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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Southern Miss Golden Eagles Edition

A bit of a rough start for the Canes on the way to a more challenging win than anyone would have liked. Let’s discuss.

NCAA Football: Southern Mississippi at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes hit the field at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday afternoon and earned their second win of the 2022 season, beating Southern Miss 30-7. The game was a bit closer than anybody (other than Southern Miss) would have liked, but we’ll get to that.

Craig T. Smith was on recap duty today so here’s that dispatch.

And Mike Schiffman is on 3 stars duty this season, so here’s that.

With that being said, let’s dive into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good

  • A win. Winning is always good, no matter the opponent. Yes, Miami was expected to win, and they did. But after the last, I dunno, 20 years of mediocrity, I’m not taking ANY win for granted.
  • RB Henry Parrish. Two games at Miami, two 100+-yard performances for the transfer from Ole Miss. Today, it was 21 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Parrish added 3 catches for 18 yards receiving. He’s proving himself to be a very valuable and productive addition to the roster.
  • RB Thad Franklin. The big, bruising back continued to show his value on offense as well. 13 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown. I like his improving ability to run behind his pads, and offer the “thunder” to both Parrish and fellow RB Jaylan Knighton’s “lightning” out of the backfield.
  • WR Xavier Restrepo. 5 catches for 68 yards, and sure hands on punt return. He’s clearly TVD’s favorite receiver to this point of the season, and that comfortable relationship is very beneficial when times get tough on the field.
  • DT Leonard Taylor. 2 tackles, 2 TFL, Sack, and even more pressure than that. Sure, it took until the 2nd half for him to REALLY show up, but show up he did.
  • LB Corey Flagg. Look, we all know Flagg isn’t the most athletically gifted player in the world, but he’s solid, positions himself well, leads the defense, and had a nice day tackling. Remember good =/= perfect. But Flagg deserves praise. Period.
  • CB Tyrique Stevenson. He was all over the place, and had some good coverage and a few VERY STRONG tackles on the day. This should be the minimum for what we expect from him every week. Stats? 2 tackles, PBU, Interception. That will work.
  • S James Williams. Kid is a FREAK. And he’s starting to play like it. 4 tackles and a PBU on the day.
  • QB Tyler Van Dyke was decidedly average today, but his best throw of the day was a 35 yard TD to Key’Shawn Smith on a flea flicker. Just **chef’s kiss**. Check it out.
  • Speaking of TVD, he was 20-29 passing for 241 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Thus ends his streak of consecutive 300+ yard. 2+ TD games against FBS competition at 6. And, in general, he just wasn’t his usual self. Van Dyke himself said as much in his post-game press session. “I missed some throws I don’t usually miss. I didn’t play especially well. And I need to step it up.” Van Dyke followed that up by saying “I’m happy we won, but I’m disappointed in myself (for my performance)”. I mean. Yeah. That says it all.
  • Adjustments. After letting USM start 5/7 on 3rd down, Miami’s defense tightened up to only allow the Golden Eagles to convert 1 of their last 8 opportunities on 3rd down.
  • And, furthermore, everything just POPPED in the second half. Offense scored points. Defense stifled the opponent. Miami outscored USM 20-0 in 2H. That’s more like it.
  • The return of both RB Jaylan Knighton and LT Zion Nelson. Both were on limited play counts as they return from injury, but it was good to see them both in game action ahead of next week’s top-15 matchup against Texas A&M.
  • A bit of variety from the offense. No, it wasn’t a fully open playbook (we’ll talk more about that later), but there were some fun things dialed up. Some jet motion. A couple end arounds. A flea flicker. A couple double moves in the passing game. Not everything hit, but the elements of variety started to show themselves this week. Which was needed.
  • OL/TE Anez Cooper. I list him at TE this week because he changed his number to 37 to be eligible, and was played as an extra blocking TE. And he played PHENOMENALLY in that role. Cristobal said the change this week was made to address C and D gap integrity vs what USM had shown on film. And this was something that worked in spades. Bravo to the staff, and bravo to Cooper, who is playing his way out of redshirting each and every day.
  • Special Teams. K Andres Borregales perfect on PATs, and FGs — hitting from 30, 33, and 40. Borregales was also great on kickoffs, pounding all but one through the endzone for touchbacks.
  • P Louis Hedley got his first action of the year, and picked up where he left off. 4 punts for 178 yards — a 44.5 yard average — and a long of 53. Ho hum. Great job, mate (said in my finest Australian accent).
  • 447 yards of offense — 256 passing, 191 rushing.
  • 22 first downs
  • 11.6 yards / completion
  • 10 chunk plays — 6 passes (15+), 4 runs (10+)
  • 79 offensive plays run (29 more than Southern Miss)
  • 4-4 redzone scoring
  • +2 turnover margin
  • 3 turnovers caused — 2 fumbles, 1 interception
  • 3 sacks
  • 6 TFLs
  • 4 PBUs
  • Held Southern Miss to 1 yard per carry. Uno.
  • Held Southern Miss to 24 yards rushing total.
  • 2-3 on 4th downs

The Bad

  • The lethargic start. That kind of thing isn’t going to be sustainable for Miami to be the kind of program they want to be, or to have the kind of success they want to have. And, to be honest, I don’t want to hear about Southern Miss “doing some different stuff from what they showed on film. Stop it. Be better.
  • Allowed 12 first downs. That’s way too many.
  • 6-16 on 3rd down. 37.5%. That’s not good enough, and that’s VERY MUCH not good enough against this caliber of competition.
  • Not to harp on it, but QB Tyler Van Dyke. He missed SEVERAL throws hit normally hits in his sleep. Things we’ve seen him do on film multiple times, even last week. That’s something that needs to get fixed ASAP.
  • Miami dropped about 3 or 4 interceptions today. DJ Ivey. Wesley Bissainthe. Gotta make those plays.
  • Miami’s transference of what they worked on from practice to game. Or maybe not the transference, but the development during practice. Cristobal said during the week and then post-game during his press availability that practice needs to be better. I believe the game we saw today is evidence of that fact. Because, simply put, there’s no way that this team practiced like a championship caliber team, then came out and played the way we saw today. Not a chance in the world. So the preparation AND the performance need improvement. Now.

The Ugly

  • Again, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad start. That’s some (insert former coach here) stuff. We can’t have that. And we DEFINITELY can’t have it next week. Fix it now.
  • Allowed Southern Miss to convert their first three 3rd downs on the day. That was BEFORE USM scored even, but still, very bad. Ugly even.
  • Allowed 6 chunk plays —5 passes (15+), 1 run (11 yards). This is particularly problematic since Cristobal said “we feel really good about our secondary” not even a fortnight ago.
  • In a return to a former theme, allowing a 1st time starting QB — a true freshman — to go 16-27 for 207 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT, and several nice runs and scrambles.
  • Backing up the previous point, this player threw 8 times vs Liberty, and USM as a whole threw it only 14 times in their opener — with 5 of their passes coming from running backs playing wildcat! Come. ON.
  • I hate to single out players, but CB Malik Curtis had a rough day. Getting his first career start, Curtis gave up a 3rd down conversion, followed by a long TD on consecutive plays in the 2nd quarter. So, basically, USM picked on him personally and exclusively and that’s how they scored their points today. That’s tough.
  • 4 sacks allowed, the first sacks of the year.
  • 7 penalties for 65 yards. Not good enough.
  • There were some REALLY BAD busts in the run-blocking by the OL as well. Tighten it up. Now.
  • And there were breakdowns in the run game because USM was selling out to stop the run and DARING Miami to beat them over the top. Uh........
  • WR’s not winning routes. SOMEBODY on the outside has to help TVD. Else, he’ll just keep on throwing to Restrepo, wherever he may be. And that’s fine, but that’s not the WR1 for a top 15 team. Sorry, it’s just not.
  • Will Mallory’s blocking. Tremendo yikes.
  • Again, 6-16 on 3rd down. Against Southern Miss. Ew.

Team Grades

Offense: D

This is where I start to get critical. TVD was clearly off today, even with solid-ish numbers. But, for a player on the top 10 of the Heisman Trophy odds, one who is being spoken of as a top 2 round NFL Draft pick, that’s not good enough. The run game was solid, if unspectacular. There were some flashes of good stuff, but the consistency was lacking. As was the explosion. Needs great — and immediate — improvement.

Defense: C+

Just look at everything I said in the narrative up top. I will say, however, that once the adjustments were made in 2H, this unit turned it up and went into lockdown mode on the opponent. But it took too long to get there. And there were still plenty of plays that should have been made....and weren’t.

Special Teams: A

Perfect kicking. Perfect punting. Incredible coverage. Not really any returns today, but ball security was at a premium, which matters. The only thing keeping this from being an A+ (or higher) is the lack of scoring TDs directly on a return. But it’s really crazy that, without a dedicated ST coach, this team has improved in this area by this much, this quickly, as compared to the recent past. Addition by subtraction, it seems.

Coaching: C+

Look, the beginning of the game was rough. ROUGH. But, the coaches came together, figured things out, changed some schemes, motivated their team, and got the performance they needed. Miami ended the game on a 27-0 run after USM went up 7-3. Not at all perfect, but the improvements make me confident (hopeful?) that things can continue to improve as we move forward. But, for now, there’s still plenty of work to be done, especially getting the team ready to play from the VERY BEGINNING of the game.

That’s it for this installment of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Hop in the comments and share your grades with the group!

Go Canes