The last time the Miami Hurricanes played Bethune-Cookman I wrote the piece “What can we learn from a cupcake?” here on SOTU. My talking points were as follows: quarterback competition (this was 2017, mind you), depth and quality of preparation. Two of my top concerns in 2017 are still concerns in 2019 and that says a lot about the state of the rebuild in Coral Gables.
Alleged cupcake games can lead to tough losses like when Eastern Washington beat Washington State 45-42 in 2016, or the infamous App State victory over Michigan to open the Big Ten Network in 2007. However, B-CU isn’t quite an App State who was a dominant FCS program, the Wildcats lost to a bad Nebraska team in 2018 by almost 40 points.
So what three things should fans be looking for in 2019 against the Wildcats of Daytona Beach?
1 Game preparation
Controlling the controllables. We have talked about it all off-season leading into Manny Diaz’s debut against the Florida Gators, the Tar Heels of UNC and now an FCS opponent. The Hurricanes must look like they have football conditioning and in-game discipline. The controllables have to be controlled such as false starts, procedure penalties, sloppy fumbles, dropped passes and bad snaps.
Against UNC, Miami committed seven penalties while UNC committed one. Against B-CU in 2017 Miami committed eight penalties to the Wildcats 13. One way to see if the ‘Canes are more committed to discipline and making the controllables their hedgehog is if the penalties are limited against an inferior foe. Against UNC Miami did not turn the ball over as both of Williams’ fumbles were recovered.
But the control will also be seen in the wasted timeouts for personnel, as well as bad drops and bad snaps. Does Miami come out focused against a bad team and dominate or do the ‘Canes play with the Wildcats for a half like they have in the past?
2 Improved offensive line play
I don’t care who Miami is facing the offensive line play has to improve. I’ll give it to the line against UNC that they paved the way for Deejay Dallas to run for 7.6 yards per carry and Cam’Ron Harris to run for six yards per rush and a touchdown. However, there were still some key sacks allowed on Jarren Williams. UNC sacked Williams four times and hurried him seven times in the 25-28 loss in Chapel Hill.
The offensive line should dominate an undermanned B-CU line, but if they don’t that’s a sign of more bad things to come in the future ACC slate. In 2017, an also bad Miami offensive line didn’t allow a single sack all game and only one hurry while the backs ran for over 9-yards per carry.
3 Pass rush without blitzing
Coach Diaz and Coach Baker love to bring pressure. However, how many blitzes and blitzers are really needed against a weak FCS offensive line? This has to be a game where we see Jonathan Garvin, Scott Patchan, John Ford, Pat Bethel, and Trevon Hill come alive. Without a pass rush from the front four the ‘Canes are forced to blitz and leave the defensive backs who have struggled on an island alone.
This will also allow Michael Pinckney and Shaquille Quarterman to work on their pass drop skills which have been lacking. Both have looked a step slow in 2019 and need to improve in order to be more effective in ACC play and draft-worthy players in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Miami sacked B-CU only once with two hurries back in 2017. The ‘Canes, known for their havoc creating defense, have been out sacked and our hurried through two games of the season.
Again, this game is a lot less about what Bethune does and a lot more about what the ‘Canes do. Does Miami play a clean, mistake free, penalty free game? Do the ‘Canes looked prepared more than they did against the Gators or the first quarter against UNC? This one is about Miami’s preparation.
B-CU plays a balanced offense that threw 31 times and ran 29 times against Jackson State. The Wildcats quarterback is Akevious Williams who is a dual threat player. He averaged only five yards per attempt against JSU but 4.8 yards per carry. B-CU’s offense didn’t have to do much to steal the win as the Wildcats returned an interception and a fumble back for a touchdown. Williams threw one touchdown and ran another in the victory.
Below- you can see a 10 personnel trips set.
Below- you can see an 11 personnel trips set.
I watched the few highlights I could find of the B-CU versus JSU game on the internet and this was a big one to me. Jarren Williams can’t lock onto a receiver and force a throw if Wildcats defensive backs are playing a trap coverage like this.
Miami and Williams will play well and win by 35. Something that I liked (but really hated) from Bill Connelly is the havoc avoidance ratings. Miami is sitting at 124th in the nation after giving up tackles for loss, passes defensed, interceptions and forced fumbles. That number has to improve after playing an FCS opponent.
Top 5 offenses in avoiding havoc:— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) September 10, 2019
1 Temple 4% havoc rate allowed
2 Air Force 5%
3 K-State 5%
4 Bama 6%
5 Army 7%
121 UNM 22%
122 Kent St 23%
123 TXST 23%
124 Miami 24%
125 UCLA 24%
126 GT 24%
127 USF 24%
128 WVU 26%
129 FAU 26%
130 Akron 27%https://t.co/MPnTakKr33