Central Michigan head coach Jim McElwain has the Chips at 2-1 heading into a showdown in the Orange Bowl. McElwain is the former Florida Gators head coach who was fired after a 22-12 record in Gainesville, FL. McElwain never seemed to fit in at Florida and was replaced by former Gator offensive coordinator Dan Mullen.
McElwain is now at CMU and looking to hit the refresh button on his career. He was a winner at Colorado State in his final two seasons, and in his first two seasons in charge of the Gators (19-8 record). He spent the 2018 season as the wide receivers coach at Michigan under Jim Harbaugh.
While the Chips have knocked off FCS Albany and another midwestern G-Five in Akron, they were smoked by the Wisconsin Badgers to the tune of 61-0. Miami is obviously not Wisconsin as the ‘Canes have been beaten by the Badgers in consecutive bowl games to end the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Wisconsin only came away with one sack and one hurry against the Chips and that’s not a good sign for Miami. The Badgers have a solid pass rush and Miami’s has been suspect in 2019. In the image above you can see five or six potential rushers for the Badgers and one comes off the edge to get to the quarterback. CMU threw 24 times and while they only completed nine it wasn’t because of the pass rush.
Miami needs to get after the quarterback to take pressure off of their young defensive backs. The safeties have been on a rotation and even Trajan Bandy, someone I like as a player, hasn’t been as good as he was a year ago. Wisconsin came away with only one turnover against the CMU offense, too.
The Chips seem to run a 4-2-5 defense and align their defensive backs as to not give up big plays. If Miami wants to score a ton of points on the Chips, like the Badgers did, they’re going to have to get the running game and RPO game going. Miami flashed third level RPO’s and 2nd level RPO’s against B-CU and hopefully that trend will continue against CMU.
Stick is an Air Raid staple and I personally love to run it against teams that don’t press the slot receiver. Also it’s great against teams who bring pressure from inside linebackers. The first read is the stick to the h-back or #3 threat. The 2nd read is the speed out (unless the speed out is uncovered). Typically the vertical isn’t in the rhythm or read progression, but can be a “gift” route pre-snap if the coverage, alignment and personnel feels good to the QB.
Wisconsin’s Quintez Cephus ripped off six catches for 130 yards and two scores (21.7 yards per reception) against CMU in the beatdown. So which Miami receiver is going to come alive for a similar game against much less talented defensive backs?
Mark Pope might have to be the deep threat the ‘Canes rely on. Pope is averaging 20.8 yards per catch for the ‘Canes but has yet to score a touchdown. Mike Harley has averaged 15.6 yards per catch and hauled in one touchdown. Jeff Thomas is averaging a measly 8.6 yards per reception and has yet to catch a touchdown in 2019.
Miami’s quarterback Jarren Williams has been safe with the football but has averaged 9.8 yards adjusted per pass in 2019. Williams has completed just under 74-percent of his passes, too. That’s a really high completion percentage especially for a redshirt freshman.
Where the Badgers were able to dominate the Chips was in things like third down conversions. The Badgers converted on 11-of-13 third downs against CMU. Miami struggled to convert 4-of-9 third downs against the B-CU Wildcats. Wisconsin also had only one penalty in the game and Miami has been penalty prone so far in 2019.
Again, this season comes down to how prepared Manny Diaz is to be a head football coach. If his teams continue to struggle in the kicking game, with discipline, and with third down conversions I’m starting to wonder exactly what Miami has in their head coach. This isn’t a “learn on the job” position, or at least it shouldn’t be.
One guy the Chips won’t be able to stop is Deejay Dallas. Dallas has been dominant so far in 2019 for the 1-2 ‘Canes and will continue this trend against CMU. Expect over 100 yards rushing and three scores from the junior running back.
Prediction: Miami by 28.