2016: Georgia Tech - 35-21
Then a Four Game Losing Streak
2017: Virginia - 44-28
Then Three Game Losing Streak
2018: Florida State - 28-27
Then a Four Game Losing Streak
2019: Louisville Game - 52-27
Then a Three Game Losing Streak
2020: Florida State - 52-10
Then a Loss to Clemson
THEN A WIN VS PITT
This is what happened after each big win or schedule segment Miami has had in the time that Manny Diaz has been on the Hurricanes staff.
Notice a trend?
Games and moments that gave us waaay too much bass in our voice. Games and moments that told us we were different than we were. Many of us (me BIG TIME) told our lies before the Clemson game because of the excitement, what we saw and wanted to see.
What we saw was gamesmanship at its finest and the Canes on the losing end, but I digress.
Fortunately, Miami BROKE that habir this year in defeating the Pittsburgh Panthers (or not defeating itself).
What the focus needs to be this and the remainder of the season is maintaining balance and rhythm, as well as improving it. The Canes, whether the struggling type of the last two years, a burgeoning team in 2016 or the ACC runner up in 2017, have been unable to defeat their own pride.
The Miami we all know and love/hate from the past few years does one, consistently frustrating thing that we ALL see, season to season:
Playing Down to the Level of Lesser Opponents
‘Sings’ - “A Tale As Old As Tiiimmme”
Whether its scratching out a victory versus Directional Michigan, or flat out losing to Louisiana Tech and Florida International, Miami has notoriously had an issue play a consistent brand of inspired football. I m sure we would all love to play against Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech each week, the fact of the matter is that we have to have the same intensity and focus for the little sisters of the pour as we do for our tier of peers in the NCAA.
Two trends Miami needs to avoid this season:
Losing to Duke
Losing to 3-5 conference members in the ACC.
These two trends go hand in hand, because, well, without the unforgivable back to back loss to Duke teams with 3-5 ACC records, this wouldn’t be a trend. The other squad? The 2017 heart breaker versus Pittsburgh that sent us hurdling through the end of the 2017 season with three consecutive losses. That loss was to a freshman quarterback, which we will address later. The loss to Duke from last season ties into the trend of losing the hangover game after big wins, as it came on the heels of the record setting game versus Louisville.
For the remainder of our schedule, Miami should be favored in the rest of its games, as usual. So there will be plenty of chances to break the trend.
Best Chances to Break: Virginia, Georgia Tech, NC State, Wake Forest
Best Chance to Continue the Trend: Wake Forest
My Day Ones: Elite Quarterbacks
Though a trend that most schools would like to be in front of, losses to eventual top selected quarterbacks, is one Miami will have to gain control over if they are to become a program to be reckoned with in college football. Since 2016 and Mitchell Trubisky, Miami has had a steady stream of losses against Round 1 and Round 2 talents each year.
Inclusive of Trubisky, the 2nd overall selection and first quarterback selection of the 2017 Draft (Chicago Bears), that list is:
- 2016 - Deshone Kizer - 2017, Second Round, 52nd Overall
- 2018 - Daniel Jones - 2019, First Round, 6th Overall
- 2018 - Joe Burrow - 2020, First Overall
- 2019 - Sam Howell - Future High Draft Pick
- 2020 - Trevor Lawrence - Future Top Overall
Though we can’t tell the future. I think it’s very apparent that Trevor Lawrence was one of those guys this season. As for other candidates Miami may face that can match this criteria? Hendon Hooker, the quarterback for the Virginia Tech Hokies is a dual threat that has excellent size and can also sling the ball efficiently. As is, the junior is trending similarly to the career of Bryce Perkins, but a steady improvement could see him take a similar path to quarterbacks like Jalen Hurts, though that would be an absolute best case scenario, in my opinion.
The other? Well of course the quarterback to the most overrated team in the ACC, Sam Howell. The savvy quarterback that ALMOST was a Cane AND a Nole, had the Canes number in 2019. With a repeat of last season or an improvement on that over each of this and the next couple of seasons, Howell WILL be a first or second round quarterback.
Best Chances to Break: Virginia Tech, North Carolina
Best Chance to Continue the Trend: North Carolina
The First Time Is The Hardest: First Year Starters QB
Not to be out done, are the first year starters against the Canes. Though not exclusive to true freshmen, we have seen a few green arms stand up against the Hurricanes defense. Over the same time frame as above we have seen the quarterbacks below beat us:
- 2016 - DeAndre Francois: 19 - 20
- 2016 - Jerod Evans: 16 - 37
- 2017 - Kenny Pickett: 14 - 24
- 2018 - Joe Burrow: 17 - 33
- 2018 - Bryce Perkins: 6 - 13
- 2019 - Sam Howell: 25 - 28
- 2019 - Hendon Hooker: 35 - 42
The reasons for this range from game plans that were geared specifically for Miami’s defense (Sam Howell, Jerod Evans), failures in personnel (Joe Burrow) or frankly a failure of the offense (Francois, Pickett and Perkins). Whatever the reason, Miami has been susceptible and unlucky enough to allow this trend to continue.
Fortunately for Miami, (or conversely unfortunate, if you assume its more opportunities to CONTINUE the trend), there are multiple chances to stop this trend, and none seems to fall into the category of a Sam Howell situation.
Georgia Tech offers Jeff Sims, a nicely ranked quarterback from the 2020 class that looks to have great moxie and fearlessness. Its the fearlessness, however, that very well could be his downfall versus an aggressive Miami defense.
North Carolina State’s Bailey Hockman steps in for the injured Devin Leary in two weeks versus Miami. A former FSU commit, the QB went the juco route before returning to the NCAA with NC State. A similar mindset to Sims, Hockman is fearless enough with the ball that turnovers will be a major issue. Unlike Sims, however, Hockman will relatively be kept in the pocket due to a lack of athleticism.
Lastly, and much more uniquely set up is Virginia. It is possible that the concussed Branden Armstrong is cleared prior to Saturday’s game. It is more likely that the three headed monster of Lindell Stone, primary passer, along with two wildcat QBs in grad transfer Keytaon Thompson and freshman Iraken Armstead will lead the Cavaliers against. The possibility of prepping for 3 different QBs sounds daunting, however none are a true threat alone, allowing Miami an advantage versus Virginia. Defeat 3 first year starters? Talk about habit breaking.
Best Chances to Break: Virginia, Georgia Tech, NC State
Best Chance to Continue the Trend: Virginia
Other Notable Trends
This Time of Year
Miami is 3-1 in Week 6 of the seasons since 2016:
- 2016 North Carolina L (12-20)
- 2017 Syracuse W (27-19)
- 2018 Florida State W (28-27)
- 2019 Virginia W (17-9)
Annnd 1-3 in Week 7 since 2016:
- 2016 Virginia Tech L (16-37)
- 2017 North Carolina W (24-19)
- 2018 Virginia L (13-16)
- 2019 Georgia Tech L (21-28)
That bodes well for the coming weekend against the Cavaliers, but sets up NC State as a possible upset special. Though NC States defense is nothing to be too concerned about, allowing each opponent more points than their point pergame averages, the offense for the Wolfpack will bear monitoring during their tilt with the Tar Heels.
Very Vexing Virginia
File this one under Stranger Things. Outside of the magical 2017 season, Miami has won one and lost one each year since 2016, losing two to Virginia Tech and one to Virginia. Although a trend not married to tangible statistics, sports is weird enough to encourage this trend to have legs if Miami isn’t careful.
0-3 bowl games 0-5 Neutral Site Games
All the above leads to the big games to top off the season. Miami broke a similar streak in 2016 when Mark Richt returned to his alma mater and led the Hurricanes to a decisive 31-14 victory in the Russell Athletic Bowl at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Since then? Back to back losses versus Wisconsin were different games but losses none the less. Yet, it was last years debacle versus Louisiana Tech that saw the Hurricanes as the only shut out in the entire Bowl slate, ending one of the worst Hurricanes seasons in history.
One and only one trend that, if Miami is able to improve upon, can start the domino effect through all these and culminate with another bowl victory.
Playing UP TO Miami standards, and not down to its opponents will tell the tale, once again, of how this season will be graded. Double digit victories against everyone not named Clemson thus far is greatly encouraging towards that goal. Another pair of trends also lends themselves to the second half of Miami’s season:
Fun Fact:— Stephan_Urkel (@pbcorbust) October 20, 2020
Not inlcuding FCS and Bowl Games:
Manny Diaz and the Miami Hurricanes have given up LESS Points Per Game in the Second Half of the Regular Season than the First Three Yrs in A Row.
Streak should get to 4 this yr, w/ better LB rotation, Harrison-Hunte and Clemson.
Because of this:— Stephan_Urkel (@pbcorbust) October 20, 2020
Manny and Miami are:
First Four ACC Games: 8-8
Last Four ACC Games: 12-4 https://t.co/YRv21gbNfr
Finally, two trends Manny Diaz and the Miami Hurricanes would love to continue. Improving that 12-4 record to 16-4 behind another burgeoning defensive front for the Canes would be a recipe for success and a bridge to brighter days for the Canes.
Take care of these, and the Canes are EASILY, trending UP.