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Greentree Grind- MTSU Week

It Never stops. The Greentree Grind MTSU week is here. The Canes didn’t get the result they wanted last weekend in a loss at Kyle Field against Texas A&M. The 17-9 slugfest showed some wrinkles from the offense, but it still proved that this team isn’t quite there yet. Mario Cristobal has made no excuses. In his press availability he has been consisting in stressing the performance must be better, and the focus of this team will continue to be “improvement.” Trust the process.

The bones of the last game were good. There is a lot to be excited about, and if you’re a Canes fan there is a lot of controllable things that can be fixed. The ceiling of this team is high in the ACC.

Miami will look to reload and show their week-to-week improvement against an overmatched Middle Tennessee State team that will look to test the Hurricanes via their Air Raid offense. The Canes have to continue to improve and take another step forward this week.

So here are five ways Miami can improve from Week 3 against Texas A&M to Week 4 against MTSU at Hard Rock Stadium.

1. RED ZONE OFFENSE

Say what you want about the game, but at the end of the day the Miami Hurricanes need to perform better in the red zone. Whether its penalties, drops, or conservative play calling, Miami must establish themselves as the team that controls the red zone. Going to the red zone 4 times and coming away with 9 points is a failure by any metric. The Canes will improve this area this weekend by executing better and giving their players chances to make plays in the endzon

2. STAY ATTACHED

The Canes passing game struggled severely against Texas A&M. The Aggies were missing some of their premier playmakers in the secondary and Miami was not able to take advantage because of the “little details.” For a staff that preaches, “How you do anything is how you do everything” the receiving core needs to embrace the little details of the passing game.

Proper releases, route depths, catching the football, & the quarterback delivering the ball on time. All these little things led to an ugly big thing: the Canes passing attack was missing. To improve this area, the receivers and TVD need to stay attached and get back on the same page.

3. OPEN FIELD TACKLING

The open field tackling in the last game was good overall. The run fits continue to be a strength of the front seven, and completing the mission of limiting the explosive players TAMU had was an encouraging sign. This game however, coming off a loss, and playing a lowly opponent will show just how locked in the back seven is.

MTSU will run their Air Raid attack which puts your back 7 in position to make a lot of open-field tackles (an area that the Miami defense obviously struggled with a season ago). The defense can continue to take another big leap forward by proving once again they can leverage the football as a defense, get hats to the ball, and make open-field tackles when the ball it spit out the edge.

4. EXPLOSIVE PLAYS

Miami is currently tied for 86th in the FBS for plays of 20 yards or more. Last week, it was actually refreshing to see the team methodically move the ball down the field. The Canes outrushed and outgained the Aggies, but it wasn’t enough. In the modern era of college football, games are often defined by explosive plays. Much like a heavy weight boxing match, when your opponent shows their chin, you need to take advantage.

Defensive coordinators will often RELY on college programs to eventually shoot themselves in the foot and play themselves out of a drive with drops, penalties, or negative plays. Explosive plays can cover a lot of that up. It is too difficult to be a great offense and rely on 10+ play drives consistently. To take the next step, Miami must improve in this area.

5. BROYLES AWARD ME…. AGAIN

The University of Miami made a statement last game by establishing the line of scrimmage against a young, but very talented defensive line in Texas A&M. The issue was clearly the passing game execution, red zone execution, and explosive plays. There were plays to be made all night, and the players certainly need to make them moving forward. However, Josh Gattis can implement some things to make life easier on TVD in the games to come.

This offseason, the staff heralded TVD’s ability to get Miami out of a bad play and into a good one. More RPO attachments to called runs accomplish that feat. They can hold creeping safeties and linebackers in place and allow your quarterback to operate in a world where he is always giving your offense the best chance for success. Similarly, the offense would be better suited for more called shots in the red zone.

Last week’s red zone offense was a debacle, but what even more head-scratching was the fact Miami never delivered a pass to the endzone. Not once. Whether those targets are to the receivers or the tight ends, I’m not in game planning meetings, but I would look for that to change this week.

It is time to take another step forward. The taste of defeat won’t go away with a win over Middle Tennessee State. The theme of this team needs to continue to be improving. With a well-positioned BYE week on the horizon, the Canes look to grow and be a better team when they face North Carolina October 8th than they were when they played Texas A&M.

Go Canes.

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About the Author: Jake Campbell

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