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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Texas A&M Aggies Edition

The Canes came up short on the road in SEC country. Let’s discuss.


So. Yeah.

Miami went on the road to face Texas A&M on Saturday night and lost 17-9.

Mike Schiffman pulled double duty with both the game recap and 3 stars. Both pieces are linked below:

Also, a quick apology. My power went out on Saturday night. I believe it was 11 accounts — including mine — were affected. This happened in the early part of the 4th quarter and lasted until Sunday morning. That’s why I’m a bit later than normal with G/B/U this week. Sorry for the delay.

With all of that out of the way, let’s get into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good

  • Early adjustments from the coaching staff. Particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Miami saw some things that were working, and others that weren’t, and made immediate changes. Previous staffs would have waited until halftime so I’m pleased with the immediate effect and implementation here.
  • RBs Jaylan Knighton and Henry Parrish. The pair of backs had 77 and 85 yards rushing, respectively, and were pretty much the best part of the offense on the day. Parrish runs bigger than his size, and Knighton’s combination of speed and quickness can be lethal.
  • The Offensive Line. Apart from a couple penalties (hey, it happens), this was a very strong showing from the OL. 3 TFLs allowed and no sacks allowed on the day. That speaks to the very good run blocking and solid pass protection.
  • The defense. Held Texas A&M to 17 points. Allowed only 2 drives of 50+ yards. One of the touchdown drives allowed was 28 yards. 6 TFLs. 5 PBUs. 3 sacks. Physical play all over the field. Yeah, Miami lost the game, but it wasn’t because of the defense. Solid work.
  • CB D.J. Ivey. His performance hasn’t always matched his prototypical physical build, but it did on Saturday night for Ivey. 3 tackles, and 2 PBUs, both on crucial 3rd down attempts by TAMU. This was probably the best game he’s played as a Cane, and I’m going to be as loud with the credit as I was with the critique. Really a great job by Ivey. Well done.
  • DT Leonard Taylor. The star sophomore defender continues to show his 5-star talent on a weekly basis. He was only credited with 1 tackle (a TFL) and 1 QB hurry, but he was way more impactful than that. He was living in the TAMU backfield, and his performance allowed others’ stats to be bigger. He’s so good.
  • S James Williams. Another 5-star player living up to that billing. A team-high 7 tackles and 2 PBUs. A stellar performance from one of the leaders of the team.
  • S Kamren Kinchens. Solid play and a couple GREAT tackles in open space on TAMU RB Devin Achane, who has 10.2 speed, and used it on a few plays. Bravo.
  • P Louis Hedley. 3 punts for 147 yards — a 49ypp average — with 1 punt going 50+ and 1 being downed inside the 20. He’s good. And we’ve seen not-good punting here before. So enjoy Hedley while we have him.
  • 27 first downs
  • 4.9 yards per carry
  • 175 yards rushing
  • 6 TFL
  • 3 PBU
  • 3 sacks
  • Allowed 2 offensive drives longer than 50 yards.
  • 34:20 time of possession
  • 10.3 yards per completion
  • Outgained TAMU by 128 yards
  • 77 offensive plays. This is the kind of number I want to see, but the tempo and success could have been better, for sure.
  • 12 chunk plays — 6 passes (15+), 6 runs (10+)
  • Held TAMU to 4-12 on 3rd down

The Bad

  • Losing. It sucks. I hate losing.
  • Run fits early in the game, particularly the first drive. This got better as the the game went on (shoutout to the early adjustments) but I just want more consistency here. Looking at you, linebackers.
  • 3-4 red zone scoring. This should be 100%, always.
  • 5.1 yards per play.
  • Allowed 16 first downs to a BAD Texas A&M offense.
  • Allowed 12 chunk plays (5 passing, 7 rushing) to this TAMU offense. Ew.

The Ugly

  • Tyrique Stevenson muffing an early TAMU punt — after a 3 and out no less — leading to first the Aggies’ first touchdown. Call me dramatic if you want, but this play cost Miami the game. This was an easy 10-14pt swing, gifted the struggling Aggies offense a 28 yard field to drive, and just flipped all the momentum away from Miami. For a leader on this team, for someone who played at Georgia (and wasn’t just on the roster, he PLAYED) and now here, this is inexcusable. It was the most impactful play of the game in terms of expected points added (or in this case subtracted), and win percentage. Just a colossal blunder the likes of which cannot be overstated.
  • Multiple instances of TAMU holding Miami defenders at the point of attack not being called. “RB finds room”.....running in the space created by a lineman holding. That’s a little infuriating to see. But the defense was able to overcome most of them. Yet and still, refs need to make the calls.
  • 4 missed tackles on the Achane TD catch. Atrocious. This is how not meeting the standard on one play can change the game.
  • The return of receivers dropping the ball. Tyler Van Dyke wasn’t perfect. But at one point he was 6/13 passing with 4 dropped passes comprising more than half the incompletions. Terrible.
  • Just to wrap this up, I believe Miami receivers had 7 total drops on the day. This included a drop on the final offensive play of the game for Miami, which would have extended the final drive. That’s simply not good enough. Speaking of which....
  • RB Henry Parrish had a BAAAAAAADDDDDD drop on a 3rd down play. Parrish was running a crossing route, had come WIDE OPEN, would have gotten a first down if not scored untouched had he just caught the damn ball that hit him in the hands. Again, 1 play made a WORLD of difference. In a bad way.
  • QB Tyler Van Dyke. Look, there were drops. But there were also plenty of throws that were simply not good enough from Miami’s signal caller. 21/41 passing for 217 yards with no TDs and no INTs. I wrote it last week, but Miami has to find explosive plays in the passing game, and to do that, TVD has to figure out what’s wrong with him and start making some throws.
  • 7 penalties for 52 yards. Again, gotta play clean to win.
  • A blocked FG.
  • A missed FG.
  • WR drops. I just want to say it again cuz it’s that important.
  • 4 redzone trips, 0 touchdowns. That, quite literally, is how you lose.
  • 5-14 on 3rd down.
  • 0-1 on 4th down — and yes, this was a drop with the game on the line, in case you were wondering.
  • A continued lack of explosive plays on offense. For reference: purple is bad, green is good. So while you see the explosive play rate for Miami is still quite bad, you’ll notice TAMU’s chart is VERY purple. This should have been a win:
  • Miami set a record since 2000 for having the most first downs in a game while simultaneously not scoring a touchdown. So that’s cool.
  • A couple other tweets, that just re-re-reinforce the fact that Miami really actually controlled the game, and played well enough to win. But they came up short in the big moments and well...

Team Grades

Offense: D-

Sure, there were things to like, but 4 redzone trips with no touchdowns? 5-14 on 3rd down? Drop after drop after drop? A very talented QB looking like he doesn’t know what he’s doing when it’s time to throw the ball? DID I MENTION THE DROPS?!?!?!?! That’s simply not good enough.

Also, if Miami wants to be a smashmouth team under Cristobal, and the Canes were averaging nearly 6 yards per carry, why did they go away from the run? Just for vibes? I know Josh Gattis tried to dial up some shot plays in the passing game. But TAMU never flinched and played perfect coverage against all of them, forcing TVD to check it down. And with the struggles passing, why not just keep leaning on them and run the ball down their throat?! I just don’t get how/why Miami went away from the run, when it was clearly working, and it clearly worked for TAMU’s previous opponent, as well.

Defense: B+

The only thing keeping this from being an A is the fact that, regardless of how it happened, the Canes allowed TAMU to score 2 touchdowns. But, beyond that, everything from ypp to money down conversion rate to Havoc rate to TFLs to Sacks indicated an elite performance. There was so much good here on defense, that it sickens me that the offense let them down so badly. This defense should be proud of the work they did on Saturday and look to spin that forward for future wins this season.

Special Teams: F

Louis Hedley was the bright spot here on Saturday. But beyond that, Stevenson’s muffed punt really cost Miami the game by gifting TAMU free points. And Miami missed a FG. And had another one blocked. Really disgusting stuff from the special teams.

Coaching: C-

This was a step forward from what we’ve seen with previous coaching staffs, because the performances they led were fireable offenses. This was simply not good enough. Cristobal was way too conservative in the moments that mattered. Kicking a FG down 17-6? Why? For who? For what? Defense was ballin’. Go for it and either score or leave TAMU 95+ yards to go. WHICH THEY WOULDN’T. Adjustments throughout the game were okay, but even those couldn’t overcome the litany of dropped passes.

Miami not only belonged on Saturday, they pretty soundly dominated the game. Except on the scoreboard, and that’s the part that matters. Mario Cristobal and this staff aren’t perfect, and there’s work to be done, but this was a damn sight better than we’d seen from Miami in this kind of spot for more than a decade, so credit there where it’s due. Still, I’m looking for plenty of improvement from the staff moving forward. It’s what they expect from the players so it’s what I’m expecting from them, too.

Yeah. That was a tough one. And, one that Miami rightfully should have won. But they didn’t. And onward we go.

That does it for this installment of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Hop in the comments and share your thoughts, now that you’ve had a full day and a half to let them settle in your brain.

Go Canes