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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Virginia Tech Hokies edition

Oh. That’s what winning feels like.

Miami v Virginia Tech Photo by Ryan Hunt/Getty Images

Oh hey! A WIN!!!!!!!!! Man, it’d been a while.

I was a bit preoccupied this weekend, but I did get to see the majority of Miami’s 20-14 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon. It was....a game. And one that we’ll talk about shortly.

As per usual, Craig T. Smith checked in with your game recap.

Mike Schiffman is back with your 3 stars from the game.

And now, let’s dive into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good

  • A WIN!!!!! Winning is good! Winning is something that Miami hadn’t done since week 2 of this season. Winning is something Miami hasn’t done nearly enough of recently. We should win more often. I like winning.
  • A fast start for once! Miami got out to a 20-0 lead against Virginia Tech. When was the last time you could say that about a game that??
  • QB Tyler Van Dyke. Miami’s signal caller finally got a chance to give his input on what plays he likes over the bye week, and it’s showed in his improved performance these last 2 weeks. Van Dyke went 29-46 passing (63% completions) for 351 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs. Not only that, but TVD also ran for 13 yards, including a crucial 3rd down conversion — ON A CALLED QB RUN NO LESS — to keep the chains moving and ice the game for the Canes. A great performance.
  • WR Colbie Young. The JUCO transfer has stepped up huge the last two weeks and he’s absolutely at the top of the WR rotation now. On Saturday, Young had 9 catches for 110 yards and a spectacular, 1-handed touchdown just before the half. Learn the name; Young is a PLAYER and he’ll be featured for the next several years.
  • Speaking of TVD, Colbie Young, and the insane 1-handed touchdown catch.....
  • DE Akheem Mesidor. An absolute MONSTER performance from another transfer. 8 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, and plenty more impact beyond that stat line.
  • For his efforts on Saturday, Mesidor was named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week. So, it’s not just me who saw and noted his excellence against Virginia Tech.
  • P Louis Hedley. An active game for Hedley on Saturday with 7 punts for 312 yards — a 44.6ypp average. 4 of his kicks were downed inside the 20 and 1 of those was a monster 58 yard punt that tilted the field back in Miami’s favor. Enjoy it while he’s here.
  • K Andres Borregales. 2/2 on FGs and consistent excellence on kickoffs. You love to see it.
  • The defense for the first 3 quarters. Miami pitched a shutout for the first 45 minutes of the game, and looked....GOOD! No, I’m not joking. It was great! We need more of that!
  • The youth movement, especially on defense. LB Wesley Bissainthe. DE Nyjalik Kelly. TE Jaleel Skinner. You can start to see the kinds of players Cristobal wants to build his program with to get the wins everybody wants. But, you can also see that there’s a bunch more of those dudes needed.
  • QB Jacurri Brown. The freshman signal-caller did his best Cam Newton impression with a couple great runs on QB power/inverted veer. You can see why Brown is a potential building block player for this team moving forward; he’s big (6’4” 220lbs+), fast, strong, and a physical runner. If he can harness all that oozing athleticism and become a consistent passer as well......woooo BUDDY. watch out.
  • As you can see above, Miami was pretty dominant in the game. VT couldn’t really do anything on offense until 4Q, which is a testament to what Miami’s defense did to them.
  • 458 yards of offense
  • 351 yards passing
  • 15 chunk plays — 11 passing (15+), 4 rushing (10+)
  • Holding VT to 257 yards of offense
  • Holding VT to a season-low 4.1 yards per play
  • Holding VT to 78 yards rushing on 2.6 yards per carry
  • Holding VT to 4-15 on 3rd downs
  • 22 first downs
  • 6.2 yards per play
  • 12.1 yards per completion
  • 7 TFL
  • 6 sacks
  • 2 PBU
  • 1 FF
  • 1 FR
  • 8-17 on 3rd downs. The best performance of the year against P5 competition BY FAR
  • 4-4 redzone scoring (2 TD, 2 FG)

The Bad

  • Yet another coverage bust from a Safety. LUCKILY, this one didn’t go for a touchdown, but that speaks more to how bad VT is than anything else.
  • Another week, and more injuries. Zion Nelson didn’t play. Tyrique Stevenson didn’t play. Will Mallory got injured during the game and didn’t return to the game. Plus the other injuries that are already keeping players off the field. Miami doesn’t have the depth to continue to take these losses from starting level players. Team needs to get healthy.
  • Allowed 7 TFLs
  • Allowed 2 sacks
  • The run game. Oh, the run game. Matter of fact, I’m gonna save that for The Ugly. It was baaaaaaaaaaaaaad bad.
  • Allowed 9 chunk plays — 4 passing (15+), 5 rushing (10+)
  • Allowed VT to convert their only 4th down attempt
  • 50% TDs in the red zone. Yeah, Miami scored on all their trips into the red zone, but more of those scores need to be touchdowns.

The Ugly

  • The penalties. Had to start there. 17 (!!!!!!!!) penalties for 159 yards. Totally and completely unacceptable. This isn’t the 1991 Cotton Bowl. Miami isn’t good enough to overcome this amount of penalties. Hell, Miami’s not good enough to overcome HALF this many penalties. This is piss poor and if VT wasn’t one of the worst teams in the conference, it would have cost Miami the game....and lowkey almost did anyways. This was a season-high for penalties BY FAR. The previous game-high for penalties was 7. Miami had 2.4x that number on Saturday. That’s sooooooooooooooooooooo bad. And I know there are going to be some issues when you have younger players rotating in, but this was beyond the pail.
  • The 4th quarter. Not only did Miami not put Virginia Tech away, they let the Hokies back into the game, and almost lost. VT went on a 14-0 run and had the ball with a chance to drive for a winning score. For that to be the state of affairs for a game that Miami DOMINATED from the opening kick isn’t great.
  • The run game. What was supposed to be a foundational building block for this offense has turned into a major, major struggle. 28 carries for 108 yards. That’s 3.8 yards per carry. And, I mean, that’ll move the chains, but thing should be better than that. Especially when VT had allowed 218 yards, 160 yards, and 328 yards — most of that to a single player — over the 3 games preceding this one.
  • 17 penalties. I know I said it already, but I just needed to say that again.
  • Oh yeah. The return of the drops on offense. Can’t have that.
  • DJ Scaife had 4 penalties himself. Can’t have that, much less from a super duper senior like Scaife.
  • OH YEAH! Why in the WORLD was Miami snapping the ball with 10 seconds on the play clock when trying to run out the clock and leave with a win? I know there were timing/snap issues with backup center Jonathan Denis in the game, but come on bro. Clock management needs to be what it needs to be, and late in the game, it wasn’t always that.
  • Honestly, it’s like 3AM Monday and I’m wrapping this up and I might be forgetting things. But I’m sure you’ll add them in the comments section.

Team Grades

Offense: C

Passing game starting to pop is a VERY good thing. But the run game is still on the struggle bus. And the penalties were bad. And the red zone production needs to improve by leaps and bounds. But there are some things to like here.

Defense: B

For the better part of 48 minutes, Miami’s defense DOMINATED this game. Mesidor was unreal, and the DL as a whole was really physically imposing. The young players stepped up. Some others who were stepping into more playing time did as well. But, there were plenty of penalties on this side of the ball as well, and the 4th quarter, letting VT back into the game, was suboptimal. Better, but I want to see this kind of performance against a team better than VT.

Special Teams: B

Punting was great, if a bit too frequent for my liking. Kicking was solid. Coverage and returns were solid. Good not great, but I’ll take it.

Coaching: C

This was a split performance for me. It started well, with the 20-0 lead. But that lead evaporated and the game was close to slipping away. Plus the redzone struggles. Plus All. The. Penalties. But this team fought to the end and found a way to win. Which is a credit to the staff. But, there’s still A LOT of work to be done on pretty much every level. But a small step is still a step, and that should be noted, so NOTE.

That’s it for this installment of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Hop in the comments and share your thoughts.

Go Canes