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Film Review: Miami 44 - NC State 41

‘Canes break the bye week curse with 10 point comeback in Raleigh

Miami v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes hit the road to take on the NC State Wolfpack on Friday night in Raleigh, NC. The ‘Canes are now 6-1 after a 44-41 comeback victory over the Pack. NCSU had a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter but D’Eriq King wouldn’t be denied as he put up video game numbers, 500 total yards, five touchdowns, in the three point win.

The data for every aspect of the ‘Canes except King, the specialists, and Mike Harley was rather putrid. The ‘Canes were called for 12 penalties for 101 yards. Miami converted on only 7-of-16 3rd down opportunities. One silver lining was the lack of turnovers- Miami did not turn the ball over a single time. However, the Hurricanes allowed a kick return for a touchdown to put Miami in a hole.

About the specialists- Jose Borregales continued to be automatic finishing 3-for-3 on field goals and 5-for-5 on extra points while Lou Hedley averaged 43.3 yards per punt. But the returners still struggled on field the ball.

The offense

D’Eriq King shut me and everyone else up with a 431 yard passing performance that saw him average 10.5 yards per attempt with five touchdowns, no turnovers, and another 105 yards on the ground rushing.

Above- Lashlee and King do a great job of picking on the NCSU DC’s “man to man every play” scheme. They run a dig-corner and the safety can’t get over the top of the speedy WR.

King lofts the ball up there like a rainbow and it’s the wide receiver’s job to come down with it. Mike Harley did just that catching eight balls for 153 yards and two scores. Mark Pope, Will Mallory, and Dee Wiggins caught the other three touchdowns from King.

The run game struggled early and picked up more once King started to drop dimes deep. Miami might have to become a pass first, run second attack. Cam’Ron Harris ran for 62 yards, Jaylan Knighton 13, and Don Chaney Jr 14 on the night.

Above- So what are the ‘Canes and King seeing from defensive ends? They’re seeing “mesh charge” or basically a technique where the DE is trying to tackle both the QB and the RB at the same time. Unlike the “read technique” where the DE settles at the LOS.

This mesh charge means the end sprints directly at the QB causing him to have to make a much faster decision, and possibly fight off that DE’s long arms and big hands. Typically, the QB was taught if you can see the DE’s chest, give. But with the DE coming directly at the middle of you both, that becomes more difficult to just give, because it’s causing handoffs that lead to TFL’s.

Above- running IZR against a mesh charge requires athleticism, vision, and ball skills to pull late and not fumble (which King later did but recovered). If the defense is smart, they have a LB or safety waiting here if King does pull, but NCSU doesn’t.

How do you counter this mesh charge defensive adjustment?

Above- with a slip RPO. Miami has thankfully ran more split zone and it frees up a slip RPO or a play-action boot off of split zone. Either way the H winds up in the flat off of a run action. Here it’s an RPO. King is reading that stand up rusher. If that rusher plays the mesh, King throws, if he plays the flat, King gives to the RB.

The offensive line did good but not great. They gave up two sacks, two hurries, and five tackles for loss. Against an aggressive NCSU 3-3-5 defense it could’ve been a lot worse but Rhett Lashlee dialed up some three step smash and fade concepts to get the ball out quicker than the past weeks.

The defense

Blake Baker’s defense gave up over 500 yards, four touchdowns, and two field goals on Friday night. NCSU back up QB Bailey Hockman, the third QB for the Pack this season, averaged 8.9 yards per attempt, threw two TD’s, caught a 31 yard screen for a TD, and had the Pack up 10 before stalling out and giving up 13 points in the 4th quarter. Since 2016, Diaz’s defense has struggled against the most unlikely of quarterbacks and Hockman is just another to add to the list.

Above- you can see a lack of discipline defensively. That DE in the blue circle should be ‘slow playing’ that jet sweep worried about counter-boot-reverse. Instead he completely turns his shoulders and chases the thing. He’s not a squeeze player unless the back side inside linebacker is the one that’s completely off. Both of those players should’ve hung back for CBR but instead chase the play.

Above- You can see what chasing did here, it left Al Blades Jr and Bubba Bolden in a bad way against some athletic offensive linemen. Blades’ job here is to cut down on them both, causing a pile. Instead he plays it safe. Bolden just gets annihilated which really is karma for his style of play. What goes around does come back around on the football field. That is O-Line adult entertainment.

Above- Miami has three down linemen and brings five and a half man pressure leaving the cornerbacks in 1-on-1 situations. Ivey is all over his man but never plays the WR’s arms or the ball and Bolden can’t rotate over in time from the middle of the field. Ivey jams the guy and gets him outside, which is great technique, but then loses his movement pattern and can’t make a play.

Above- Jared Harrison-Hunte needs to be on some freshman watch lists. This guy seems to make a play, or lead to someone else making a play, every time he’s on the field.

NCSU didn’t just throw the ball around on Miami’s once vaunted defense, they also ran for 131 yards and a score. Miami ended the game with two sacks, six TFL’s, and three hurries but most of the penalty yards in the game were on the Diaz-Baker side of the ball.

Above- Miami outflanks itself with four over three to the trips. The nub side has a TE inline, and the force player (orange circle) runs himself up field and out of the play. If he’s the guy setting the edge with no CB out there he has to play a post and hold sort of technique to stay about a yard deep of the LOS while controlling that TE.

Above- Bolden is slow to react. This causes him to have to sprint full speed versus work at 80% rotation to make a clean play. He’s off balance (why are so many teams to bad at moving?) and Ricky Person Jr. just outraces him to the sideline. If there was a CB out there, I feel like Bolden could spill this like he does (play inside-out) but with him now as the outside force he has to turn this back in (outside-in).

Above- the defense isn’t lined up right and Blades wanted nothing to do with contact from the opening whistle.

The final two drives saw less three man fronts, and resulted in a turnover as DJ Ivey intercepted a Hockman pass to seal off the win. Fans on the social media were speculating Diaz took over for Baker... I have no idea but something changed when the game was on the line.

Above- in crunch time Miami goes with four down linemen, rushes only four, drops seven and there’s interior pressure and a lot of guys around the football. Why can’t they just do that every time? Play sound football and stop blitzing to cover up poor teaching technique and poor scheme?


In order to win the ACC, Miami has to get things cleaned up as a coaching staff. Penalties, poor technique, dropped balls, the lack of a consistent running game, the punt return issues, giving up a KOR for a TD, and the sloppy defensive play that resulted in 400-plus yards and 34 points (not counting the kicking game TD)... Miami won’t be more than an average team (think: 2017) until these issues are fixed.

If Clemson beats Notre Dame on Saturday, November 7th, Miami can sneak back into the ACC Championship Game contention if The U takes care of business against Virginia Tech at Blacksburg, as well as Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and UNC. Don’t count out the Hokies as they’re always up for Miami, nor the Jackets, Deacons or Tar Heels. GT and Wake should be easy wins, but UNC has the offense to go point-for-point with Miami.

Enjoy the win, have fun this weekend watching everyone else sweat it out. Root against Florida and Notre Dame. On to the next one.