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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Virginia Cavaliers edition

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It wasn’t pretty, but Miami found a way to win. Let’s grade the performance.

Tim Brogdon, Miami Athletics

It was not the prettiest game ever, but Miami found a way to eke out a 19-14 win over the Virginia Cavaliers.

No recap this week because I would have had to do double duty, and this game was closer than it should have been, so I didn’t really have time to do both.

And now, what you’re here for: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good

  • Winning. Look, it wasn’t great, I know, but winning is better than losing. And finding a way to win a game that Miami would likely have lost in most of the last few years has to be good. And I’m always gonna call a win good, even if there are things that I don’t love about it.
  • Miami sprinted out of the gate. How fast? A 2 play TD drive that took 28 seconds. Mike Harley hit this nasty sluggo and King dropped the ball in the bucket for the score.
  • Speaking of WR Mike Harley, he had a career game tonight. 10 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown. Miami has needed receivers to step up, and Harley did that tonight. Bravo!
  • WR Mark Pope had some flashes. So did Will Mallory. So did Dee Wiggins. All of them, along with Harley, had catches over 25 yards on the night.
  • QB D’Eriq King finished 21/30 for 322 yards and 1 TD. Missed a couple throws, but overall had a very strong game throwing the ball.
  • RB Don Chaney Jr. It wasn’t the most eye-popping statistical day, but things started moving when Chaney saw action. 10 carries for 43 yards and a TD. I’m what I’m talking about.
  • P Louis Hedley. ONLY 43.2 yards per punt today, but still a strong performance from him.
  • The defense, kinda. It wasn’t perfect, but Miami’s defense largely did the job and kept Virginia out of the endzone. Both scores were on long drives, but that’s all the scoring there was. That has to count for something.
  • 444 yards of offense — 322 passing, 122 rushing.
  • 23 first downs
  • 8/17 on 3rd down
  • 1/1 on 4th down
  • 13 chunk plays — 8 passes (15+), 5 runs (10+)
  • 15.3 yards per completion
  • 3-4 red zone scoring (2 TD, 1 FG)
  • 78 plays. The tempo CLEARLY affected Virginia, as several players needed to catch their breath, and the Cavs used no fewer than 4 timeouts today on defense to slow down Miami’s offense.
  • 1 fumble recovery, on the last play of the game to seal the win.
  • Halftime defensive adjustments. I liked what I saw from that group in 2H.
  • The fact that the team didn’t quit. Miami would have folded and lost this game more often than not over the last decade. They fought and persevered and won tonight. Gotta like that.

The Bad

  • Being in a dogfight with Virginia. A team that gave up an average of 35 ppg this season heading into this game. And you play down to their level and let them hang around. Don’t like that.
  • Allowed 11 TFL
  • Allowed 5 sacks.
  • Cam Harris 8 carries for 8 yards and benched?
  • Robert Burns in at RB in a 4 minute/clock draining situation when he hadn’t gotten a snap all day AND when Chaney Jr was clearly doing his thing. Not my favorite.
  • Allowed 18 first downs
  • Allowed 7-16 on 3rd down
  • A continual inability to realize that UVa’s QBs were not going to throw the ball. So many gadget plays, so many QB runs, so many “dropbacks” with guys rushing up-field like ANY of the Virginia QBs would stand there and not try to run. It was mind boggling. And....bad.
  • More tipped balls on RPOs. Still an issue to address.
  • 10 chunk plays allowed — 3 passes (15+), 7 runs (10+...mostly scrambles)

The Ugly

  • Another week, yet another targeting penalty by S Amari Carter. This was the 4th of his career and 2nd this season. And it came on Virginia’s 2nd offensive play. He may be “a captain”, but Carter cannot start, much less play here anymore. He disqualifies himself on a literal weekly basis. And yes, the WR turtled (ducked his head) as Carter neared for the ultimately disqualifying hit, but this is a constant issue with him. And I’m over it.
  • The run game. 2.5 yards per carry, down from 2.6 ypc last week. I know the passing game found life, but the run game has to be better. Plain and simple.
  • The offensive line. It’s a miracle King had the time to throw for what he did. But the pass protection in dictated passing situations, and the run blocking overall, must get better. I will say, however, on the 16 play FG drive that Miami running “power-O” with Chaney at RB was a winning combination. I’d like to see more of that.
  • Allowed 11 TFL
  • Allowed 5 sacks
  • (yes, I listed the last 2 things as both bad AND ugly. it’s my article. fight me)
  • Let Virginia hang around. Can’t be doing that with teams of this caliber, but this is something Miami has done with Virginia specifically for like 20 years.
  • The long inactives list tonight. Miami is a private school so they don’t have to release further information other than players being out, but having so many new players out randomly would seem to hint at something. You know the something. I know the something. But I’m not saying the something.

Team Grades

Offense: C

Passing game did numbers. Run game had moments but was largely contained. And the scoreboard only had 19 points, when Virginia had been giving up 35+ on a weekly basis. Take out the opening 2-play TD drive, and this is a much different conversation. Passed this test, but this was a 101 class, not a grad level course. Improvements are needed.

Defense: C+

Harsh grading or not, things weren’t great tonight. Diaz-led defense have struggled with mobile QBs, and that continued. Add in the weekly “they’re running new stuff we had never seen before and that’s why we can’t stop them” statement early on, and yeah, we need more. Additionally, the defense is built on TFLs. Miami only had 2. That’s gotta change.

Special Teams: C-

Punting was good. Punt returns could have taken a couple more fair catches instead of letting the ball bounce and get downed inside the 5. 50% on FGs, with the missed one blocked. Kickoffs were only okay, but coverage was good. A bit of a harsh grade because this unit had been one of Miami’s best this season so a step back is a BIG DEAL.

Coaching: C-

Another week, another “they’re doing stuff we’ve never seen on film” from the coaches. When are WE going to surprise someone? I mean, the first drive was cool, but where was that the rest of the game? And, we should have blown these bums out. Played down to the opponent again. That’s on the coaches, even if they and the team found a way to win.


Yeah, Miami won Saturday’s game, but it was far from a stellar showing. Simply put: performances such as this will not be good enough against the better teams still on the schedule, and things need to get fixed. Fast.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

Go Canes