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Film Preview: Miami vs. Oklahoma State, Cheez-It Bowl, 12/29

The ‘Canes land a disappointing bowl named after a meh snack choice to wrap up the 2020 season.

Texas v Oklahoma State Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes will face off against the Oklahoma State Cowboys on December 29th in the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando, FL. The Hurricanes go bowling in Orlando before the new year far too often in recent history, and are winless in their last three appearances in a bowl located in the city of Mickey and Minnie.

OSU comes into the game with a 7-3 record and without Chuba Hubbard. With both team seeing stars opt-out of the bowl and declare early, plus COVID, et al- I’ll focus more on scheme here than players and matchups. The Cowboys have averaged a paltry 29.5 points per game in 2020, good for 58th of 127 in FBS. The OSU defense, however, has given up only 22.4 PPG on the season (32nd of 127).

The 8-2 Hurricanes, have scored 34 points per game (27th of 127) but have allowed 26 PPG (44th of 127) on the season. While Miami QB’s have thrown 23 TD’s and only 6 interceptions, OSU’s have a ratio of 14:10. That’s not great for the Cowboys. OSU has a strong running game, with or without Hubbard, and have played great “havoc” ball behind the line of scrimmage.

The OSU Offense

Sean Gleeson was in and out in a year after being offered the chance to return home to New Jersey and work with Greg Schiano at Rutgers. Rutgers saw immediate improvement all around in Year One of the Schiano Era while the OSU offense has taken a step back under longtime Mike Gundy assistant Kasey Dunn.

Dunn is a fantastic WR coach (one of the best up there with Urban Meyer and Gunter Brewer) and and this is his first season as an OC in his 27 years as a football coach. Adjusting to calling an offense takes time.

Above- OSU runs a simple outside zone / stretch type of play. Sometimes it pays to have great Jimmy’s and Joe’s. But they do get this thing blocked up and the back has a nice hip swivel to shake the defender and pick up a first down.

Above- A quick diagram of shallow cross, which I’m pretty sure the GIF below is an example of. The cross between the WR’s is too loose to be mesh. Once the TCU pressure gets to the QB, he scrambles and finds the shallow open in the flat.

Above- With guys like Zach McCloud and Bradley Jennings on the field, this has to be a concern. I saw some good things from Waynmon Steed on tape, but also he ignores the flat, too. I’m not sure if this is poor communication, scheme, Football IQ... without knowing what’s called it’s hard to tell.

Above- the more I watch of Dunn’s offense the more I can see where if they have time the safety valves in the flats (RB’s, H/TE’s) are going to pose an issue for Miami. The Diaz-Baker scheme has been suspect against crossing routes and in the flats since arriving in Coral Gables.

With how poor Miami tackles against teams with a pulse it could be a real issue if big plays are broken on bad angles and missed tackles from Amari Carter and Bubba Bolden.

Above- Miami can’t give OSU time to climb the pocket. Gary Patterson is 10 times the DC that Manny Diaz is. If he gets smoked here then Miami is surely going to get burned, especially with how poor the defensive back play has been all season.

The OSU Defense

Above- OSU is lined up in a standard 4-2-5, two high safety look. Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles is a coaching veteran. He’s been around the game for more than 30 years including time as Cornell’s head coach, and years at Duke and now OSU as a DC.

Knowles has been chopping away in Stillwater turning the Cowboys defense into a force from an ‘also ran’ type of squad. He did the same work at Duke where the Blue Devils made five bowl appearances in six years, what I’ll assume to be a Duke record.

The OSU defense is big on ‘havoc’ numbers, much like Manny Diaz is. They try to get tackles for loss, sacks, PBU’s and fumbles. Above, a simple counter turns into a big turnover for OSU coming off the strip.

Above- you can see the OSU linebacker waits to bring pressure until the back stays in for protection. Many DC’s are using this technique. The LB assigned to the back will blitz once the back stays in. Rhett Lashlee and D’Eriq King are going to have to know that’s coming, and either release a back late over the middle (OTB in the Mike Leach offense) or dial up a RB middle screen.

Above is a diagram of a “Pass-Screen Option” (click here to read more) which is growing in popularity around college football. The QB will read the LB covering the H’s stick concept. If the LB covers stick, the QB flips back and throws the screen pass to the RB.

Above- Knowles pulls a Baker and gives up 2nd and 19 like it’s nothing. Mike Harley and Brevin Jordan (he’s still playing, right?) need to ball out and show why they’re NFL Draft worthy players.

Red Zone

Above- you can see TCU line up and run a simple zone blocking scheme where the RB should insert and pick up an ILB (he doesn’t) and the QB can walk right in. This type of stuff works really well if you motion to quads (four WR’s on the same side) and see how the defense rotates.

Above- Many DC’s will over-align to trips, and then really over rotate to quads. Your job is to then pull down and hope your RB will lead block better and a solid, mobile type like King can power into the end zone. If they don’t rotate the play has to have a built in screen or pick to the quads side.


Should Miami win this football game? I certainly believe so. But Mike Gundy is in his 16th season as a head football coach, including coaching in his 15th straight bowl game. The man hasn’t had a losing season since Year One back in 2005 when OSU finished 4-7. Since then, the second tier program in the state of Oklahoma, has picked up six double-digit win seasons even though Gundy’s staff has been raided time and time again.

Gundy, a former OSU quarterback, is 136-67 overall as the head football coach. The Oklahoma native has spent all but five seasons of his 30 year coaching career in Stillwater, and he’s 9-5 in bowl games. Across the field, Manny Diaz is a second year head coach, 0-1 in bowl games, and his defense looked completely uninterested in the Pinstripe Bowl as Diaz was exiting to Temple (lol).

Both squads are having to watch their starting players begin their focus on the NFL Draft. Neither will enter this meaningless (re making money or being in the spotlight, playing completely crappy football does mean something for 2021) bowl game at full speed, and the most disciplined coach will win this thing, and that’s Mike Gundy. The Cheez-It Bowl will be about focus, and Gundy will have his group ready.

Prediction: Oklahoma State by 5.