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Film Review: Oklahoma State 37 - Miami 34

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‘Canes drop the Cheez-It Bowl to the Cowboys.

Georgia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes suffered another bowl loss, this time to the Oklahoma State Cowboys by a final score of 37-34. Much bigger than losing the Cheez-It Bowl (and boy, was it cheesy) was losing D’Eriq King to an apparent knee injury during the first half. Unlike ESPN, I have empathy and don’t intend to show it again, and again, again. Much like the bowl game’s namesake- the ‘Canes 2020 season was cheap and left a bad aftertaste.

The Hurricanes finished the night 4-of-14 on 3rd downs, having turned the ball over twice and committing eight penalties for 76 yards. One of the turnovers was a N’Kosi Perry mesh issue on a handoff, the other was once again a muffed punt return. Something has to give with the special teams coordinator as the kick and punt return woes have plagued Miami all season, and even dates back to 2019 before K.J. Osborn took over the role from Jeff Thomas.

The Hurricanes have won only one single bowl game since 2006, the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl in Mark Richt’s first season back in Coral Gables. Manny Diaz is 1-4 during bowl season in orange and green, including 0-2 as the ‘Canes head football coach. Non-NY6 or College Football Playoff bowl games are pointless, and should be a time to punctuate the last season and get moving towards the next season in a positive light.


The offense

D’Eriq King is injured, and injured badly enough to require a straight leg knee brace and two crutches to stand on the sideline for the second half. Before being injured, King was 10-of-13 passing for 8.7 yards per attempt and a touchdown. I hope he’s back in nine months for Alabama but the odds aren’t great.

Above- The ‘Canes inability to hit a wide open receiver in stride is frustrating. This is potentially a touchdown that turns into just a big 1st down because Jordan has to turn back to the ball.

After King’s injury, N’Kosi Perry came in to get work heading into the 2021 season and a showdown with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Perry might have had his best day throwing the ball from an accuracy and timing standpoint but was plagued by drops, and a lazy effort on a handoff mesh. He finished up averaging 6.7 yards per attempt with two scores and putting the stamp on it that he cannot run the football.

Mike Harley hauled in a TD, but averaged a whopping 8.6 yards per catch. Brevin Jordan, who caught two touchdowns, had a key drop in a big time situation. Dee Wiggins and Mark Pope looked like they were practically pushing the football away from themselves. Yet, in pivotal situations, who did the coaching staff run onto the field? Remember the adage ‘you either coach it or you allow it?’ well...

Above- Down 21, Lashlee dials up a nice drive and this whip-post combo to the bottom of the screen does a great job of giving Jordan space to catch the football and King delivers out in front of him.

The Hurricanes didn’t have a great day on the ground rushing with consistency. They relied once again on Cam’Ron Harris and Donald Chaney to have one explosive carry, followed by a bunch of three yard runs. The offensive line gave up one sack, five tackles for loss, and five hurries to a good but not great OSU defense.

Above- Counter to Chaney, it takes Mallory forever to get out of his stance, which is why you see Chaney having to shove him through the hole.

Above- I’m a huge fan of split zone. I’m also a fan of seeing Jordan FINALLY as the h-back on the play aka the kick out guy. He does a great job of seeing that there’s no block at the LOS and working up to the 2nd level. It potentially turns this from a big play to a TD.

Above- Eye discipline. The Cowboys lack of it on defense became Miami’s advantage on this fake QB draw, h-seam concept Lashlee has dialed up every couple of weeks throughout the season.

The Hurricanes are going to have to find a way to protect the QB and get the running game going with King coming off of an injury and Perry unable to run the football with any real promise. King saved many drives with his scrambling ability that may not be all the way there if he can play, and is not there at all with Perry at QB.


The defense

Oklahoma State came into the Cheez-It Bowl (I’m going to continue to type the name of the bowl so you have to suffer through how far the program has fallen, because I laughed in agony every time the TV jabronis said it) scoring only 29.5 points per game. They had the 58th ranked offense in the country.

OSU left Orlando with a 300 yard and four touchdown performance from Spencer Sanders, and a three touchdown and 19.7 yard per catch performance from freshman Brennan Pressley.

Above- This is simply about Keonta Smith not understanding he’s responsible for tracking this player, and not anything else. He’s blatantly in man coverage. Why aren’t you marking your man?

The OSU offense was without star running back Chuba Hubbard, and only had the services of wide receiver Tylan Wallace for a half. The Miami defense came away with two sacks, nine TFL’s, and three hurries. The ‘Canes were without Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche but nine other regular starters were on the field for Miami. Next man up, right?

Above- Miami does a terrible job on defense of a few things:

1- Schematically, they tip what they’re going to do really early before the snap. If an OC works a double count, they’ll see exactly what the Baker-Diaz defense is going to do.

2- Miami fails to run fit with their safety. This leaves massive gaps in the defense at the second level, and a safety just standing around at times 20 yards deep covering nothing.

3- Pursuit angles. Jennings has the RB beat and some how winds up behind him. Gurvan Hall does the same at safety. It happens all over the field for the Miami defense. Phillips notoriously would run 7-8 yards deep and chase a play from behind, because “he’s got a motor, dammit!”

4- Tackling. Miami is horrendous at tackling. I will be writing an entire piece on it this off-season.

Above- you can see the poor run fits, pursuit angles, and tackling form in this GIF. It’s just not being taught within the program where the defensive philosophy is to blitz instead of teach fundamentals.

Above- you can see the poor tackling from (Everybody Loves) Waynmon Steed. Well, at least every opposing ball carrier loves him. Steed hesitates as he meets the back in the hole, fails to run his feet, and slides off the tackle. He strikes high, and then doesn’t swing his hips through or drive for five.

Above- If you can tell me what Bolden is doing here, please comment below. Most of my comments are quotes of strange poetry or some weird fact about the 1968 Dog Catcher election in St. Paul, MN- so actual football discussion would be appreciated.


Summary

There is so much about the Miami program that needs to be cleaned up it’s ridiculous. Please stop mentioning Ed Reed, it just makes you sound like a clueless fan. If the defensive backs are coming over to him for help, he must be speaking in Greek.

Coach Diaz is going to have to commit to excellence in all facets of the game, and that means some of his defensive staff has to go. He did it with ease to the offensive staff, TWICE, now it’s time to figure out an answer on defense. Giving up 37 to Oklahoma State is unacceptable. That’s nearly 10 points more than they were averaging per game, in a conference that plays no defense.

Miami is terrible at moving. Will Mallory was caught from behind, defenders run out of control, Mallory couldn’t get out of his stance without the loss of a second (remember, a football play averages about 5 seconds, so 1 second is a long time). Much of this poor movement leads to drops, injuries, bad pursuit angles, and poor tackling.

Let’s hope we hear less about bench and squat maxes and 300’s and 110’s and more about individualized programming, speed work, visual-cognitive-motor work, and bar speed. Miami needs an overhaul in philosophy, I hope Diaz is ready to make that type of commitment.