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

The wheels haven’t yet fully come off, but there are some screws loose and they’re getting wobbly.

NCAA Football: Virginia at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Well. Here we are again, Canes fam.

After falling well behind early in the game, Miami rallied for a late FG attempt to try and snatch victory from the hands of defeat in a game they never led. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out the way Miami wanted, and the Canes lost to Virginia 30-28 on Thursday night.

I had your Game Recap

Kevin Fielder chimed in with his 3 stars

And, since I’m writing this the day after the game, Justin Dottavio has already penned his video review.

With all of that already being said, let’s hop into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good

  • P Louis Hedley’s punting. His first punt was 62 yards, and the performance kept going from there. He ended with 8 punts for 385 yards — a 48.1 per punt average — with 3 kicks going 50+ and 3 ending inside the Virginia 20. A bright spot among the darkness.
  • He left the game with an injury, but while he was on the field CB Tyrique Stevenson was busting heads. Check out this hit, which was one of several he dished out on the night.
  • RB Cam’Ron Harris. 14 carries for 111 yards and 2 TDs, highlighted by a 57 yard TD that helped Miami try to mount a comeback against the Cavs. This was Harris’s 2nd consecutive 100 yard rushing game.
  • QB Tyler Van Dyke in the 2nd half. In the first half, it was rough going for the super freshman starting QB. But in the second stanza of the game, TVD got things going. He completed 10 of his final 12 throws of the day, and that helped Miami’s offense get moving a bit, finally. There was still plenty to be desired from TVD’s performance, which we’ll talk about later.
  • Overall, Van Dyke was 15 for 29 passing for 203 yards with 1 TD and 0 INTs, and added a 24 yard touchdown run for good measure.
  • The way the youngsters continued to flash their talent. Whether it was James Williams or Marcus Clarke or Tyler Van Dyke or Leonard Taylor — who REALLY stepped up big in extended game action last night — there was a lot to like from what the young kids on the roster provided on the field.
  • The return of Jaylan Knighton. He’s fast and shifty, and it was great to get him back on the field. He was close to breaking LONG touchdown runs a couple few times, only to be caught by a shoestring. He’s gonna break one of those soon. Trust me on that.
  • The 2nd half, mainly the 4th quarter. Miami outscored Virginia in 2H, and the 4th quarter was something that Manny Diaz incessantly referenced as having the effort and performance to deserve victory. Trite as it may sound, I actually agree. That was fun to watch, a Miami team that played hard and cared, and rose to the occasion. So, good-ish, i guess.
  • 8 TFLs
  • 3 sacks
  • 4 PBU
  • 1 defensive interception (Flagg Jr.)
  • the fact that we tried some different/creative things with the expanded player rotation on offense. It didn’t always work, but there was a measure of variety at times that I think the offense sorely needed.
  • 1-1 on 4th down
  • 13.5 yards per completion
  • 5.5 yards per play on offense
  • Relative offensive balance: 203 yards passing, 169 yards rushing
  • 10 chunk plays — 6 passes (15+) and 4 rushes (10+)

The Bad

  • Losing.
  • Losing to Virginia.
  • More penalty issues. 8 for 69 yards tonight.
  • Not being prepared for the game. AGAIN.
  • Allowed 34+ minutes time of possession
  • Allowed 10.7 yards per completion
  • Allowed 5.7 yards per rush

The Ugly

  • Losing. To. Virginia. I HATE IT!
  • No seriously, Virginia. A team that was 0-2 in the league and had just gotten their doors blown off the last couple times out against decent competition. But playing Miami is the cure for whatever ails an opposing team. I really, truly hate it here.
  • Coming into the game, Virginia had allowed 15 scores in the last 16 defensive possession that were not kneel down/time waster drives. When the opposition wanted to score, they scored at will. So OF COURSE Miami has an offensive 3 and out on the first drive.
  • And, continuing that further, Miami didn’t score on their first 5 offensive drives. I’m sure that’s a record for futility against this porous Virginia defense. Atrocious.
  • On the flip side of Diaz’s statements — which were correct, by the way — that the effort in the 4th quarter deserved victory, WHY DID IT TAKE INTO THE 4TH QUARTER TO PLAY LIKE THAT!?!??!!?
  • Why is this team NEVER prepared to start a game? Manny Diaz coached teams are 11-0 when leading after the 1st quarter, but after tonight they are 5-13 when being tied or trailing after 1Q. And that 11-0 number includes the FCS and G5 opponents Miami has faced with Diaz as the coach. So it’s a bit inflated because the real standard should be competition against P5 opponents at a minimum.
  • SPEAKING OF Miami’s performance against P5 opponents, I turn to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. I mean, what else is there to say past this?
  • So you’re telling me not even Al Golden drove away fans like this? Oh. Okay. Cool.
  • not attempting a run on the 1st series. UVa’s run defense is among the worst in the Country. 126th Nationally entering last night’s game. What are we DOING?!
  • I wrote about this celebration thing in today’s Storm Center. I hate it.
  • Sigh. Just not good enough. Marcus Clarke had his hands on an interception, but, well, you’ve seen the play by now.
  • 5-15 on 3rd downs. This has been an issue for the Canes for more than a decade now. It’s a miracle the Canes were even in this game. The offense has to be better staying on the field. And this was definitely the team that should have happened against, with the defense they displayed throughout this season.
  • Again, PENALTIES. 8 for 69, with several being very impactful. That’s just not good enough.
  • Oh, and there were a couple that went uncalled. Like the targeting on Gurvan Hall on Virginia’s last drive that was 100% targeting and somehow......not called by the refs? I mean, thanks, but the underlying act is still terrible and needs to be fixed.
  • More drops. Most notably Will Mallory and Romello Brinson, but they weren’t alone in dropping balls that should have been caught. With a young QB, you gotta help him out. AND, as a receiver, your job title is LITERALLY to catch the ball when thrown to you. SO CATCH THE DAMN BALL!!!!
  • Allowed 28 first downs.
  • Allowed 15 chunk plays — 8 passes (15+), 7 runs (10+)
  • I like the wrinkle of bringing in Brashard Smith to be a multifaceted offensive weapon as a runner and receiver. However, we keep running the same 2 plays with him on the field, and that lack of offensive diversity has become easy for opposing teams to key on.
  • Under 400 yards of offense against a defense that had been getting lapped by every opponent they’d previously faced.
  • More injuries. Tyrique Stevenson left the game in the 2nd or 3rd quarter and didn’t return. And, yanno, King, Garcia, Harrison-Hunte, Miller, and Carter all missing the game with injuries too. So that’s fun.
  • And now, the coup de grace: doink. Need I say more?

Team Grades

Offense: D

Virginia’s defense was about as resistance as wet toilet paper this season, but Miami’s performance looked like they were going up against the best defense in the world. Tyler Van Dyke struggled early and barely completed 50% of his passes in the end. The run game was better (shocking), but the OL still has issues. And the penalties. And the drops. Remember when OC Rhett Lashlee coordinated fun and DYNAMIC offenses elsewhere? Need that guy to find his footing here, and soon.

Defense: C-

Some bright moments, and some struggles. Another bad angle taken by Gurvan Hall in a big spot, but hey, what else is new? And tons more missed tackles. Sure, there were some TFLs and sacks, an interception and 3 more “almost” interceptions. But even with some good plays, there were enough bad plays to cost Miami the game.

Special Teams: F

Louis Hedley is the best punter in America. Tyrique Stevenson had a nice punt return. But multiple bad decisions in the PR game — namely NOT stepping up to make some fair catches, including the punt that ended up downed at the 1 prior to Miami giving up a Safety — and a muffed punt will bring this grade down. The coverage units were surprisingly solid this week, so that’s a welcomed change.

But in the end, Miami had a short FG dead center of the field for the win and the Kicker missed it. Even with other things being solid, that gives this group a failing grade overall. Sorry guys.

Coaching: Even More Fireable Than Before

Things keep getting worse on the field, and things keep getting worse for the coach, and his staff.

Miami is 0-5 in their last 5 games against P5 competition.

Miami is NEVER prepared to start a game.

Miami BARELY squeaked by the other FBS competition they faced this year — Appalachian State.

We can talk scheme. We can talk motivational tactics. We can talk player deployment and usage. We can talk game management. We can talk substitution patterns. We can talk about a lot of things with coaching.

But, just as I said after getting punked by Michigan State in our own building, I’m done with Manny Diaz as head coach. This game, and the result, are but another data point to add to the growing list of things that will be mentioned when Miami inevitably fires him. Won’t be today, but that day is coming. And based upon the effort, lack of preparedness, and performance of the Canes I’ve seen under Diaz’s watch, that can’t come soon enough for me.

Thanks for bearing with me for a bit of a later posting than normal. I was exhausted last night, I apologize.

Anyways, those are my thoughts for this week’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Hop in the comments and share yours. I’m sure you have LOTS to say at this point.

Go Canes