The Miami Hurricanes narrowly escaped the Appalachian State Mountaineers by a final score of 25-23 on Saturday, September 11th. The ‘Canes were even trailing 14-12 at the half before finding their way to a game winning field goal and defensive stand. Manny Diaz’s program has started the 2021 season off 1-1 after the home opener.
Comically bad former Elite 11 quarterback Chase Brice nearly walked ASU into Hard Rock Stadium and pulled off an upset. However, his wide receivers let him down on the final drive and Miami prevailed. Brice finished with 5.9 yards per attempt and a TD and an interception while D’Eriq King finished with 6.1 yards per attempt and 79 yards rushing.
Miami was held to only 5-of-16 on 3rd downs while holding App State to 5-of-15. Both teams struggled on 3rd down, mainly because they were “and long” situations. The teams also split penalties to six a piece.
ASU’s lone turnover (really they had two, counting the bad punt snap that resulted in a safety, and a turnover of possession) was the difference maker. It’s hard for a G5 to spot a P5 9 points, even if that P5 is a struggling Hurricanes offense.
Miami’s offensive line allowed three sacks, eight tackles for loss and eight hurries. The progress expected from year two of Garin Justice and Rhett Lashlee, and year three of David Feeley just isn’t there. App’s offensive line allowed one sack, seven TFL’s and five hurries with a less mobile QB in Brice.
Miami also had a field goal blocked and allowed a 100 yard kick off return for a TD. Jonathan Patke, whose linebackers have also struggled, has to be evaluated immediately by Manny Diaz.
Miami ran for 4.1 yards per carry, mostly thanks to King not being sacked a handful of times more because of his mobility. Camerun Peoples ran for 5.6 yards per carry and a TD against Miami’s defense.
The ‘Canes offense
Miami runs an old school play with “G” or a play side guard down-pull play. The tight end and offensive tackle will block “down” on the interior defensive linemen while the play side guard will pull for the RB. It’s like power but the pull comes from the play side instead of the back side.
Above- In Miami’s G scheme, you’ve also got a lead block from the fullback to go with the wrapping guard. Powerful but oft-injured RB Don Chaney runs in for a TD.
Above- Miami allegedly has the faster team. King has shown against NC State and others that he can drop in a dime of a deep ball when given time. Lashlee dials up a good one here and hits Smith deep on a fade with a max protection scheme to give King time.
Above- Bodybuilding and power lifting by Cam Harris versus training to be a great football player by the App State defender. Gaynor gets slapped away, Harris gets demolished and King gives up a sack he had to see coming directly in his face.
Above- King’s running ability freezes the back side defensive end. Will Mallory blocks downfield (go play the lottery!) and it springs Harris for the go-ahead TD.
The ‘Canes defense
The defense reaped the benefit of how bad Chase Brice is, mixed with the App State wide receivers having a Miami 2020 level of the dropsies. BUT, some players wouldn’t have made this play.
Above- Amari Carter makes a fantastic diving interception that turns out to be a true difference maker in the ball game. Brice’s pass is tipped and Carter has to change direction, set himself up, right, not lose track of the ball, and then make a diving catch that sets up a Miami TD. When Diaz had Zach McCloud at this spot in 2016 this wasn’t happening. Diaz finally adapting to the spread and the idea to move Carter down to Striker made for a win on Saturday night.
Above- You might as well count a few of these in per game. The defensive tackle slanting into the A gap, the linebacker also stepping into the A gap. The DT being pushed back into the LB. A safety either not rotating down or some how now DJ Ivey is inside of Bubba Bolden for run support. A RB breaking a big play.
The Diaz-Patke LB corp has been doing this for years. They can get the better of bad offenses (read: Pitt) like this but well coached run schemes (read: Clemson, Bama, UNC, even Georgia Tech) will rip off some big runs. The even more telling fact is that ASU’s RB is this much faster than a Miami DB, and that Bubba Bolden doesn’t care that he loafed on film on a TD run. Like he knows he’s starting and trotted at best after this play.
Above- Three bad tackles on one play, and two miss. The DT goes too deep and lunges at the ball carrier from too tall of a position. Bolden is the rotation safety. He comes down and misses an arm tackle. Gurvan Hall gets to 90 degrees faster than a Miami afternoon and nearly paralyzes himself to finish the play- blatantly having no idea how a hawk and roll tackle works.
The kicking game
There is so much wrong with Miami’s kicking game that Lou Hedley and the Borregales duo have covered up. Whether it’s poor coverage schemes, poor blocking schemes, the inability to field punts, etc.
Above- Players have to work on small sided games in the off-season and in practice involving situations like the one Carter winds up in above. As you can see in the top left photo, he’s running so up right his pelvis is tilted back and his ability to come to balance, buzz his feet, and shoot the returner is impossible. So in the top right image he’s left behind the returner throwing his body at him.
GIF and image- On the bottom left you’re seeing a footrace. Five-star James Williams and Al Blades Jr. are sprinting with the returner. Neither can make up ground on the KR over a 40 yard field. I wonder what Feeley will say the GPS read on that one as his two blue chip players got smoked by a G5 returner. Miami is where elite talents in high school go to get slower.
Above- The snap, hold and kick were fine. App just out willed the Miami blocking scheme on the inside and pushed two players through the left guard.
App State clearly is a well coached football program that misses having an elite QB like Zac Thomas or Taylor Lamb. The Mountaineers will be a really good Sun Belt team this season and a bowl eligible program.
Miami has a lot of work to do to compete against the rest of their schedule. Michigan State comes to Hard Rock to face the ‘Canes on September 18th at noon on either ABC or ESPN. MSU RB Kenneth Walker III has rushed for over 300 yards with 5 TD’s in two games. The Spartans will bring a power run game into Miami’s face and Miami needs to learn how to defend against kick out blocks like on split zone and counter in a hurry. If the ‘Canes can’t tackle this will make for a long afternoon against Walker.
Manny Diaz is in year three and Miami is still struggling to beat G5 opponents much like in year one. The offense has regressed and veteran players Mike Harley and Will Mallory had bad drops, while Chaney left injured and the defense continued to miss tackles and blow coverages against a QB that over threw his WR’s time and again in Brice.
BUT, win your clunkers, as the podcast The Solid Verbal likes to say.