The College Football Playoff is set. The Georgia Bulldogs will face THE Ohio State Buckeyes in the Peach Bowl semifinal game, while the Michigan Wolverines will face the TCU Horned Frogs in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal. Both games will be played on December 31st, 2022.
Meanwhile, the Miami Hurricanes are at home for the holidays after posting a 5-7 season in ‘22. The ‘Canes watched the UNC Tar Heels and Clemson Tigers play for the ACC Championship in the final year of the Atlantic and Coastal divisions.
According to Bill Connelly’s SP+ metrics, 13-0 Georgia Bulldogs are the top team in the nation. Michigan, also 13-0, is the SP+ second best team (matches the playoff rankings). 11-1 Ohio State are ranked 3rd, while 12-1 TCU is ranked 6th overall.
The SP+ has UGA ranked 1st overall, 16th on offense, 2nd on defense, and 5th in kicking. Michigan is 2nd overall, 18th on offense, 4th on defense and 6th in kicking. TCU is 6th overall, 6th on offense, 33rd on defense, and 31st in kicking. Ohio State finished ranked 3rd overall, 4th on offense, 15th on defense and 7th in kicking.
Miami finished the season 75th overall, 81st on offense, 76th on defense, and 3rd in kicking. We’re going to take a look at the playoff teams and compare them to the Miami Hurricanes in three areas: acquisition, development and deployment.
Acquisition is exactly what you think it is, it’s the signing of talent to the program. We’re going to use the Blue Chip Ratio from Bud Elliott as our model. It’s a list of the teams that have signed above 50% blue-chip recruits from their last four recruiting classes.
Blue Chip Ratio
The most talented team in the country didn’t make the CFB Playoff in ‘22. The Alabama Crimson Tide’s Blue Chip Ratio came in at 89% in the pre-season per 247 Sports. The Bulldogs were the third highest BCR at 77%, and didn’t focus on the Transfer Portal this past off-season.
The Ohio State Buckeyes slipped in at fourth in the playoff seeding, but had the 2nd most talent at 80% BCR. Ryan Day’s squad lost to Michigan on Rivalry Weekend, sat out the Big Ten Championship Game, and back-doored into the playoff.
Michigan has the third lowest BCR of the final four teams. The Wolverines have a 59% BCR. The TCU Horned Frogs aren’t listed as they didn’t have a 50% or above BCR.
The Miami Hurricanes: 55% BCR.
UGA’s quarterback is former walk-on Stetson Bennett IV (three-star, GA). Bennett threw 20 TD’s with six INT’s at 8.6 yards per attempt. Bennett is the kind of guy who isn’t run-first, but can scramble and run the QB sneak. Bennett has seven rushing TD’s this season.
Michigan’s QB, JJ McCarthy (five-star, IMG/IL), had to beat out last season’s starting QB Cade McNamara. McNamara led the Wolverines to the CFB Playoff a year ago with solid but not great stats. McCarthy averaged 8.3 yards per pass attempt with 20 TD’s and three INT’s this year.
CJ Stroud (four-star, CA) put up the big numbers last year and this season for OSU. Stroud averaged 9.4 yards per attempt with 37 TD’s and six INT’s. Stroud might be the least likely to run of the four QB’s in the playoff.
TCU’s Max Duggan (four-star, IA) averaged nine yards per attempt with 30 TD’s and four INT’s. Duggan’s the biggest runner of the four with 25 career rushing TD’s at TCU.
The Miami Hurricanes, Tyler Van Dyke (four-star, CT) Van Dyke dipped from 9.0 to 7.3 yards per attempt under OC Josh Gattis compared to under former OC Rhett Lashlee (SMU). Van Dyke threw 25 TD’s with six INT’s in ‘21, but only 10 TD’s with five INT’s in ‘22, with only one game difference. Van Dyke is the tallest of the five QB’s, and the least mobile.
The strength and conditioning coach plays an important part in the development of the student-athletes along with the medical staff, mental conditioning staff, and of course- position coaching staff.
UGA- Scott Sinclair holds a masters degree in education from UCF and an MSCC designation in S&C. Sinclair sharpened his skills at UCF and Georgia Tech, before stints at Marshall and UGA. Sinclair comes from the Ed Ellis tree.
Michigan- Ben Herbert has one hell of a reputation in the S&C world. Herbert is certified by the CSCCa and MSCC. Herbert then gained experience with the Wisconsin Badgers, Arkansas Razorbacks and now runs the weight room at the other UM. He’s considered a CEO style S&C coach and a master coach of his coaches.
TCU- The bulk of Kaz Kazadi’s experience has come in the state of Texas between the SMU Mustangs, Dallas Cowboys, Baylor Bears and TCU Horned Frogs. Kazadi has a masters degree in Counseling Psychology with a focus on Sports Psychology. I was unable to find his certifications. Kazadi’s reputation is really strong when it comes to his compassion for his athletes.
Ohio State- Mickey Marotti is one of the most well-known strength coaches in college football. Marotti is an MSCC strength coach. Marotti has won three National Championships while overseeing the football programs at Florida and OSU. He also has prior experience from Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Marotti was an Urban Meyer guy that has stayed on with Ryan Day, so the reputation of some of his tactics has come under question at times.
Miami- Aaron Feld holds his CSCS and has experience from UGA, Alabama, Oregon and Miami. Feld comes from the Scott Cochran coaching tree, for better or worse. Feld and Cristobal have hired Bryan Mann (Power) and Erin Renaghan (Science) to fill the buckets where Feld struggles. And speed guru Les Spellman wrote up the speed program for the ‘Canes.
UGA- The Dawgs produced the 1st overall NFL Draft pick in the 2022 draft in DE Travon Walker of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kirby Smart and Sinclair have produced over a dozen 1st and 2nd round picks since 2019.
Michigan- Herbert and Harbaugh have put eight players into the 1st and 2nd rounds of the NFL Draft since 2019, including the 2nd overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft in Lions DE Aidan Hutchinson.
TCU- Coach “Kaz” and Sonny Dykes are coming to TCU from SMU, and this is year one. They had success with some 3rd rounders at SMU. TCU has had six 1st and 2nd rounders since 2019.
Ohio State- OSU has put 12 guys into the 1st and 2nd rounds of the NFL Draft. Marotti has had a specialty of developing defensive ends in Nick and Joey Bosa and Chase Young.
Mario Cristobal and Aaron Feld
Miami Hurricanes Drafts: The ‘Canes had two first rounders in the ‘21 NFL Draft under Manny Diaz and David Feeley in Gregory Rousseau and Jaelan Phillips.
Oregon Ducks Drafts: The Ducks had four first and second rounders since 2019. DE Kayvon Thibodeaux and OT Penei Sewell were two of the four, with QB Justin Herbert as another. Safety Javon Holland was a 2nd rounder for Oregon.
Urban Meyer once said that scheme was 10% or less of a ball club. Meyer placed his emphasis on talent acquisition, with a good piece to S&C development. Meyer once said his top priority in a hire was the S&C coordinator first and foremost.
We’ve looked at S&C, now we’ll look at the head coaches and coordinators and schemes. The offenses are gun focused with two pro style, an Air Raid and a spread ‘gun type system.
The defenses are two 4-2-5’s and two odd fronts. Three of the four head coaches are offensive-minded coaches, with only Smart being a former defensive coach.
UGA: The Dawgs head coach is Kirby Smart. Smart is off the Nick Saban tree and is a defensive-minded head coach. His OC is Todd Monken (Pro). The DC’s are Will Muschamp and Glenn Schumann (3-4). Monken and Muschamp have head coaching and NFL coordinator experience.
Smart head coaching record: 79-15 (2021 National Champion head coach)
TCU: The Frogs head coach is Sonny Dykes, who is off the Mike Leach coaching tree. His OC is Garrett Riley (Air Raid). The TCU DC is Joseph Gillespie (3-3-5). Riley and Gillespie are younger coaches and Dykes has experience as a college head coach.
Dykes head coaching record: 83-64
OSU: Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day is an offensive guru type of HC. OSU OC Kevin Wilson (Spread RPO) is a former head coach. DC Jim Knowles (4-2-5) came to OSU from Oklahoma State.
Day head coaching record: 45-5
Michigan: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is a former NFL QB. His OC’s are Sherrone Moore and Matt Weiss (Spread Power Run). Moore and Weiss are both young guns that are innovative minds. Harbaugh’s DC Jesse Minter (4-2-5) is also young and worked with John Harbaugh in Baltimore.
Harbaugh head coaching record: 74-24; 44-19-1 in the NFL
Miami: ‘Canes head coach Mario Cristobal is offensive minded... I guess. Compared to Day, Dykes and Harbaugh his X&O chops aren’t much on offense. Cristobal’s reputation comes in recruiting. Miami’s OC is Josh Gattis (Pro). Gattis comes to Miami after being at Michigan and Alabama. DC Kevin Steele (4-2-5) has a lot of experience in even and odd fronts, and is a former college head coach at Baylor.
Cristobal head coaching record: 67-67
What about the data behind the game? Miami struggled in the four data points I thought were the most important. They’re not alone as OSU struggled here, TCU there, and OSU way out that way, too. The difference? Miami struggled in ALL FOUR categories.
Fewest Penalties per game
Discipline teams are tough teams. While Miami finished 108th in penalties, three of the playoff four finished 24th or better, including Michigan at 7th!
Points per play
The ability to score a lot and score quickly is huge. Explosive plays are a must-have in the NFL and college football. Teams with one explosive play on a drive are nearly guaranteed to score at least a field goal, if not also a touchdown. Two explosive plays nearly guarantees a touchdown in the NFL.
Turnover Margin per Game
Another sign of disciplined play, along with penalties, is your turnover margin. UGA has a middle of the road turnover margin, but the other three playoff teams are in the top-25 in FBS. Miami is down at 100th after struggling with interceptions and fumbles in ‘22.
Red Zone Offense
Of course, if you can’t put up a big play it helps to convert in the red zone. Miami was one of the FBS’s worst red zone teams at 110th. TCU struggled, but was still above the middle of the pack in FBS. UGA, Michigan and OSU are top-7 or above in the country in the red zone.
After looking through the data, the biggest differences between the playoff four and Miami isn’t talent. Miami and Michigan have equal talent and TCU has less talent than Miami.
Is it development? OSU, Michigan and UGA have clearly put out more top level draft picks than Oregon/Miami, and also TCU. While that development is huge, it’s more about keeping your stars healthy. McCarthy, Duggan, Stroud and Bennett are all healthy. Michigan has now lost RB Blake Corum, and OSU has been without Treyvon Henderson. Miami was without dozens of starters this year.
Deployment has some differences. The programs that are in the playoff score quickly, score in the red zone, don’t commit penalties, and have at least average if not stellar turnover margins. Miami’s head coach has a .500 record while the other coaches have much stronger winning percentages over their careers.
Dykes has coached at lower schools like Louisiana Tech and Cal, Harbaugh at San Diego and middling Stanford before he made them a household name again. Day woke up on third base taking over for Meyer, and we’ll see how he performs against UGA on New Year’s Eve. Cristobal had to suffer at FIU before taking over at Oregon and Miami.
NFL experience has been a variable. Day, Harbaugh, and Smart have coached in the NFL in different capacities; while Dykes and Cristobal have no pro experience. Prior HC experience was there for Harbaugh, Cristobal, and Dykes but not Smart or Day.
Adaptation. One thing the four CFBPO teams have done is adapt. Dykes is new to TCU and hired younger coordinators. Day is the young guy who has an experienced OC and DC. Smart has two veteran coordinators in Monken and Muschamp. Cristobal has Josh Gattis and Kevin Steele- Gattis is only 38 years old but runs an offense you’d expect a 65 year old to run while Steele is AARP years old.
What you’ve seen with TCU, Michigan and OSU is the willingness to adapt their style. UGA has stuck fairly tightly to what they do- but even Bennett has thrown deep more in ‘22 than ‘21 and prior at UGA under Smart. Harbaugh made the play calling system easier and has slowly let McCarthy run more and throw deep more, too. Dykes is an Air Raid coach who likes to innovate.
Compared to these other teams, Miami just didn’t look well coached. Underprepared and unmotivated as well as undisciplined, injured, and lacking in fundamentals (protect the ball, block, tackle). Maybe Miami’s issue is not being very innovate, or maybe it’s just coaching chops. Let’s hope Cristobal is willing to adapt, and willing to analyze and grow.