris and Robert Burns. Former five-star running back Lorenzo Lingard did not receive a carry on the afternoon. Harris averaged 5.5 yards per carry with a touchdown but the bulk of the carries went to Robert Burns who only picked up 2.7 yards per carry on 18 runs.

Miami has lacked a big play receiver at times but Will Mallory, a backup tight end, averaged 23.3 yards per carry against Duke on four catches. Dee Wiggins and Jeff Thomas were held without receptions and Mike Harley only grabbed two balls for 19 yards on the afternoon.

Miami v Duke Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

One of many sacks

Roster mismanagement and the inability to get the ball to playmakers has been a huge issue all season. On this rep, Will Mallory is the tight end staying in to block while Michael Irvin II is running the dig concept. How does that make any sense at all? The obvious better pass catching threat is Mallory, and you would hope with that build Mr. Irvin II could block better than Mallory.

Above, fans, announces and coaches have been critical of Dan Enos’ penchant for wanting Williams to turn his back on play-action passes. At the point that you see in the screenshot, Williams is already five yards deep, has his back turned to his targets and threats, and Miami will use Mallory and Harris to the top of the screen leaving Zion Nelson (left tackle) on a one-on-one.

Above, Williams has already dropped to seven yards off the line of scrimmage as Nelson (left tackle) has to “oh shit.” I coined that phrase for hard pass rushers where the offensive tackle has to say “oh shit he’s coming,” open his hips and start to mirror. Nelson’s left knee should be in the defensive end’s crotch and his hands should be jabbing the Blue Devil at least three times to slow him down.

Nelson’s issue is his stance is either completely too wide, or unbelievably narrow, rarely just right. Here, Nelson’s stance is really wide and Williams isn’t climbing the pocket. The quarterback has to know and understand his tackle’s technique. If that tackle gets a speed rush he’s going to open up and mirror the rusher. The QB can’t sit at 7-yards, and he also can’t escape outside-first. The QB has to climb back up the pocket and underneath the pass rush.

Above, you can see Nelson is beat but Williams is now nine yards deep. Remember, Williams only gets about 2.8 seconds to release the ball. He’s already taken a massive drop from being heels at 5-yards at the snap, he’s turned, play-faked, and set up and dropped to nine yards. Harris is helping Mallory at the top of the screen, Williams’ blind side is what’s stuck being a one-on-one, and Williams doesn’t climb the pocket until it’s too late.

Unlike this later play-action pass where Williams keeps his eyes on the targets and threats, and it’s a quick release throw for him with no drop. With all of the quality control guys, analysts and computer technology- Enos has to know what works and what doesn’t. That’s simple self-scout. It’s especially bad that they attempted these slow developing play-actions coming off of a bye week before FIU and now again after the FIU game.

Zion Nelson still gets whipped but it doesn’t matter as the ball is coming out quicker. Although not as quick as you would want, I’m not sure why Williams doesn’t get this out earlier than he does.


This is a classic case in having two senior, veteran, “most starts ever” linebackers and they fail to follow gap responsibilities and to shed a block on the bubble-draw. The Duke QB, Harris, will read the flat defender. When he runs to the bubble, Harris will run a QB draw.

Above, you can see what Harris is reading, and you can see the Miami linebackers frozen in space. As the Duke center comes out the linebacker has to make the decision to keep his outside hand (hand to the bottom of the screen) free, knowing that his other linebacker has the field and he must protect the boundary.

You can really see it above, the linebacker to the boundary has to stay to the boundary.

Above, you can see that when that linebacker steps to the field, and crosses the formation, he’s now let that lineman cut him off and the QB has a massive hole back side. With the defensive end running by the quarterback like he has his eyes closed, there is no one left to contain Harris now that the linebacker is out of position.

Another issue that you can see above is the linebackers have been really poor at shedding blocks. They’ve let linemen get inside of them and get their hands on them all season. From there, they don’t shed blocks well and are now both turned away from the play. With the defensive end nine yards deep (he’s used to scheming against Dan Enos, I guess) Harris can run under that rush end and outside of the linebacker. Shake one poor tackling safety and you have a huge play or even a touchdown on a simple pass-run option.

More proof in the theory “you can play four years or one year four times,” is Shaq Quarterman here.

I hate the scheme idea to have no linebackers in the middle of the defense as it is. But it’s really bad when your linebacker that you blitz blocks a lineman and never sheds. Quarterman actually opens the hole for the running back. With no one else there to defend against him filling vs ripping and making the play- it’s a touchdown.

Screen game

Say what you want about Dan Enos but he’s been really committed to the under center, delayed, running back screen. It’s been a successful play, especially to Deejay Dallas. Here it works with Robert Burns. My coaching point is that if the linemen can get out in space and block this well here, why not run a variety of screens to slow down the pass rush? Where are the double screens and middle screens out of the shotgun?

What does failure look like?

Failure and quitting looks like when all else fails throw in the walk-on. Manny Diaz gave up on the season the minute the walk-on got on the field against Georgia Tech and now again versus Duke. That’s when you’ve thrown in the towel on the current season. No offense to the kid, it’s just not a walk-on’s world.

Of course all three linebackers bite hard on the play-action and only Quarterman figures it out and breaks off to cover the pass. But that’s already much too deep of a throw and too late. A Miami defensive back winds up flat on is face and a Duke wide receiver gets wide open once again. Busted coverage has been a Miami nightmare since Manny Diaz arrived on campus and continues through year four with his defense and defensive staff.


I’m sure we’ll get into the wrap up duty stuff shortly, but this has been a rough season. In four years the defense doesn’t look like it has grown at all. Yet, it’s not the biggest issue. Sure Duke outscored its season average against the ‘Canes but 27 points isn’t some insurmountable number. 65 FBS programs score 28 or more points per game including Nebraska, UNC and Oregon State. The defense needs new ideas, especially at linebacker and cornerback but the offense failed Manny Diaz in 2019, too.

Again, I’ll get to my season long thoughts in due time. For now enjoy your favorite team being 6-6 with losses to FIU, Georgia Tech, and Duke.