Manny Diaz came into the head coaching job at the University of Miami with the false bravado of an 8th grader on the first day of tryouts. He puffed out his chest, wore some uncreased Nikes (rode a Yacht), and walked in with the swagger of Vincent K. McMahon.
And “then the bell rung” as they say in rasslin’. Diaz sounded the part, he looked the part, but Miami finished 6-7 in year one and lost to the FIU Panthers. Since then, Manny Diaz has been a Miami (Excuse) Machine. No talent, injuries, and even the “they didn’t show that before” shenanigan from the UVA game.
Let’s take a look at the 3 most common excuses espoused by the Manny Diaz regime.
Excuse 1: They didn’t show that before.
Better know as “The Scott Frost,” Manny Diaz tried to say UVA came out in some special defense he hadn’t seen before. Bronco Mendenhall has ran a fairly standard 3-4 since his time at BYU, and throughout his time in Charlottesville, VA.
A 3-4 defense is typically three down defensive linemen, with four linebackers and four defensive backs. In 2021, defenses have become more flexible due to personnel on the offense, and at times an odd front is just regarding the front three and after that all types of players are ‘linebackers,’ like you’d see at Iowa State, for instance.
Above- Obviously the alignment on the skills is varied because of the picture the defense is given (yes, most defenses adjust their alignment based on the formation of the offense!). However, the fronts are eerily similar to what Miami saw UVA run the week prior.
On the downs where UVA came out in a 4-0-4 (defensive ends head up on the offensive tackles or “4” and the nose tackle head up on the center or a “0”) typical odd front look, that’s something that has to be expected from a Mendenhall team.
At the FBS level, teams have access to years worth of film. Is it all valuable based on the time allotment you have? No. But should Rhett Lashlee and Manny Diaz know that UVA might line up in a standard 3-4, but also in under front looks? Yes.
Excuse 2: Not enough talent.
I mean in all honesty does anyone even need to argue this topic? The Blue Chip Ratio above says all that you need to know about the talent level of Miami compared to the rest of the ACC, not named Clemson. Even regarding Clemson, their BCR is 67%, while Miami’s is 55%. That’s a 12% difference, not quite the difference between the top three of Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State.
When Manny Diaz took over as the Hurricanes head football coach, he said the talent on campus was ready to compete for ACC Championships, and tackled the 7-6 dummy. He was bold in his feelings that he would outperform Mark Richt as the head coach at The U.
Richt, the former Georgia Bulldogs head coach, finished his three year tenure with a record of 26-13 (16-8 in the ACC). Diaz is in year three now, and he’s currently 16-13 (11-7 in the ACC) and on pace to absolutely win less and lose more than Coach Richt.
But do the Hurricanes lack the talent to beat Virginia, Michigan State, and potentially UNC in ‘21? Absolutely not. UNC doesn’t have a College Football Playoff caliber BCR, yet. Miami’s last three recruiting classes have finished as the ACC’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ranked classes per 247 Sports. The only Coastal teams that have finished higher than Miami have been Virginia Tech in 2019 and UNC in 2020.
Excuse 3: Injuries.
Sorry, y’all. I don’t belive in luck. Luck is just an excuse people make when they aren’t prepared for situations. On my way to work this morning someone swerved into my lane. I didn’t avoid them out of luck. I was prepared. I wasn’t on my phone, I wasn’t drinking my coffee, both hands were by the wheel and my eyes were on the road.
When I wake up in the morning I do Reflexive Performance Reset and a series of mobility drills before a hot shower. That way when I leave the house I will be more alert. This kept me from being smashed into by a giant Canyonero this morning in my little Honda Civic as this person changed lanes directly into me. I put on the break and hugged the outside of my lane while laying on the horn. Eventually they merged back to their lane.
Injuries don’t occur because of ‘bad luck.’ They occur because of poor preparation and adaptation. Can injuries be completely prevented? No. It’s mitigation, no elimination.
How can a football program prevent the amount of injuries that Miami seems to suffer from every year? In Trevor Moawad’s book, It Takes What it Takes, Trevor discusses “Fragile” Fred Taylor and his inability to play an entire 16 game regular season in the NFL. Trev and his staff came to the Jacksonville Jaguars and worked specifically with Taylor. They set Taylor on a clear goal- to play all 16 games. They then gave him two directives that matched what the 2nd and 3rd contract players were doing, who also played in all 16 games.
Those two directives were to 1- arrive at the facility by 6:30am every morning and 2- take care of your body before and after each practice session. The early morning wake up was to keep Taylor from staying out all night drinking, and thus arriving dehydrated and hungover. The pre-practice wake up drills and post-practice recovery were to keep Taylor from suffering soft tissue injuries. The investment worked and Taylor played in 46 straight games.
So what can Miami do to prevent this rash of injuries they seem to have every season, especially at tight end and linebacker? TCU Strength Coach Zach Dechant says the best methods to preventing injury are:
3- Nutrition (and hydration)
1- Stress is our daily stress: Relationships outside of football will play a massive role in the health and performance of athletes on the field. But so too will load management at practice. Excessive load will put an unnecessary amount of stress on the body. The body needs to be equally prepared for the intent of a game while also not exhausted. It’s a fine line, learn to walk it.
2- Sleep is vital for our mental, physical, and emotional health. LeBron James sleeps 10 hours a day. The same goes for Usain Bolt and Venus and Serena Williams. When you exercise at all, but especially at the FBS level, sleep is a must for recovery.
3- Nutrition is going to be extremely important for our gut health, which impacts our mental and emotional health, too. It’s also a major component for not only athletic performance improvements, but recovery as well.
4- Training is your standard S&C program. The idea of what the S&C program and head coach are aiming for- gains on a leader board or on the scoreboard. Athletic Performance has nothing to do with squat maxes unless you’re a powerlifter, something football players are not. Want to run faster? Work smarter, not harder.
The UNC game is a week and a half away and last year’s debacle cannot be repeated. Manny Diaz is coaching for his career and it’s evident on his face during games. Diaz will more than likely continue to rely on Tyler Van Dyke at quarterback with D’Eriq King on the shelf with injuries.
Stop with the excuses, start executing. Prepare your program in the weight room, the film room, and realize you’re the one who recruited this roster. It’s all on you, CEO, puff that chest out again and storm the shores of Miami in your yacht. Burn the ships.