The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders were paid $1.5 million to roll into Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday afternoon and blow the doors off the Miami Hurricanes 45-31. And the game wasn’t even as close as the score makes it seem. MTSU came out hot with a 24-3 lead before Miami benefitted from a little home cooking by the referees on a phantom roughing the passer call right before halftime.
The Canyonero keys to victory were: 1a- Don’t come out flat. I think we can say Miami failed to live up to that key as Tyler Van Dyke turned the ball over twice to start the game, including a pick six.
1b- improve the kicking game. Key’Shawn Smith had a kick return for a touchdown, Andres Borregales was perfect on kicks and back up punter Will Hutchinson was excellent on his three tries.
2- Handle Jordan Ferguson. Ferguson logged four tackles, 1⁄2 a TFL, and a PBU. I would say Ferguson handled Miami. He also opened up space for his teammates to make plays.
3- Getting a WR open with Xavier Restrepo out. Along with his big kick return, K. Smith also averaged over 20 yards per catch against MTSU. Not too shabby from Smith but the tight ends and other receivers were a disappointment.
The most important stat is the final score, and MTSU dominated the scoreboard. The ‘Canes finished 7-of-20 on 3rd downs on offense, but did finish 5-of-8 on 4th downs. It’s just unreal that Miami had to attempt EIGHT fourth down conversions.
The Miami defense held MTSU to 3-of-12 on their own 3rd downs, but the Blue Raiders were 2-of-3 on 4th downs. The Kevin Steele defense allowed 507 yards to MTSU on Saturday and came away with only one turnover on a wet field, the Kam Kinchens beautiful interception.
I hope Josh Gattis is happy that Miami won the time of possession battle again, because that’s all he’s managing to win at Miami before he finds himself Dan Enos’d after the season. Michigan’s offense is 6th in Bill Connelly’s SP+ metrics through three weeks and just scored 34 more points against Maryland, a Power 5 team.
Miami won the penalty battle with MTSU picking up eight penalties (some a little questionable) and Miami was only penalized four times.
Tyler Van Dyke has looked off all fall since the change from Rhett Lashlee at OC/QB coach to Frank Ponce working with the QB’s and Josh Gattis as the OC. His upper and lower body don’t seem connected and his hips and feet are off while his releases are all over the clock.
When Van Dyke was pulled from the game, he was averaging only 4.3 yards per pass attempt with a TD and two INT’s. Jake Garcia stepped in to average 8.9 yards per attempt with no turnovers and just above 50% completion percentage.
It’s not that kosher to quote yourself, but, sometimes it’s the only way. When discussion the MTSU defense, I said the below quote in the Film Forecast:
The MTSU defense is opportunistic. They’re not a good team by any means, but certain aspects of the program standout, like their pass defense coming up with interceptions and PBU’s.
Boy was MTSU ever opportunistic. The Blue Raiders immediately picked off Van Dyke, and then did it again for a quick 10 point lead. They also forced a fumble on Jaylan Knighton and the first quarter ended with MTSU up 17-3.
It wasn’t just the passing game which still saw bad balls and ugly drops from Michael Redding III (is the III for his drops per game?) and Will Mallory. Miami’s to two backs Henry Parrish and Thad Franklin rushed for 4.1 and 2.4 yards per carry with Franklin scoring twice in short yardage situations. Parrish caught a TD to make the game respectable (can’t wait to be ripped for that word choice, leaving it in though!) on 4th down.
Above- Gattis loves condensed sets but puts two WR’s to the boundary in short distance and both break out on their route. I’m assuming this is either the worst drawn up concept or someone ran the wrong route.
Above- The CB can’t believe it, he can slow play this and jump either throw.
Above- You can see the full picture, two receivers in the same spot, CB has an easy job, Van Dyke never looks off.
Above- The pick 6. Van Dyke does look off this one, and the WR is wide open. But his arm angle is sidearm and MTSU clearly had a game plan to bat down balls at the line. This one just happens to go right to the big guy and he scores.
Above- Parrish bounces the 4th and 1 for a big gain. He’s someone that has that ‘old school’ mentality of personal pride in his work.
Above- Great play call here knowing MTSU is in man. It’s mesh and the back always comes free on mesh, right Fielder?
Above- Miami is so so so slow. They run slowly, they react slowly- Feeley is that much better than Feld?
Above- The one really good throw of the game here is from Jake Garcia. Nice little hitch and go from Smith.
Above- Why Will Mallory ran this route short of the end zone I’ll never know. But then he drops it anyway, he’s one of those old regime guys that will always have hype because he’s tall but is too slow, stiff, and weak to be an NFL caliber TE.
The Miami defense came away with two sacks and six TFL’s, but no hurries and no PBU’s all game. They had the one interception but no forced fumbles, either. A really bad Group of 5 program whooped Kevin Steele on Saturday afternoon. And Miami ‘won the TOP battle’ Gattis was so obsessed with, so don’t tell me the defense was tired from being on the field.
Above- Te’Cory Couch thinks it’s cover 3 and he’s got eyes on #1 threat that opens up for the “now.” Tyrique Stevenson thinks it’s cover 2, I’m guessing, and is late to realize he’s the deep 1⁄3 guy there.
Above- Couch could’ve derailed the route better if it’s really 3. If it’s 1⁄4 then Couch completely blows this.
Above- Flagg, my dude, you have THREE defenders and the sideline if you push 83 outside, you have this much leverage... but he gets inside of you.
Above- Another clip of Miami tackling themselves, too. It’s like Manny Diaz never left. Diaz is at home on Duolingo learning how to say ‘told ya so’ en espanol.
Above- Reasons I like empty inside the 10 yard line. MTSU makes Miami cover 53 1⁄3 and there’s no one in the middle of the field to defend the QB counter.
Above- Senseless Manny style blitz into the pile and MTSU scores.
Above- this isn’t a trick play, there’s no coverage switches... this is just getting beat by foot speed. Miami probably hasn’t sprinted at max velocity in months.
Another quote from the MTSU Film Forecast that feels a bit eerie on Sunday morning:
DJ Ivey played a hell of a ball game and you want to see more and more of it. Now that his confidence is there, it’s time to shine no. 8! Don’t allow these deep balls to get by you.
Above- I know a few OC’s who love to max protect and throw up a one or two man concept deep ball when backed up -10 and even -5 like MTSU. They knew if they had time to throw it that DJ Ivey was going to get toasted by their WR.
I think we’re all done talking about the game. I have a few ‘hopes’ for the rest of my time (I mean, I’ll get fired one day, right?) at SOTU:
1- Everyone agrees to slow their role on the hype machine from now on re players. The Greentree all-star rumors you pretend you saw in person, or pretend you know someone who is there, and it’s just message board BS, can just stop being spread around. More than likely you don’t know football, your alleged source doesn’t either, just stop.
2- The next head coach won’t get unreasonable hype heading into their first season. I think we knew this was a 9’ish win team, the issue is losing to MTSU is unacceptable. UNC and Texas A&M? Sure. Not MTSU. The schedule calls for 9-10 wins but that’s over now. Can’t drop one to MTSU and pull off 9-10 with FSU, Clemson and UNC left on the schedule and already having two losses.
But again, the guy hired his old strength coach after the Oregon Ducks were oft-injured and lost to unranked teams every season. Then he hired two out of work DC’s and Dan Enos’d Gattis away from Jim Harbaugh who is still scoring without him.
The chute and bag drills had me concerned, some DB drills with finger points vs covering threats did too. All of the talk about #GrindSZN wasn’t good.
3- You trust me more about strength and conditioning hires. BigGameBoomer or whatever doesn’t know as much as the average fan does about the S&C coach. And it’s clear Aaron Feld wouldn’t be ranked above David Ballou on a 3rd grader’s S&C list.
4- The injury bug isn’t a thing. Injuries are based on contact (if they’re contact injuries) + previous injuries + load management + S&C + rest and recovery. Miami is still recovering from the 150 play scrimmages in camp, the lack of focus on rest and recovery, and the blatant lack of focus on speed and reaction time.
5- Stop worshipping the logo. “I trust the coaches over you, bruh.” That’s nice, do you still trust them? Did anything I predicted come true? All false?
If Manny Diaz hadn’t managed to lose to an FIU program that still hasn’t beaten an FBS team since, this would be Miami’s worst loss in program history. Think about that. It took an all-timer boner from Diaz to one up this disaster of a start for Mario Cristobal. But they won the time of possession battle! I hope “Coach Mario” is better coming off of a bye week than Manny Diaz was in his time at Miami or UNC will hang 60 on this defense.