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Film Review: Miami 31 - Pitt 19

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‘Canes hold off Panthers with stingy red zone defense

Miami v Florida International Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes hosted the Pitt Panthers on Saturday, October 17th and emerged victorious in a bounce back game for the program. Manny Diaz needed this win after the Clemson loss to keep the program on the right track and headed towards the ACC Championship Game.

Miami won this game on red zone stands. Even after an ugly D’Eriq King interception, Miami held strong against Pitt and kept forcing field goals.

On offense

The Hurricanes were held to just 4-of-13 on third downs, threw two interceptions, and averaged only 7.2 yards per pass and 2.6 yards per carry. The offensive line regressed, allowing four sacks, 15 tackles for loss, and two hurries on the QB.

Miami struggled with their traditional vanilla game plan but when they broke out the tricks it started to really pay off. The GIF below is of the fake-draw pass to Cam’Ron Harris for a touchdown. It’s the small details like the pulling guard which sucks the linebackers down, and having Harris run out like a kick out block on power, but then turn up field and find space in the hole left by the safety.

Above- you can watch the defender get sucked in by the guard in real time then say “oh crap” and try to recover back to Harris but it’s too late.

D’Eriq King finished the afternoon going 16-of-31 passing, averaging only 7.2 yards per attempt, and throwing four touchdowns but with two interceptions. King was held to only 32 yards rushing on the afternoon and had multiple passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.

Above- the run game has to get these things figured out. King has struggled to make the right read at times. Here is a great example. If the DE’s numbers are showing, give to the RB. If they disappear, then you can pull. I’m all for letting King loose but maybe Lashlee feels he’s not making the reads, anyway.

Above- GIF of the inside zone read gone wrong.

The running game struggled to get going against Pitt’s 4-2-5 look. 109 yards were split between five players on 42 carries. 2.6 yards per carry and an off night for Cam’Ron Harris were the story.

The receivers were still a bit shaky against the Panthers who like to match up and play match quarters in the back of the defense. Pitt finished with five PBU’s on the day. Will Mallory caught two balls, both touchdowns, including a 45 yarder. Mike Harley hauled in a 38 yarder and Harris also had a 35 yard touchdown reception.

Above- when things weren’t working right Lashlee slowed it down and pull out more variety. This bunch set with a wheel is a great example. I love this call against match coverage teams. It forces a lot of switching by guys that are up at the line of scrimmage, that ain’t easy to do.


On defense

The Miami defense stepped up, especially when Pitt got into scoring position. The ‘Canes held Pitt to four field goals that easily could’ve been multiple touchdowns. Miami’s defense logged three sacks, nine tackles for loss, seven PBU’s and six QB hurries.

Miami has to get Bradley Jennings Jr. and Zach McCloud off the field and let these young linebackers get some time.

Above- An early run Pitt ripped off goes for big yardage, that should’ve been bigger yards (man, Pitt sucks on offense). McCloud runs himself out of the play and there’s some gap confusion by the defensive line.

The ‘Canes allowed only 5.9 yards per pass and 0.8 yards per carry. The back seven did give up a few deep balls to Yellen and his receivers. Jordan Addison had an all-star afternoon catching eight balls for 147 yards (18.4 yards per catch) while three other receivers had explosive plays, too.

Above- this is a coverage sack, sure, but it’s also an effort sack. Four young bucks just working non-stop to get to the QB. No one standing around or giving up on the play.

Quincy Roche came alive with four TFL’s, half a sack, and a hurry. Something you might’ve noticed was the playing time increase for some of the younger players. Jared Harrison-Hunte, Jordan Miller came away with half a sack, half a TFL, and a hurry. Cornerback Te’Cory Couch finished with three PBU’s and looking fantastic in coverage.

Above- I’m not sure how coaches don’t watch what Virginia Tech did to Miami and just try to replicate it. Hit guys in the flat, hit crossers, use play-action with delayed releases from TE’s. And guess who is the guy that lets his receiver go? No, guess.

Above- Couch does a great job of sticking with his man and getting the PBU... PLAY THIS MAN MORE!

Bubba Bolden and Amari Carter both looking iffy in coverage at times. Bolden at least adds the sure tackling and versatility promise that Carter does not. A combination of Gurvan Hall and Bolden should be on the field much more than Bolden and Carter. Miami did give up some big throws to Joey Yellen but held him to completing less than half of his attempted passes.


Summary

It wasn’t pretty but it was a win. Miami has a lot to clean up a lot from all three phases of the game. However, the ACC is a complete disaster after Clemson. Notre Dame beat Louisville’s swiss cheese defense 12-7, and the next best team, UNC, lost to lowly FSU.

What is left on Miami’s schedule? UVA isn’t very good this year but their style of smash-mouth football has always posed an issue for the softer Hurricanes. NC State poses a threat since they’ve overcome their bad loss to the Hokies. Virginia Tech seems to have Diaz-Baker figured out. Georgia Tech beat up on Louisville and then turned around and were embarrassed by Clemson. Wake Forest doesn’t look very good in 2020. And UNC just lost to FSU who is improving but still not a good team.

Miami has a clear run to a rematch with Clemson but has to get the job done. Clean up some discipline issues, practice tackling, play better against deep middle passing, and get the run game going again. King has to work on his accuracy and Miami has to figure out the batted down balls at the line of scrimmage. I said this was a 9-2 team, let’s see it!