Miami vs. MTSU Film Review

“It was a very, very dark night. You know, one of the lowest points ever in this proud programs history. I take full ownership of that, full responsibility for the way that we played…We’ve gotta do a lot better job of coaching our guys…Everything is under review.

Some of the fixes will have to be coming in recruiting.

We did have to challenge players to match their intensity and to play with effort.”

“Tonight was a poor job by me. Poor job by our organization. They coached better than us, they played better than us…We’ve gotta do a lot better job setting them up for success…They have a great passing attack, they caught us in man coverage. We have to analyze that…was that the right matchup.

You really gotta be a man about this stuff.”

The more that things change, the more that they stay the same. The first block quote is from Manny Diaz on 11/23/19 after the loss to FIU. The second block quote comes from Coach Cristobal after the loss to MTSU. Essentially, they’re saying the same things and hitting on the same key notes. How did we get here, again?

Film Review

The Miami Hurricanes film is not pretty this week. Miami decided to play the Air-Raid offense that MTSU runs through pure man-to-man coverage and press to the boundary. As we will see as we go along, this was one of many major tactical errors in this football game.

We get into the first of what would be a litany of technique errors if we showed them all. The CB has outside leverage and is in man. WR runs a hitch. CB should be working to stay on that inside hip so he can defend this route. Instead he stays far outside and then closes in a straight-line. This was a step away from being a TD as Tyrique overruns this and the two chase defenders take far too shallow of an angle and are running horizontally towards the WR. They get him down, but the aerial angle shows there was nothing behind this.

Miami was absolutely not prepared to play in this game, as MTSU comes out playing fast and energized. Here, Miami loses their rush lanes, edge gets trapped outside and the OL collapses the rest of the DL inside. This is as big of a running lane as you will ever see. Again, one defender from a TD. Through sheer variance, if you get caught in x number of situations where you are one defender away from a big play, then you can expect y number of them to result in just that. Miami found out the hard way in this game. Safe to say, I strongly disagree with the defensive gameplan employed this week.

When I watch film, it isn’t just to watch scheme or formations, or route concepts. You can also see energy, effort, and who is playing tougher. This is Leonard Taylor beating his blocker and getting into the backfield. This is a 3rd down play that they run the ball. Make the play and get off-the-field. The RB avoids Taylor, then gets the edge. Where is the pursuit? Why are you giving up your edge to the top of the screen? This goes for a 1st down on a play that should’ve lost yardage. All day long MTSU showed they were tougher, more energetic, and more ready to play.

#12 gets tackled by an OT who grabs him from behind, pulls his jersey over his shoulder pads with an official staring at it. Not sure how that wasn’t called, but it goes incomplete. Not shown.

I’m sure you will see my X’s & O’s brother Roman break this down on his Student of the Game series, but I’ll give my take as well. To me, I think TVD expected this to be man coverage as he’s staring down Mallory on the out route and sees he has separation on the LB. He has to be expecting the outside CB to carry Redding outside. You can see from all of the MTSU defenders just watching the eyes of TVD that this is zone and he’s throwing a ball directly into the zone that Mallory is entering and the CB easily picks it. My problem with the route concepts is this is all outs (mirrored outs on both sides). What is the reward for this concept at all? Will Mallory is a nice player, but the best you can hope for here is a 5-yard gain. There is no explosive element to this offense, or really even an attempt to do so. Letting a boundary CB be able to easily defend two receivers at once and have an interception on either is just poor concepts. TVD stared it down and threw it right to him, but he didn’t get much help.

The pick-6, again the defenders just followed the eyes of TVD. The route was open to Arroyo, but #7 really made a great play. He first re-routes Mallory off-the-line, comes off it, follows the eyes of TVD, gets his hand up, tips it, then intercepts it and goes in for a TD. TVD is already looking at his one read right now and brings the defender right to it. A one-read QB against zone defense is like catnip. As an aside, but the DT took #70’s man-card on this play, as he bullied him a full five-yards into the backfield. He now owns the card for #70 and never did return it this game.

I’ll speed this up here soon and just highlight the most egregious plays, but here is another example of Mallory not getting a block. He is responsible for the kick-out block on the edge here as this is a designed cutback run. Also, watch that same DT with the low-knee bend and our OL duo not moving him an inch to give a better angle for the cutback. That DT is dug-in and Miami OL doesn’t move him. Result is a TFL by the edge.

The Miami players were beaten in this game, no doubt, but the MTSU coaches absolutely beat the Miami coaches in this game as well. Here, MTSU brings pressure and a line call was not made correctly, or it wasn’t identified by the QB, because we have Arroyo blocking nobody to the top of the screen and MTSU running free to the QB/RB at the bottom. Scaife has to block two defenders and actually blocks neither. Look at the MTSU secondary on a run as well, nobody is concerned with their receiver at all, all eyes are in the backfield. Not concerned with Miami’s passing game one iota.

This is a smart play by the MTSU DT, who is holding Rivers so he can’t get off this block and take the MLB. Rivers has to extend his arm and prevent this from happening here, but his responsibility is that MLB and he’s not getting there. He walks through the hole and makes a TFL. If Rivers just goes straight to the MLB and gets that block, there is an opportunity there. Knighton then fumbles the ball and MTSU has it again. Sigh.

I would like for Miami’s defensive coaches to get the safeties into more zone coverage with the ability to have eyes on the QB. That is when you get interceptions far more than man-coverage. Here, Kinchens has eyes on the QB the entire way and sees him wanting to roll and throw the ball. He gets the interception on a very good play. That said, the MTSU missed a TD here. He’s staring down the crosser, but his first read once he starts to scramble should’ve been the post and he absolutely has it for a TD. Ivey is caught looking into the backfield as the WR is even with him and if the QB just throws it out there, it’s easy six.

Note to Coach Gattis: when the defensive line is jumping every run fake, you cannot expect a pulling G to get there on the edge. The play goes incomplete to Mallory, whom our OC has decided to feature as a weapon, but it was blown up here. Mallory has to slow down and avoid the pulling G to get into his route. Stop pulling the G against these one-gapping aggressive defenses.

MTSU is sitting in a cover-3 zone and just daring Miami to beat them with the pass. This is a game setup to throw for 500 yards and Miami absolutely couldn’t do it. The OL couldn’t pick up simple pressure. The QB couldn’t make simple throws. The WR’s couldn’t beat coverage. The coaches called an awful game. Simple, really.

This play is blown up because Mallory got driven into the backfield in the way of the puller. If Mallory can just hold that edge so that Justice can get around it without bubbling, there is an explosive chance here. I honestly do not know why Justice is ladder-shuffling along the line here instead of running, but that’s a question for the coaches.

MTSU has all 11 players within seven yards of the LOS on a 2nd down run. Goes nowhere. There is zero explosive element to this offense. Enos-esque. Not shown.

3rd-and-5 and you throw an in-cut to your RB with a free rusher to that side and this couldn’t be any easier for the DE to knock down. TVD has to know he is responsible for that free rusher on this play and he stares it down immediately and then just throws the ball six foot high. If the DE doesn’t raise his hands it hits him in the head. Woof. To me, this is the look of your dreams on this play with a WR in the slot and no LB’s, this is a check to a slant all day long for me.

Couch is passing this play off right before the snap, or at least pointing out he’s going vertical. They had confusion pre-snap and I’m guessing someone didn’t get a call because I can’t understand trying to pass this off when he’s already to this point in his route. My friend and colleague is putting this one on Tyrique, but I’m not sure if it is him or Couch here. Tyrique can’t tackle at the 15. TD.

Your hope is someone like Ladson can emerge from the muck of the Hurricanes’ WR room. This is a beautiful catch, as TVD continues to have issues with accuracy. At least there was an RPO element to that run play at MTSU continues screaming towards the backfield on every run action.

Guess who tackles Parrish. The guy Mallory is trying to block. At some point, it really isn’t Mallory’s fault, it is the coaching staff’s. I can pull up these reviews I did from three years ago talking about how inept Mallory is as a blocker. You can utilize him in other ways to pull a defender out of there besides in-line blocking DE’s and expecting him to be able to do it.

Not sure what TVD is looking at here. Yes, this is your first read, but you have a blitzer that your RB is trying to block. As a QB, you have a set of details in your mind; what’s the leverage of the defense on my first read, where’s my hot if pressure is coming, what’s my plan after my first read etc. He doesn’t do that here, as they have Redding double-covered and he should’ve come off of that immediately and seen he had a wide-open dig route in the MOF. Redding is running a deep comeback, which they have a man over-the-top and a defender coming over underneath it. Get off it now, and get to your 2nd and 3rd.

He has to throw it away and he truly stared at it the entire time. This is poor QB play, and I don’t mean it maliciously. It just is.

I truly dislike the design of this play because of the way MTSU was playing the read. You have an unblocked edge and the only way this play works is if he closes his eyes and runs straight at the QB. He’s reading the mesh and if they give it to the RB he flattens, but if he doesn’t he has his eyes on the QB the entire time and is simply watching him hand it off and runs straight at Keyshawn. To me, I’m not a fan of plays that can only work if the opponent makes a mistake. He makes him miss and gets a yard as #23, who already sees this play, comes screaming in to make a tackle.

Miami started doing this more often, where they went to max protect and had a 3-man route. Here, TVD throws his best pass of the game with good mechanics and on-time with accuracy. First down, as Brashard uses his speed to open up the S in the cover-3 and then run the deep out.

#9 is an all-conference player, favorite for DPOY in his conference and gave us trouble all day. Our big red zone play design was to line up Redding in an offset H-back position and ask him to down-block a DE who could play at Miami. He is beaten before the ball is given and I want to fire that play call into the sun. Why is Mammarelli not being used on these plays?

Campbell has his guy on the ground and the defender clearly has outside leverage. Knighton wants to bounce this outside, and he gets tackled for a loss. Knighton takes a poor angle to his block, as he’s going where the guy is and not where he’s going and gets beaten. Didn’t have much time as the defense is simply jumping everything because they don’t respect anything vertical.

TVD has a chance at the corner if he throws it to the flag for Brinson to jump and make a play. Takes the safe play. My problem is this route combination again allows a CB to defend both players at the same time. TVD’s key on this play is that defender circled. If he sinks into the end zone you throw the out, if he stays underneath, you throw the corner.

Flagg played a solid game against TAM, but that did not carry over to this one. Stops his feet, gets too far upfield, allows the WR to go right around him and take this to the 5-yard line. The defense is setup entirely to rally up and make this tackle. Woof.

The last big play was on the players. You have to make the tackle when you have a WR completely surrounded. This one was on the coaches. How do you not defend the MOF at all in a situation that screams QB draw for a 5-11, 180 pound QB? Just follows his two pullers into the end zone. The second puller through, #64, didn’t touch a soul because he legitimately didn’t have anyone to block out there. He just ran into the end zone looking around. Corey Flagg was called out by the announcer, and he does need to read that quicker, but the scheme definitely had him faking a blitz or at least standing at the LOS. I can’t imagine he just decided he was going to do that without it being practiced that way.

You can see Flagg trying to retrace. You can also see 64 leading the way with no one to block. If Flagg was in the MOF he probably gets blocked by 64 anyway.

Big run by Parrish, coaches asked Mallory to block a DE 1-on-1, somehow they keep asking him to do it, he gets called for a legitimate hold. He didn’t even need to do it because Parrish was going to outrun him to the edge and pickup a 1st down. Not shown.

MTSU blitzed the unbalanced formation every single time. They simply did not fear, respect, or care about the Miami passing threat. Three deep, eight in the box, blitz the edges. Defenses do not respect Miami. It is all over the tape.

#70 is supposed to help 53 and then come off of it, I know that, but have some awareness and get the LB. MTSU is truly just jumping every run action because they do not respect Miami. They simply do not fear them at all. This LB is screaming downhill right now and TVD hasn’t even given the ball. This is clearly on our OC for not adjusting to teams doing this, because this is game four and I’m writing the same things.

How do you help your OL create some room? One can be just being better than the opponent, but you also can spread the defense out and make them get out of the box. Instead, on a 4th-and-1 we bring everyone into the hashes and try to run right into it. Arroyo got whipped on his block. Hopefully, Mammarelli is injured because this coaching malpractice otherwise. This is a 10-man box they’re running into, and probably honestly 11. I’d like to get off of this ride now.

Never. Overthrow. A. Deep. Ball.

This is a G5 DT putting Clark on embarrassing skates. He hasn’t been the same since the ankle injury. TVD is a one-read QB right now. Stares this down the entire way.

Coaching malpractice. The defense does the exact same thing on 3rd-and-1. Blitz the CB, Mallory doesn’t see it, TVD has just gotten the football and the LB’s are screaming downhill. Two-deep shell and they simply don’t respect Miami in the passing game as they’re pressing the outside WR’s and daring them to do something about it. TFL.

This is what Mallory did instead of blocking the blitzing CB. What are we doing as a coaching staff, because this is ceasing to be his fault and is squarely on the coaching staff for putting him in this position repeatedly.

Parrish being good enough to make this cut is the only reason they didn’t get stopped as the coaches asked Mallory to block a DE again and he got pushed back two yards into the backfield. Parrish makes almost a complete sideways cut here.

Miami gets the TD after a grinding drive. Gets the ball after halftime. TVD throws an awful ball on 2nd down. Then on 3rd down, Redding drops a pass that would’ve been a nice gain. Not shown.

TVD got two drives in the second half where he just looked inept. It was definitely the right call to bench him. Not shown.

Excellent route concepts on this play by MTSU as they see Miami in a two-deep shell. The post behind the LB is meant to catch the eyes of Kinchens and hold him in the MOF to have to drive on that post pass. Kinchens really is the culprit here, as he’s caught guessing instead of working deep-to-front. This keeps Jaden Harris without help deep and the WR runs right by him. It was pretty concerning that MTSU was a faster team than Miami. TD.

By the numbers:

This game was one of the worst performances I have seen from a Miami team doing one of these film reviews for years now. Miami was the slower, weaker, less engaged team from the start. The performance was subpar from the coaching staff, the analysts who pre advanced game planning, the players, and even the fans. It was just as bad from a numbers standpoint.

Here is how the players fared by Expected Points Added:

  • Frank Ladson: 1.24 Points Added per Play Overall
  • Elijah Arroyo: .976
  • Keyshawn Smith: .899 overall
  • Brashard Smith: .792
  • Jaleel Skinner: .579
  • Michael Redding: .359
  • Henry Parrish: .329
  • Jake Garcia: .245
  • Thad Franklin: .038
  • Tyler Van Dyke: -.153 (negative)
  • Will Mallory: -.364
  • Romello Brinson: -.474
  • Jaylan Knighton: -.942 (he had a truly awful game)

As a team, Miami had these numbers from an Expected Points Added perspective:

  • Overall Offense: -.011 Points Per Play
  • Overall Passing: .010 Points Per Pass (A very low number for passing)
  • Overall Rushing: -.046 Points Per Rush (Woof)
  • Overall Defense: .355 Points Per Play (Astoundingly bad)
  • Pass Defense: .763 Points Per Pass (They added ¾ point every time they threw)
  • Rush Defense: .030 Points Per Rush

My Impressions:

  • TVD is currently a one-read QB. Last year, the offense asked him to make a pre-snap read based on look. “If this, I go there. If not, I go to my post-snap read.” Add to it, he had a ton of RPO’s which only asked him to read one player (conflict defender) and then choose based on whatever he does. This offense is asking him to make multiple reads, account for free defenders, and process quickly. It isn’t working for him and doesn’t appear to suit him. I was told that Gattis’ offense would adjust to the players and not the other way around. We haven’t seen it yet, but it’s still early.
  • Miami is trying to ask Mallory to block on the edges far too often. Go to Mammarelli in those spots more often or change the calls.
  • Teams simply do not respect Miami’s passing attack and have no fear that Miami will hit the intermediate area of the field. That is on the coaching staff to adjust to.
  • Defensively, Miami has to get the back-end stuff figured out quickly. They cannot continue to be a defense that gives up explosive plays when their own offense simply cannot create them.
  • Explosive plays are how you win in college football today. Miami continues to be unable to make them. Some of that is on the QB, who continues to overthrow deep passes routinely, but some of that is on the scheme and concepts as well. The players deserve a share of the criticism here as well.


Miami decided to come out in a man-heavy scheme against an Air-Raid team and heavily paid the price for it. When Miami hired a cadre of analysts, I expected the advanced game planning to improve dramatically and avoid this sort of tactical mistakes by our coaching staff, but alas, here we are again. MTSU repeatedly used space to get a WR matched up on the CB they wanted to attack and beat them deep for huge TD’s. To see Miami give up the chunk plays repeatedly to a G5 team was astounding. When Miami had MTSU backed up on the one-yard line and allowed Ivey to be in man-coverage with no safety help after MTSU had already shown they could burn them deep multiple times, they were asking for trouble and it showed up in the form of a 99-yard TD.

On offense, this is now four games where I have shown unequivocally that defenses do not respect Miami in the passing game. It is without question all over the film that defenses are playing a soft shell deep and attacking any and all run fakes with their CB’s and edge players without fear. Miami to this point has not adjusted at all to the intermediate area of the field being wide-open and readily available to exploit. That is on the coaching staff, point blank.

Explosive plays continue to elude Miami as either the OL cannot hold up long enough, the QB is overthrowing every deep ball, or the coaching staff is asking a TE who can’t block to block DE’s 1-on-1 multiple times a game, the problem is real.

In my opinion, there are “easy buttons” an offense can employ to make things easier to move the ball. Miami is rarely doing the things that make offense easier, instead choosing to rely on the players to simply beat the man across from them. These easy buttons include:

  • Play-Action passes
  • RPO’s that give the QB a simple one-player read
  • Motion to identify coverage, move the defense, and get offense-friendly matchups
  • Passes behind the LOS allowing blockers to block downfield early (college rules)
  • Bunch/Stack formations that stress the defense
  • Pick plays/Man beaters that cause college defenders to communicate and pass off receivers correctly

To top it off, Miami has a QB controversy. The moment that TVD was removed and replaced by Jake Garcia, this season started to spiral. I honestly believe it was the right decision to make the switch and bring in Jake Garcia, but now that it has happened, everything changes. It will be fascinating to see how the coaching staff manages this from here.

At this point, things have gone about as poorly as possible for this new coaching staff. Every fear that doubters of the staff had are showing up on film. Investors in the staff are not seeing the ROI they had hoped for to this point and I do not see how the bet pays off this year with the loss to MTSU being a serious blow to any attendance hopes outside of the Florida State game from here on out.

Count me in the supporters group. I’m remaining hopeful for the future.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright. The band is out on the field, and somewhere hearts are light. Somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout, but there is no joy in Canesville—today, mighty Mario has struck out.

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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