Miami vs. Bethune Film Review

Finally, a game to review. The Miami Hurricanes under Mario Cristobal are in the books and coach is officially 1-0. How did it look on film? Find out with me as we walk through many of the plays. If you read the Roffers’ Rundown, some of these plays will look familiar as well.

Darrell Jackson should make a nice impact on the team this season, but this is poor technique that will cause a lot of issues with vision for him. Ducks his head immediately and just tries to burrow into the OL.

Play was called back due to a penalty, but Flagg completely loses vision on his receiver. Harvey even sees the TE in motion coming across and gives him a chuck, but Flagg stares down the RB long after the fake has occurred and never does cover the TE. A TE that should’ve been red circled as someone to contain on their offense.

This is one that should be a gif, but Mesidor plays the QB on the read, then is quick and athletic enough to re-trace and make the tackle on the RB trying to go to the C-gap. A still picture doesn’t do it justice, but Mesidor was impressive on this play.

The 3rd-and-23 that everyone talked about during the game was as bad as you would expect on film. Here, Tyrique is passing this WR running shallow drag across the middle to Flagg. He yells and gives him the hand motion that he is leaving his zone and he drops into cover-4 as he should do in this defense if he has a WR leave his zone. Flagg has his eyes glued on the QB, worried about a QB draw, but his responsibility is to get wider on this coverage so he can pursue.

Ivey was the main issue on this play, as his big responsibility is to be a force player on the edge. What that means is he needs to force any receiver back inside to his help defenders. He comes in at a far too flat angle and gives up the sideline, the one thing he cannot do. He’s running to where the WR is and not where he’s going. If he just runs in two yards to his right, this is a punt. Instead, he gets caught inside and actually blocks Couch and takes both of them out of the play. Kinchens takes a poor angle inside, when James Williams had pursuit so he just needs to stay outside. Three players had to make a mistake on this one for them to pick it up and they did. Coaches called the right defense, but the players did not execute at all. Final note on this play is that Al Blades Jr. was in on the three-safety defense and not Avantae Williams. Just something I noticed on the play.

Flagg drops to a spot (though I believe his landmark is one yard deeper at six yards) and Steed is watching the QB in case he runs. My guess is Steed is anticipating the QB to run through the gap as he sees pressure coming and a wide rush from Agude. If one of the LB’s reads the eyes and jumps it, this is a pick. Kinchens missed a tackle and Steed had to run him down. James Williams grabbed Flagg by the face after this play ended.

If Ivey didn’t make the mistake earlier in the drive and let the WR outside of him, he wouldn’t be here putting this play on film. You can see why he misses tackles with this technique, as he’s bent over at the waist, but also coming across the man and not through the ball carrier. You don’t tackle in tabletop pose. What I want to point out and is another play that should be a gif, is that #81 runs down this WR and prevents the TD. That’s right, he retraces from a double-team at the LOS and catches this WR down the sideline from behind at the 11-yard line. That’s a pretty freaky athletic play.

Leonard Taylor takes on a block, sheds the blocker, goes to a knee, gets up and tackles the QB behind the LOS on a play. I didn’t picture it, but wanted to give him some shine on the play.

QB misses a read here on 3rd down. Split safeties and the first read is #13. When you see James Williams coming over from that side of the field you know you have the post. S doesn’t have the depth and is cheating towards your first read. Instead of taking this walk-in TD he tries to hit the scramble drill to the TE covered by Steed. Steed does a nice job of getting his hands into the TE’s hands to knock the ball away or it would’ve been a TD anyway. Really not the type of defensive drive you want to start the season with. Decent QB has a TD here.

I promise I’m not going to do every play, but I like doing the plays at the beginning of games like this because you have more starters in the plays to review. Here, Chase Smith has an excellent block, James Williams is stealing someone’s soul. Chantz Williams with a nice kickout block at the 20-yard line wearing number 13. Avantae Williams is blocking between Williams and Chase Smith. Markeith Williams out there on the sideline making a block. Frierson with a nice block. Arroyo being physical. Avery Huff leads Smith all the way down the sideline. Brian Balom out there. When you look at recruiting, you’ll see a bunch of safeties, tight ends, and linebackers recruited and the thought might pass your mind that we don’t have enough snaps for them to play. This is where they can play immediately. Safeties, tight ends, and linebackers make up the majority of your special teams units. Restrepo is leading through the hole and has a borderline block, but Keyshawn looked shot out of a cannon. I’ve opined for a few years how the special teams at Miami has fallen so far. Here, you have some legit starters playing kickoff return and giving it everything they have.

To this point, Miami has liked running “Stick” on short yardage plays. TVD tries to hit Mallory who sees that he is being covered and continues on the out route, rather than settling into a zone spot if uncovered. Incomplete.

If you listed to the OBB podcast with Coach Mirabal on, you heard about him teaching the “Gallop Step” which is used here by Rivers to knock the DT back inside so that the C can reach him. This allows him to stay square on the LB as he gets to the second level. Parrish reads this block and get outside for a nice gain.

Rivers turns his man, Mallory gets shocked backwards, but anchors and holds just long enough for Parrish to make a jump cut and score a TD. Parrish has excellent vision thus far and a really nice jump cut. He looks legit if he can protect his legs from some of the low shots he took in this game.

Just to continue the special teams theme from earlier, Mammarelli is the FG protector on LT side and Lichtenstein and Elijah Roberts are the protectors on the RT side. (Full line L-R: Mammarelli, Oluwaseun, Scaife, Campbell, Clay James, Rivers, Clark, Lichtenstein, Roberts)

On the kickoff, Flagg gets an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

First down and Jackson hits the G with a long-arm to knock him back, then goes with an arm-over to get into the gap and splits the double-team of G/C to pressure the QB. Caleb Johnson has the QB responsibility but overruns it badly and allows the QB back into the MOF. That’s the one place Johnson cannot give up there. Roberts gets off his block and runs the QB down. Bad play by Johnson, but it shows the upside of Jackson if he can use his hands this well in the pass rush department.

I show some good and then some bad as Darrell Jackson gets turned around on this play. Not sure if he lost sight of the ball or what he’s doing here.

Run a long twist here with Mesidor looping around and Chantz Williams coming around and they sort of run into each other. James Williams comes on that long SS blitz we have seen for years. Chantz still gets there to pressure the QB who threw it up to no man’s land. What a catch by Kinchens. He stands up and spikes the ball, getting a second unsportsmanlike penalty in a span of three plays, which is why Mario got so heated I believe.

This is a loss for Mallory. We don’t tackle in table top pose and we don’t block in table top pose. If this were a gif you’d see this LB toss Mallory to the ground. Franklin breaks a tackle from #2 and gets to the edge.

Here is another technique issue with Mallory on this play. The play is clearly designed to be an outside zone run. Mallory has to get his right leg in-between the legs of the defender and his right hand into the sternum of the defender so that he can turn him (we call it a reach block as well). He gets pushed into the backfield and #53 has to help him on this block which seals the edge and forces Franklin back inside directly to the LB in the hole. The player that Clark could’ve tried to block if he didn’t have to help Mallory.

Miami runs a neat little end-around to Brashard Smith that had the potential to be a big play with Arroyo leading the run, but Restrepo couldn’t hold his block so Arroyo had to take his man, which left the S free to run the alley and get Smith down after six yards. Keyshawn Smith had a nice block on the play. Arroyo originally chipped #7 and then got out to this second block. If Restrepo keeps that block, Arroyo gets to the next level on that safety and it’s possible Smith splits that gap and takes this one to the house.

Mallory lacks an initial punch that gets him pushed back quite often. Here, he gets shocked backwards, which messes up th timing for Rivers as the puller on the counter. Parrish makes a nice cut and still gets the first down, but better teams will exploit this.

You want to endear yourself to your coaches as a RB? Make blocks like this one here. Franklin cleans this DE out so badly by himself, Scaife has no one to hit because the DE is five yards backwards. TVD has a clean pocket and throws a strike from the far hash all the way across the field to Ladson. That was an NFL throw but don’t forget the block from Franklin.

This is one of the hits I referred to earlier when I said that Parrish needs to protect his legs at contact. Stay healthy, young man.

Mammarelli with the excellent block here completely washing the DE inside. Excellent technique to get power from your base. Parrish with the jump cut and a TD. Mammarelli getting my attention in this game with his blocking efforts. Campbell and Rivers with a duo and then Campbell releases to second level. Parrish with patience and vision. He’s looked great.

Swing pass to RB and Caleb Johnson is there for a big TFL but stops his feet. RB cuts inside of him and Johnson doesn’t get him down for six yards. Bit of a disappointing play, where you want to see your MLB be a bit more physical on this one. Next play is a 3rd and 1 and Frierson knifes into backfield and makes the play for a TFL. Mesidor takes on a double-team and moves the OL backwards. Punt.

Miami runs a post-corner to Restrepo that takes a long time to develop. TVD is reading that middle safety that is too far into the middle because he sees Restrepo initially releasing inside. TVD knows he won’t be able to get back outside in time to contest this pass and he drops over that field CB and in front of the S who is trying to get back into the play. Probably should’ve been a TD but Restrepo trips at the 10-yard line.

Seems easy when you can freeze it on an elevation angle, but in the midst of the giants this is a difficult cutback to see. Parrish really showed his vision in this game. Looks at Rivers sealing his man off and pushing him several yards downfield.

Parrish makes the unblocked LB miss and scores a TD. Knighton will want to heal up quickly after the coaches watch this tape. Hat tip to Brinson making a key block in the end zone. That’ll get you on the field more often. Scaife taking the edge and throwing him out of the club. DE was pushed into the end zone from the LOS.

This is going to be underappreciated by many because the stats don’t go by his name, but Mesidor made this play. Look how he plays the read first, then sits down when he sees the QB go into his throwing motion. He jumps when he throws the ball and tips it. Mesidor is protecting throws to both #1 and #13 here by being in the lane. Frierson gets the tip and walks into the end zone. Such a nice play by Mesidor.

You are seeing some hand usage from the DL that maybe we didn’t see in past years. Leonard Taylor with a snatch-and-rip here as they try to duo he snatches the OL and then pulls him forward so he can disengage and split the gap. Jackson stands up two OL at the LOS and doesn’t move at all. Agude got the edge then rips under the armpit of the OT while grabbing the wrist to get the arm down. Miami eats this run play.

When Miami is running this loop with Mesidor from outside-in it has been effective. He comes clean here to pressure the QB. The problem is that #32 has to understand his role here is to be contain and not let that QB get outside of him. It’s called “pinching” the pocket when you have an athletic QB. Kelly lets the QB outside, who gets the first down. Kelly was held when he tried to disengage from the OT, not called. Want to give some shine to Harvey, who is rushing against the RT on this play and he runs all the way around and is actually the one who makes the tackle on the QB from behind.

Avantae Williams flat whiffs on a tackle here. Mesidor collapses the OT, leaves Williams clean in the hole with a bouncing RB and Williams grabs air here. Won’t love this clip in film. Harvey, rushing against the LT, runs the RB down at the 15-yard line. That kid has really came to play from an effort standpoint. Play was called back due to a block-in-the-back but it should’ve been a TFL.

Unblocked blitz by Flagg and he just doesn’t have the speed. The QB outruns him (remember, the LB is already running full speed and the QB is stopped when he sees the LB coming free). QB runs around the end and gets the first down. Some of these jumbo packages on the DL will expose a lack of foot speed at times.

Agude makes a very nice move at the LOS to do an arm-over on the OT who almost fell down. Agude has a free rush at the QB and just comes in too hot and allows the QB to spin away. You can be encouraged by the hand usage and skills being shown on the DL or be discouraged by the fact they didn’t finish enough and let the QB outside too often.

Agude beats his man inside immediately and forces the QB to throw the ball right to Keontra Smith, who drops the interception.

The absolute perfect play-call for the defensive play-call Miami sent in. Miami blitzes James Williams, who comes clean because they have a wheel route to the RB. Keontra Smith is also being sent on a blitz and the RB releases clean. With the WR’s running inside routes draws all the coverage from that side into the middle. Miami is in man-defense so no defender is out there and it’s a walk-in TD.

Thad will knock you out on these chip plays. He put this DE on the ground. Play was called back because Mallory lined up incorrectly, but I wanted to highlight Thad being a hammer on the edges again.

Jalen Rivers on the pull is a menace. He forklifts this guy like a bully lifting up a new kid at school. Arroyo is the lead blocker through the hole and cleans up a LB. If Scaife doesn’t trip and gets that kickout block at the LB, this could be a huge run.

Franklin hit #96 at the 46 and knocked him two full yards backwards. It was so hard Franklin just blocked him by himself and Scaife helped Justice instead of blocking the DE because he had been erased. Leaves an easy pocket for TVD to hit Restrepo.

Franklin breaks through all three of these defenders and busts a big run. The kid is so talented in multiple ways if he can earn the coaches trust. Rivers could’ve done a better job on the pull in power, as the guy grabbing Thad here shed his block.

Restrepo catches a stop-and-go for an easy TD.

This is an example of using long arms to get push when an OL exposes their chest. JHH has this OL on skates and can easily shed him if the ball is handed off. We call this OL a “dead bug.” Instead, Flagg does a nice job of identifying the TE leaking into the flat (a play he did not diagnose to start the game). Well done.

Something that makes Mesidor so dangerous is how quick his hands are and how well he swats away the attempted punch of an OL. G tries to punch, Mesidor swats it away, OL falls off-balance, Mesidor splits them while JHH is the looper. Mesidor gets the sack. If he didn’t get the sack, Agude had the RT beat with more nice hand usage on the outside. He’s flashed to me. Their QB has an awful habit of dropping his eyes and looking at the rush.

Really good three play sequence for Mallory. Play one, he releases downfield and there is a run to his side and he makes a nice block on the move in the secondary. Next play, he releases into a pass pattern from the FB/H-Back position and then makes a few players miss. On the goal line he gets to the second level and walls off a defender for Parrish to score. Well done.

Another nice play for Agude here. He uses a long-arm to knock the OL back, forcing the RB to bubble. OL has to hold him to prevent a TFL (play is backed up due to the hold anyway). Darrell Jackson has the C three yards into the backfield as well. Steed needs to be a step faster to identify here as the TE releases onto him and he can’t get to the edge.

They tried to block Mesidor with a TE and it did not go well for the TE. Mesidor looks like he’s dragging a misbehaved child by the scruff of their neck and makes the TFL.

If you read my articles you already know how much I value and talk about special teams. The hidden yards in the game add up to victories and the difference in how the specials looked against Bethune and what we saw in seasons past is startling. Avantae kicking out, Chase Smith demolishing his guy, Huff using his speed to get out front, Chantz Williams crunching dudes. Keyshawn Smith showed legit burst and speed but he’s not even getting touched for 20+ yards on these returns. The circle on the 25 is actually the penalty against Bethune.

Miami is going to run a bunch of loops, stunts, games upfront. Here James Williams blitzes again and he runs into the back of Agude who is looping inside. Williams has to understand when he is the blitzer outside and there is a looper inside, he is now the edge. He has to contain the QB. He loses that contact here and the QB gets outside.

Roberts gets skinny and splits a double-team here. He forces the QB to drop his eyes and panic. Nyjalik Kelly uses a long arm and then swats the wrist away of the OL. A true freshman making technical plays like this show how advanced he is. Moultrie is the looper and comes in and cleans up for the sack as he comes free. Thomas Davis does his job and beats the LT as well.

Finally, I want to show that the alpha of this defense is undoubtedly James Williams. Here, Williams is taking Flagg to task for blowing the zone coverage on the first drive.

Here is James Williams grabbing Flagg by the face two plays later when he is getting into it with a Bethune player.

Flagg got an unsportsmanlike penalty three plays later on the kickoff. Sigh.


There were some things for Miami to clean up from this game. They will need to block on the edges better at times. They need to identify receivers running their zone better at times. Miami will need to tackle better than this game.

To me, there were multiple items on tape that get you excited.

  • Special teams looked better than they have in years
  • Mesidor looks like an impact addition with his power, hand usage, versatility, and intelligence
  • Agude brings juice and experience on the edge
  • James Williams and Kam Kinchens look legit
  • Rivers is already a people mover and is a perfect fit for this offense
  • TVD showing last year was not a fluke
  • Darrell Jackson is a problem in the middle of this defensive line

I’ll have an article out later in the week talking about players that were up and players with more to prove, so be on the lookout for that soon.

About the Author: Lance Roffers

Data science is all about asking interesting questions based on the data you have. Film study is all about understanding what actually happened on the field. Hopefully I can find the right balance between the two and bring you interesting insights that grow our knowledge of the game together.

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