Wins are supposed to feel good. They are supposed to make the players, coaches, and fans happy until the next opportunity to play a game. Why does Saturday’s 17-12 win over Central Michigan feel like a loss? It’s because there is an expectation that Miami should punish teams from the MAC conference and not hang on thanks to an Al Blades Jr. interception to seal the game. Why only 4 games into the season does it feel like Miami is taking a step backwards in each game? Why is Manny Diaz pointing out that the Wednesday before the game Miami had their worst practice of the year? Is the culture that broken? Is “the disease” that real?
Where Do We Start?
I will sound like an old man with this statement, but it’s time to stop coddling these players. The Turnover Chain is one of my favorite things in sports all-time, and for 3 years now when the defense is causing them, the offense and the rest of the team seem to thrive off of the energy on the sideline, but is the team more interested in running to the side and putting on the jewelry? Manny Diaz decided this year to let the offense in on the fun, and created “The Touchdown Rings”. While I enjoy the rings, and the homage it pays to the 80s, the offense hasn’t earned the right to have a prop of their own. Miami has scored 20, 25 and 17 points against FBS competition. They sit near the bottom in 3rd down conversions, and sacks allowed, yet we reward this mediocrity with a TD ring. Why is that? The Canes look silly running to put on jewelry to celebrate all 2 TDs scored against Central Michigan. It is also silly for the team to give out Player of the Game plaques after a loss. Stuff like this causes complacency, and it is the root cause of a team playing down to their competition. It’s time to pull back on the participation trophy award attitude and get back to demanding perfection out of the players.
It’s On The Coaches Too
Dan Enos was a good hire at Offensive Coordinator, but the results have been very meh in the 1st 4 games. I get it, Miami is starting a lot of youth on the offensive side of the ball, but I read all offseason how Enos was going to make it easier for the O-Line by out scheming his opponent. Has he really done that through four games? Again I go back to points scored, 3rd downs and sacks allowed, and the answer is a resounding no. Miami had so many chances to score more points against Florida and North Carolina, and be 4-0 instead of 2-2. What I’ve watched is an OC who is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Miami has spent way too many wasted downs with long, slow developing run plays, or long play action passes which more times than not have been stuffed for losses or resulted in sacks. The best coordinators scheme to their teams strengths and right now slow developing plays are not what the Canes do best. It’s time for more shotgun RPO’s and some uptempo to make things easier for the offense to succeed. Miami doesn’t have Alabama talent, so Enos needs to stop calling plays like he’s still in Tuscaloosa.
Blake Baker is also going through growing pains on the defensive side. He has struggled with when to blitz, and when to play zone. His most ill-timed blitz was on 4th and 17 at North Carolina, when the correct call would’ve been to build a wall at the 1st down marker, rush 4 and make UNC throw the ball short of the sticks. Miami has too much talent to allow a WR to be wide open with the game on the line, except 2 DBs were out of position on a blitz that never needed to happen. It seems like the defense is more confused than in years past, so Baker needs to find what they do best, and stick with it.
Miami has been stuck in a 15 year cycle of losing too many winnable games. Fans not showing up because the team is not performing well. Recruits leaving the state because fans aren’t showing up, and the team isn’t winning. The only way to break the cycle is winning! Think back to 2017, and how many close games the Canes won that year. Fans and players thrived off the fact that Miami was WINNING games, and it didn’t matter if it was by 1 or 50. The team won, the fans showed up, and recruits paid attention. That is the only way to fix this! I was super disappointed in the performance against Central Michigan, but at the end of the day Miami won. The goal of winning the ACC Coastal is still there for the taking, and the Canes need to take these 2 weeks to look in the mirror, correct the correctable mistakes and get ready for 2 tough games back to back at home vs Virginia Tech and Virginia. Win those 2, and watch how much the attitude in Coral Gables changes. Manny Diaz, your staff and players, it’s on you guys now to work your butts off and make this right.