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Film Review: Michigan State 38 - Miami 17

The Hurricanes fall to 1-2 on the season after a 21 point loss to Sparty on Saturday afernoon.

Michigan State v Miami Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes were blown out by the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday afternoon by a final score of 38-17. MSU scored 21 points in the 4th quarter, one where many felt The U would prevail due to the heat and humidity of Hard Rock Stadium. The pundits were wrong. Sparty dominated The U in the 4th quarter heat and put the ‘Canes away with ground and pound in true Big Ten fashion.

Coach Diaz is now 1-2 on the season and 1-4 over his last five games. If it wasn’t for a safety on a punt long snap gone bad, Miami might’ve started 0-3 in 2021. This is following an 8-3 season where Miami made bad teams look better and got slapped by UNC on senior day.

The stats

Want to lose to a Big Ten team? Run for only 2.2 yards per carry. While running back Cam’Ron Harris ran for four yards per carry, quarterback D’Eriq King ran for only 0.6. King was beat up on the afternoon with shoulder and lower leg issues but Miami ran him out there, even down 21 with only minutes to go in the game. Tyler Van Dyke and Jake Garcia have still failed to take meaningful snaps in orange and green. That doesn’t bode well with King hobbled and the ACC Coastal slate fast approaching.

Michigan State v Miami Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Miami lacked the explosive plays that an allegedly fast program should make. The ‘Canes, with an obvious focus on body building and power lifting, looked slow and lacked the wiggle or breakaway speed needed for explosive plays. Harris is easy to take down in space, while Charleston Rambo had a fantastic day, he too lacks wiggle in the open field. Miami had no receivers hit 16 or more yards per catch, and the U’s longest rush was 11 yards.

On the other side of the ball, MSU QB Payton Thorne had a 22 yard long, RB Kenneth Walker III had a 26 yarder, and two MSU receivers had 20+ yards per grab. Sparty looked more explosive in pads in the heat than the ‘Canes have in years.

Miami was 6-of-17 on 3rd downs while Sparty was 7-of-15, and The U turned the ball over four times on Saturday to MSU’s ZERO. The Hurricanes committed 10 penalties for 93 yards while MSU committed nine penalties for 80 yards. Overall the game was a slog that took almost four hours to complete.

The ‘Canes offense

I could probably just stop now and save us all the misery. Roman summed up the ‘Canes offense in one tweet, but, the show goes on. Miami was a paltry 35% on third downs against the Spartans, but did finish 3-of-4 on 4th down which shows some guts by Manny Diaz. I like going for it on 4th down and not taking safe field goals or punting from midfield and in.

While King threw for 388 yards that’s a Jon Kitna “in a losing effort” (Solid Verbal) type of stat. King averaged only 6.6 yards per attempt while throwing two TD’s and two interceptions. Charleston Rambo had a big afternoon as a possession receiver hauling in 12 balls for 156 yards and two TD’s but Mike Harley and Will Mallory suffered through the drops once again. MSU also had three sacks, six tackles for loss, six pass breakups and two hurries.

Above- The weird run play where King fumbles made no sense to me. It’s not inverted veer (power read) and it’s not outside zone with the way the back side guard and tackle fan block out on their DT and DE. It’s not a play-action and I can’t see an RPO tag.

Above- This is just a play where I’m assuming King is faking it to the RB and has carte blanche to run around.

Above- I absolutely hate the tight splits Miami is using. The angle to the QB is way too narrow. Defensive linemen line up on the OL by shoulder. You can either give the DE 5-yards to cover or 3-yards. Lashlee is choosing 3-yards. I choose 5-yards. The 5-tech (outside defensive end) isn’t giving up his leverage on the OT’s outside shoulder, so why not force that angle further out? Lashlee has abandoned all things learned from Sonny Dykes, much like Dan Enos abandoned all things learned from Nick Saban in 2019.

Above- Then you have the technique used by Jarid Williams, the right tackle. You can clearly see why Williams has struggled to start in this offense, even with an atrocious O-Line ran onto the field by Garin Justice. Williams never keeps knee-to-crotch relationship and it costs him. His feet are together, and then as the end uses a hand slap move, Williams has to lunge at him instead of moving his feet and keeping his outside knee in the DE’s crotch.

Above- Here’s the difference between King and some other QB’s, like Chase Brice. Brice would’ve fired this thing in at 100 MPH and made it a much harder ball to catch. King puts the perfect touch on it and it’s in a spot where only Rambo can grab it. King doesn’t always throw the most catchable ball (loose spirals) but this is that veteran touch Miami needs.

Above- I don’t understand what Zion Nelson is doing here. With Harris protecting the other side, Nelson is big-on-big with the DE. He can’t step inside first. The let guard has to have his DT and Nelson has to have the DE. Now, why Harris isn’t protecting inside-out on that side is beyond me as the right side looks to be in slide protection.

The ‘Canes defense

Miami’s defense came away with only three sacks, seven tackles for loss, only two PBU’s and a single hurry on the afternoon. After the first quarter, the pass rush dipped significantly once MSU figured out Miami’s striker-will blitz.

Above- I put this on MSU’s QB being too slow to get rid of the ball, and their bad play calling in the first half, as much as Miami’s defense. MSU was calling plays like you play Madden versus the CPU. You’ll get away with all of the slow drop backs against AI but once your Uncle Roscoe takes the sticks you have to change your game plan a little and get rid of the football faster.

Above- Diaz was dialing up that extra aggressive pressure and at this point I was getting a little excited. Chantz Williams is a player and should be on the first-team defense moving forward along with Jahfari Harvey.

Above- Live by the blitz, die by the blitz. Diaz loves to bring pressure, but on 3rd and 1 Gurvan Hall doesn’t understand the difference between a run blitz and a pass rush. Hall winds up 5-yards deep behind the line of scrimmage (LOS) while he needs to play at the LOS. Tyrique Stevenson, the CB, has NFL ability but he’ll need better coaching in order to be the “Day 2” pick he’s capable of being.

Above- Again, Miami loses contain and takes bad pursuit angles. This team STILL hasn’t learned how to finish (pursue and tackle) in six years under Manny Diaz.

Above- When Barstool picks up Hall pooping the bed, well, yeah.

Above- Kenneth Walker III wasn’t happy with his playing time at Wake Forest, a bad ACC team. So he transfers to Mel Tucker’s MSU squad and all of a sudden becomes Jerome Bettis.

The wrap

The Canyonero keys to victory for Miami against MSU were simple: 1- don’t give up big plays to the Spartans wide receivers, 2- don’t ‘force it’ on offense, and 3- beat someone with special teams.

1- Miami allowed two MSU receivers to go over 20 yards per catch.

2- Rhett Lashlee continued his futile attempt at running D’Eriq King on QB runs even while he was hobbled, and using the slow and stiff Cam Harris on obvious running situations.

3- Miami’s kicking game failed again. They were penalized, they caught a punt inside the 5-yard line, and they missed a field goal.

Manny Diaz’s time in Miami should be over, however, with there still being a chance to win the wide open Coastal, I’m sure he’ll be given time to see this season through. Miami won’t pull a USC and start the search early, they’ll wait until there’s a debacle against Virginia Tech or UNC.

The ‘Canes are facing Central Connecticut on Saturday, September 25th at Hard Rock in what could be an empty stadium. I’m not sure why Miami books these really bad FCS teams (see: Wagner) because it’s not like the win is worth anything, and having the watchful eyes of the state of Connecticut’s nine whole ranked players, none above a three-star ranking, seems moot. Here’s to seeing Tyler Van Dyke and Jake Garcia handoff three times a piece halfway through the 4th quarter.