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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: North Carolina State Wolfpack edition

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We’re back after a week off from this feature for the first time in a decade (my bad, guys). Let’s dissect the action and talk about the Canes.

NC State v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

WELL WELL WELL!!!

The Miami Hurricanes rallied the troops and emerged with a 31-30 win over the #18 NC State Wolfpack at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday Night.

Carl Bleich left his luxury suite for the first time this season, and chimed in with BOTH the recap and 3 stars.

And now, for the first time after a win over a P5 team in 323 days, let’s get into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good

  • A WIN!!! WIINNING IS GREAT! I MISSED THIS FEELING!!! WOW!! INCREDIBLE!!!
  • BEATING A RANKED TEAM!!!! WE CAN DO IT!!! AND WE DID!!!!!
  • Miami came out with a vengeance. Forced multiple 3 and outs on defense. Scored a touchdown on the first offensive possession. They took the fight to the opponent at the start of the game for once. Which you love to see.
  • Miami was PREPARED and CONFIEDENT and played like it tonight. Both off the top of the day and after halftime. Been begging for this kind of performance, coming out aggressive and dictating the flow of the game, for a while. And it finally came. And it was great to see.
  • QB Tyler Van Dyke. He talked his noise this week, saying NCSU could be had through the air, and he back it up like a BOSS! 25-33 passing for 325 yards with 4 TDs and 0 INTs, to go along with 9 carries for 8 yards (more if you remove the sack yardage). A damn good game and a win. Salute.
  • Van Dyke had 4 TDs on the day, but the best throw of the game was a late 3rd and 14 with just over 2 minutes left in the game. Van Dyke hit TE Will Mallory over the middle of a stunned and confused NC State defense for a big gain and a huge 3rd down conversion which would allow Miami to run out the clock for the win. Hell yeah!
  • S James Williams. He’s every bit the 5-star superstar talent he was made out to be as a recruit, and he’s been a joy to watch. 4 tackles and a PBU were the stats, but I think they vultured a couple of his tackles off the stat sheet because big 0 was EVERYWHERE on defense tonight. He got at least 3 hits on the QB. He was setting the edge in run defense. He was everywhere and it was awesome to see.
  • S Kamren Kinchens. NC State went for it on 4th and 8 with just over 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter. And the Wolfpack completed a pass. But Kinchens’s sure tackle ended the play dead on the spot, short of the conversion, and gave Miami the ball back for the final time. Great play!
  • WR Charleston Rambo. TVD didn’t get those gaudy stats by throwing to himself. For the most part, his connection with Rambo was the driving force for the Canes’ offense. 9 catches for 127 yards and 2 TDs for the Oklahoma transfer.
  • RB Jaylan Knighton. It wasn’t a great day rushing, but it was enough. Plus, Knighton’s electric ability as a pass-catcher paid off huge. 21 carries for 83 yards and 6 catches for 83 yards and a TD. Bravo, sir.
  • P Lou Hedley keeps on keepin’ on. 7 punts for a 48.1 yard average and got Miami out of some bad field position disadvantages.
  • S Avantae Williams. Fresh off his 6 game suspension, the talented super freshman made his career debut tonight. Williams didn’t record any stats, but he played on specials and had a role in specific packages on base defense. This is only the beginning, but I’m glad to have him on the field, finally.
  • Continuing the youth movement. PLENTY of young guys played today. James Williams, Kam Kinchens, Leonard Taylor, Avantae Williams, Cody Brown, Romello Brinson, Jacolby George, Elijah Arroyo, and more.
  • A key change with new players was the CB2 position, where Marcus Clarke and Isaiah Dunson split reps on the opposite side from Tyrique Stevenson.
  • Really did a great job killing NCSU’s run game. Absent 1 breakdown on a fake punt, Miami allowed 70 yards on 17 carries — 4.1 yards per carry. That’s real good. And it took NCSU out of their gameplan, which is even better.
  • 8 chunk plays — 7 passes (15+), 1 run (10+)
  • 18 first downs
  • 6-17 on 3rd down. Not a great raw number but when you consider that NCSU was the stingiest 3rd down defense in the country coming into the game at 25.29% conversions allowed, that number looks a lot better.
  • 1-1 on 4th down, which happened to be the 53 yard TD wheel route from Van Dyke to Knighton.
  • 0 turnovers!
  • 4 TFLs (but I swear it was more, especially considering how committed to the run NCSU was and how Miami stifled that completely).
  • 1 sack — Bubba Bolden
  • Multiple QB hits
  • 4 PBU
  • 7 QB hurries
  • 13 yards per completion
  • 6 yards per offensive play
  • 420 yards of offense
  • 31:30 time of possession — 1st time winning the TOP in a WHILE
  • A win over a ranked team. Before today, it was against Louisville last year. And before that it was the 2017 destruction of Notre Dame. A step in the right direction.

The Bad

  • 3 fumbles. IDK how in the WORLD we didn’t lose any of them, but hey, whatever works.
  • Allowed 12.9 yards per completion
  • Allowed 6.6 yards per play
  • Allowed 18 first downs
  • Allowed 4-4 in the red zone; BUT there was a FG or 2 in there so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
  • Allowed 4 sacks
  • Allowed 9 TFLs
  • No turnovers forced. You want to have one or more of these, and it would have maybe made this game more lopsided in Miami’s favor.

The Ugly

  • More missed tackles. Fewer than previous weeks, but still more than you want to see.
  • S Bubba Bolden. IDK what in the world has happened to him. He went from arguably the best defensive player in the country after the Louisville game last year to a lackluster, lazy, low performing player such as we’re seeing now. Bolden missed 4 tackles today and blew a coverage so bad that it was compared to early-career Robert Knowles or Nantambu-Akil Fentress. If we’re taking other low performing players out of the rotation, it’s time (or past time) to consider it or take the same action with Bolden.
  • Allowed a 40 yard run on a fake punt for a big conversion that led to an NCSU score. That’s ATROCIOUS.
  • A PR by Jacolby George that was fumbled TWICE and recovered by NCSU. Luckily, offsetting penalties negated that turnover, but that’s quite poor. You cannot have things like that. Fix it.
  • Additionally, does George not know the rule “plant your heels at the 10 and if the ball goes over your head let it go?” as a punt returner? Because he fair caught a ball on the 6, and the twice-fumbled return started at the 8, I think. Be better about your choices back there, my good sir.
  • CB Isaiah Dunson. He failed to carry his receiver up the field in zone (which is man until it’s not) and gave up a long completion. Then, later in the game, just got ran by as a NCSU receiver went for 44 yards up the sideline over his head for ANOTHER long play. Look, I’m fine with playing other guys than the ones we’ve previously seen (like DJ Ivey in this instance) but the performance by the replacement leaves much to be desired.
  • Plenty of bad run fits on defense, mostly from the linebackers. BUT, the defense was so keyed up to stop the run there were other players around to make up for some of those mistakes. But what happens the next time when another team spreads the defense out and the other defenders aren’t a step away?
  • Penalties. 9 for 66 yards, and that’s not even counting several declined or offsetting penalties. Got lucky to get out with a win tonight, but this can, has, and will cost Miami games if it isn’t fixed.
  • The Refs. They were ATROCIOUS tonight. Calling bullshit on Miami. Not calling holding or much of anything else on NCSU. Made like 6 reviews to start 2H. Like, what are y’all doing?! Be better.
  • Allowed more than 400 yards of offense at 6.6 yards per play. Old school or new school stats will tell you that’s not good enough.
  • The failings in the red zone/finishing drives. There were a couple few times that Miami was unable to convert 3rd and short, and the play calls that were drawn up in those times were not great. Need better.
  • And, that’s underscored even more by things like a PERFECT play call on 4th and 2 for a delayed wheel route to Knighton for a TD. You call THAT in that space, but other times you call......not great stuff? Do better, Lashlee.

Team Grades

Offense: B

Tyler Van Dyke was a boss tonight. Charleston Rambo and Jaylan Knighton supported him by making big play after big play. The OL was pretty decent, but the run game suffered from a lack of push. Drives stalled in some instances by just getting shut down by NCSU and you want to see more consitent movement of the ball, and better drive finishing as well. But, this was a CLEAR step forward, so credit for that.

Defense: B

Without a huge fake punt accounting for nearly half of their rushing yards allowed (which really isn’t on them), Miami’s defense was a fast, tough, swarming unit tonight. There were some coverage breakdowns by Bolden and Dunson, and a bit of the bad tackling of the past reared its ugly head. But, overall, this was a game the defense should be proud of, and the performance of the young players on the unit — namely James Williams, Kamren Kinchens, and Leonard Taylor — showed just what this defense can be when they’re dialed in.

Special Teams: F

Kicking was good. 1/1 on FG and 4/4 on XP. Punting was outstanding as usual. But the punt return unit was terrible with multiple penalties and the aforementioned double-fumble punt was terrible. AND the fake punt you let NCSU convert for 40 yards? How are you not on punt safe alert there?! Again, 4 of the 6 special teams (kick return, punt return, punt coverage, kick coverage) were bad to horrible. Fire Patke off specials. Please GOD.

Coaching: Fireable / C+

I’m on record as being done with Diaz so I just wanted to remind y’all of that up front. The job he’s done is rife with fireable offenses, and today doesn’t change that.

With that being said, today was much better! The team came out strong from the locker room to start the game and at half. And, throughout the game, the coaching kept Miami in a place to win the game, and got the players to perform to that level and earn the win.

Now, there was the TERRIBLE timeout before halftime, which cost Miami a touchdown in the end. There’s no reason to call a timeout when the opponent has none and was tackled in-bounds. That’s just stupid. Some of the playcalling in short yardage situations was also poor.

But, overall, this was a damn sight better than what we’d seen from Miami’s coaches in a good long time. Does the result affect the evaluation? Yes. Absolutely. But the process was clearly better from the beginning as well.

Don’t get me wrong: Manny Diaz still needs to be fired. But tonight isn’t a game that you’ll use in that conversation. This was good, for once.


That’s it for this installment of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Sorry about the one week off last week (the only week we’ve missed in like 12 years but I digress). But we’re back so hop in the comments and share your thoughts as well.

Go Canes