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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Pittsburgh Panthers edition

The Canes went on the road and earned a HUGE win at Pitt. Let’s dissect the action.

NCAA Football: Miami at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Well, well, well! Look how the turn tables!

Your Miami Hurricanes went on the road to face the #17 Pittsburgh Panthers, and emerged with a hard fought 38-34 victory, which both boosted their ACC record to 2-2 and gave Pitt their first league loss of the year.

Again at home and not in a luxury skybox somewhere, Carl Bleich pulled double duty with your game recap and 3 stars. You can see them both here:

And now, let’s dive into the latest edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly...

The Good

  • A win! Winning is good! I like winning! WE SHOULD KEEP DOING THE WINNING THING!!!!
  • A win over another ranked team. Last week, it was #18 NC State. This week, #17 Pitt.
  • A win over a ranked team ON THE ROAD. That’s huge.
  • Beating Pitt, who entered the game 3-0 in conference. You wanna have a chance to win the Coastal, this was a must-win game for Miami. And they did.
  • QB Tyler Van Dyke. Gotta start with Miami’s burgeoning superstar QB. Another incredible performance from him today. I’m still partial to Jake Garcia but uh.......TVD is looking like THAT DUDE right now. And I’m with it 100%.
  • Freshman TE Elijah Arroyo got Miami on the board with his first career TD to tie the game at 7 early.
  • Not to be outdone by his understudy, starting TE Will Mallory scooted 57 yards untouched on a double reverse flea flicker to put Miami up 14-7 midway through the first quarter.
  • The offense’s quick start. 21 quick points on the first 3 drives of the game, which totaled fewer than 3 minutes time of possession. This is what we’ve been wanting to see for so long. And having seen it, now you know where the frustration that we hadn’t seen it at any time other than the FCS buy games the last 2 years was so damn frustrating.
  • Offensive creativity and execution. Double reverse flea flickers. Regular flea flickers. RPOs. Double moves. Vertical throws. Quick screens. Bubble screens. Inside runs. Jet sweep/touch passes. Miami’s offense did a lot of different things, and did them well, for the most part. Sure, there were stumbles along the way, but THIS is what the offense should look like.
  • Okay. Another TVD note. This throw is stupid. He’s really, really good, you guys.
  • The offensive line. TVD was sacked a couple times, but those were more on him holding the ball that the OL simply breaking down. The run game had just enough room to operate and big plays start up front. Great job today, guys.
  • RB Jaylan Knighton. 17 carries for 80 yards and 2 TDs, and 5 catches for 11 yards. Pitt clearly focused on not letting his pass catching beat them, but he was still one of the stars for Miami on the day.
  • WRs Charleston Rambo, Xavier Restrepo, Keyshawn Smith, and Mike Harley. They, along with the aforementioned TEs Will Mallory and Elijah Arroyo, helped Miami move the ball up and down the filed nearly at will, and put 38 points on the board. Each player made at least 2-3 big catches today, and Smith had the TD of the group.
  • S James Williams. 9 tackles and what wound up being the game-winning interception on Pitt’s last offensive possession. He’s a superstar already and just starting to scratch the surface of his immense talent.
  • S Kamren Kinchens. 4 tackles, a TFL, and a PBU. He also made other plays, like correctly diagnosing a throwback to the QB and racing to cover the open player, and in doing so kept Pitt from having an easy walk-in touchdown. He, like Williams, is only beginning to realize his immense potential.
  • DE Zach McCloud. 3 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 1.5 TFL. Easily the best game he’s played at his new position.
  • CB Tyrique Stevenson. 2 tackles, a PBU, and an interception. Pitt was wise to pick on other defenders on the day bc Stevenson was lockdown all day long.
  • Miami’s run defense overall. Sure, Pitt’s backs went for 13 carries for 79 yards (6.07 yards per carry), but it didn’t feel like that. Miami was able to stop them from running just enough to dissuade them from continuing to do that, and the lopsided score for the majority of the first half put Pitt in “must throw” mode. I’ll take it.
  • 31 first half points. THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!
  • 8 TFL
  • 4 sack
  • 7 QB Hurries
  • 2 Interceptions — of a QB who had thrown 1 interception ALL YEAR coming into the game
  • 2 PBU
  • 11 chunk plays — 9 passes (15+), and 2 runs (10+)
  • 27 first downs
  • 71 plays
  • 6.9 (nice) yards per play
  • 13.4 yards per completion
  • Only 1 turnover — a late interception.
  • 490 yards total offense
  • 4-4 in the red zone. And, more importantly, 3 of those were touchdowns.

The Bad

  • 1 fumble...on one of the game’s biggest plays. Diving to make a first down with just over 2 minutes left, Will Mallory fumbled the ball, that trickled oh so slowly toward the sideline. It BARELY went out of bound before a Pitt defender or Miami’s QB racing to support the play could recover it. That was literal inches from costing Miami the game. GOTTA do better with ball security.
  • Allowed 519 yards passing
  • Allowed 13.3 yards per completion
  • Allowed 7.4 yards per play
  • Allowed 32 (!!!!!) first downs
  • Allowed Pitt to go 6-6 in the red zone. YIKES.
  • Allowed 9 TFL
  • Allowed 3 sack

The Ugly

  • Penalties. 2 by Navaughn Donaldson negated big plays in the 1st quarter alone.
  • On the day, Miami had 8 penalties for 72 yards. And, when you consider the BIG YARDAGE that was negated by a couple of these, and the impact is multiplied by 1.5-3x. Gotta tighten up.
  • CB Te’Cory Couch. Miami’s best man cover player got burned by TEs and WRs alike in man situations. Very not good.
  • Drops. This will always go in The Ugly, for me. Charleston Rambo had a couple, and someone else had a bad one too. I’m greedy; I want ALL those catches to be made, tough or not, diving or not, defender nearby or not. Catch the ball.
  • The playcalling when Miami had a chance to put Pitt away. This is entirely bc of the success of the offense today. Any time that the success was not there, it stood out. And there was a stretch in the 2nd half that was particularly stark. The embedded tweet tells the story:
  • Being held to 7 points in the 2nd half. I know it was “enough” to win today, but that’s not good enough.
  • More horrible ref performance. Pitt false started a bunch that wasn’t called. And my GOD the holding. All. The. Holding. I know people are going to say “but Cam. Miami got stopped for a Safety late in the game and the refs called Knighton’s progress to the inch line.” and to that, I say they owed us after the myriad bad calls so whatever. Cry about it.
  • The return game. Multiple KRs, all stopped inside the 20. Stop returning the ball. Fair catch it, give the offense the ball on the 25, and go from there. It was lucky that Miami’s offense was cooking all day, so they were able to overcome some of the bad field position, but we can’t have this moving forward. Make better choices.

Team Grades

Offense: B+

38 points, 31 of which came in the first half. Over 400 passing yards. 90+ rush yards (before sack yardage). 6 receivers with catches. A much improved offensive line. But, there were still drops and penalties that lower this grade slightly. But this was the best we’ve seen the offense look in A MINUTE, and that is something to be celebrated.

Defense: B

Sure, Kenny Pickett had more than 500 yards passing and Pitt was able to move the ball, but Miami also got 2 interceptions on the day, when Pickett had only thrown 1 on the year heading into this game. And they were able to make just enough stops to preserve the win. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good work.

Special Teams: D

P Louis Hedley had his “worst” punting day, averaging only 39 yards per kick. K Andres Borregales was 1/1 on FGs and did well on kickoffs. The major demerits here, again, are against the coverage and return units. Maybe if I keep saying they’re the issue, eventually the issue will get fixed. Maybe?

Coaching: B+

Look man, I have to give credit where it’s due. Diaz and company did their dollar this week. First off, Miami blitzed Pitt from the start, racing to a 21-7 lead. The offense was majorly improved, and the playcalling was better (although there were still times I wanted it to be better/different). And on defense, the goal against an offense that was coming in as dynamic as Pitt’s was to get at least 1 stop a quarter, and go from there. Miami accomplished that goal, weathered the storm when Pitt came back to tie the game early in the 3rd quarter, and rallied to fight for a big road win.

I’m still “out” on Diaz as the guy for Miami, but he’s not quitting, and neither is his team. And he deserves credit for that. Well done.

That’s it, kids. Those are my thoughts on Miami’s big road win today. Hop in the comments and share yours.

On to Georgia Tech!

Go Canes