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Film Preview: Central Connecticut State at Miami

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The Hurricanes host a bad FCS team in CC State at Hard Rock this Saturday.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Michigan State at Miami Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes play host to lowly Central Connecticut State on Saturday, September 25th at 12:30pm. The game will be shown on RSN/ESPN3. Miami has a quick turnaround with a Thursday night game at Hard Rock against Virginia on ESPN.

Clearly this should be an easy win for Miami. CC State isn’t even a remotely good FCS program, and being located in a state with under a dozen ranked players per 247 Sports it clearly makes no sense to play the (looks up mascot) Blue Devils. But, that’s Athletic Director Blake James for ya! Wagner, CC State... what’s next? Fort Lauderdale?


The data

Miami just made the SP+ top 25. The ‘Canes are sitting at 1-2 on the season and ranked 25th in FBS per the SP+. Miami is also ranked 32nd on offense, 33rd on defense, and 45th in the kicking game per Bill Connelly’s metrics.

The Hurricanes have been held to only 18.3 points per game, which ranks 116th of 130 in the FBS. Miami has allowed 35 PPG, which is good for 113th of 130 in FBS. For perspective, in 2020 Miami averaged 36 PPG (26th) and allowed 27 PPG (58th).

Miami is currently 95th in all of FBS on offense with a 36% 3rd down conversion percentage. On defense, Miami is 113th in FBS allowing 48% of 3rd downs to be converted.


The offense

D’Eriq King has been hindered by drops once again, but he’s also looked off at times in ‘21. The 6th year senior QB returned after his torn ACL in the Cheez-It Bowl in December of 2020, and has thrown three touchdowns with four interceptions. King is averaging only 6.3 yards per pass attempt and has fumbled multiple times this season. Per rumors- King may be out for Saturday’s game.

Miami has been completely void of explosive plays. It’s almost as if a focus on powerlifting and body building has made Miami a worse football team, go figure. Running back Cam’Ron Harris is averaging only 4.2 yards per carry, and Miami’s leading receiver in yards per catch is Xavier Restrepo with 16 yards per catch.

Only four receivers average double-digit yards per catch for Miami this season. That’s well under where Miami was a year ago, where 10 receivers averaged double-digit yards per catch. Harris is rushing for almost an entire yard per carry less than in ‘20, and King is averaging two yards less per attempt, and had only five INT’s in all of the 2020 season.

The offensive line has been a struggle in ‘21. The good will that Garin Justice earned with Zion Nelson’s quick turnaround has been all but forgotten with how poorly Miami’s run and pass blocking has gone over three games. Miami has allowed three sacks a game which makes The U tied with FSU and others for 108th in the country. The ‘Canes have also allowed seven TFL’s per game which ties them with Duke and others at 99th in FBS.

Above- Wagner throws the deep fade for a big gain on CCSU. Will that be Tyler Van Dyke or Jake Garcia hitting a fade for Miami? Sounds like it might be one or the other. BOTH need to play MAJOR MINUTES.

Above- Wagner’s lead blocker here levels a CCSU defender and scores the TD on stretch. Miami might want to think about Elijah Arroyo in this type of situation as he’s shown the testicular fortitude others have not in the run blocking game.


The defense

Manny Diaz and Bill Connelly have coined the phrase “havoc plays.” Those are the plays that put an offense behind schedule, and often lead to ‘and long’ situations. Those plays include: tackles for loss, pass breakups, and forced fumbles.

The Hurricanes are currently 10th in the nation in tackles for loss per game. The U is led by Nesta Jade Silvera in TFL’s with 2.5 on the season. Miami’s leader in PBU’s is Tyrique Stevenson with three. The ‘Canes have six total PBU’s on the year. Miami has one single forced fumble, that was caused by Kameron Kinchens.

The Hurricanes are also focused on sacks and turnovers. Miami has four players tied with a sack a piece, and only one interception which was a game changer by Amari Carter against Appalachian State in Week Two.

The Hurricanes are also 130th in missed tackles having missed 66 in three games. This is a total display of futility from the top down for The U.

Above- In some film that looks like it was shot in 2003, CCSU lines up in a spread formation.

Above- CCSU attempts a read option with a front side read here but fumbles the mesh. Miami should control the line of scrimmage for 60 minutes against these guys.

Above- Wagner gets to CCSU with their front four, Miami needs to be able to do the same.

Above- CCSU with a nice RB screen here on Wagner. The first guy for Wagner misses in the open field which has been an issue for Miami, too.

Above- Mobile QB’s with the ability to make plays happen in flow moments have given Miami fits.


Culture and kicking

The culture at Miami is atrocious right now. It’s down right embarrassing. The Hurricanes are a national laughing stock making Sports Center and Barstool for Gurvan Hall’s battery going dead in his controller.

The coaches are trying to explain away their lack of tackling ability which is a skill that must be gained. For every ‘not okay’ individual who likes slamming themselves into another moving object, there are 50 people who need to develop tackling as a skill much like shooting a jumper or a hitting a home run.

It takes self-efficacy to be good at tackling. It’s a developed skill. Players must practice said skill year round in a variety of methods and manners. Part of setting up a good tackle is pursuing the football. Miami is poor at both aspects of finish: tackle and pursuit.

To make matters worse, Miami is tied for 108th in FBS with FAU and Tulane in penalties per game with 7.67. UTEP is the worst in FBS with 12.67, while Rutgers is first with 2.33. Greg Schiano is running a tough, defensive-minded, and disciplined football program onto the field at Rutgers.

Miami has been penalized in the kicking game, while also suffering through a blocked field goal, poor decisions by the punt returner, and the nation’s 129th ranked kick return coverage team that’s allowed 45.33 yards per return and a TD.


Prediction

I’m curious to see how Miami divides up playing time for the CCSU game. CCSU has no chance to beat Miami. ESPN has literally given the ‘Canes a 99.5% chance to beat CCSU. I believe Vegas isn’t even setting a line on the game. It’s not a ‘wins or losses’ thing, it’s:

1- How many turnovers does Miami give up?

2- How many takeaways do they force?

3- Does Miami dominate the line of scrimmage?

4- Can the ‘Canes create any explosive plays against a bad FCS program?

5- Tackling, kicking and punt return miscues have to be fixed.

6- How do the ‘other guys’ look against CCSU? Are fans stuck watching Zach McCloud barely put together a highlight tape or will younger players like Van Dyke, Garcia, the freshmen running backs, Leonard Taylor and Kinchens be allowed on the field?

Prediction: Miami 42-CCSU 7.