LEGENDARY. The film review is now done and I have had a full weekend to digest the Miami Hurricanes winning over the Virginia Tech Hokies 20-14. Here are some of my thoughts/stats/commentary in this week’s Roman is Burning Virginia Tech edition.
The Miami Hurricanes have the 14th best passing offense in the country in terms of yardage. That isn’t a typo. The Tyler Van Dyke led aerial assault is averaging 320 yards per game. The Hurricanes currently sit only 6.7 yards underneath the ACC leading UNC Tar Heels who average 326.7 a game. That is mind boggling to me for several reasons.
Where did the running game go? It seemed like only yesterday the Miami Hurricanes went up to College Station and ran the ball at will. In the first three weeks the Hurricanes netted 305, 177 and 175 on the ground. Then the ground game went stone cold. 60 and 42 in the back to back losses to MTSU and UNC and finally a decent 107 versus the Hokies.
I have seen plenty of Canes teams who haven’t been able to consistently run the ball over the years but seemingly forget over the course of a week? No. I was so sure that after Texas A&M we had a run game that would travel. The Mario Cristobal/Alex Mirabal effect was a permanent solution. Or so I thought.
Van Dimes is back as a result of the run game woes. And I have to give major props to the staff on this one. The passing game is much more advantageous to him and they seemingly reinvented themselves through the air over the course of the BYE week. They have done what so many coaching staffs have repeatedly said but seldom do. Players first, scheme second.
They have the easy buttons #Review-U collectively clamored for. The choice routes, the RPO elements, the stuff I have seen TVD excel with last year are back. And back in abundance. There is zero surprise to me that Van Dyke is back to form in consecutive weeks. I said early on that Gattis and Van Dyke were just two talented dance partners who couldn’t find rhythm in the passing game. They seem to be doing just fine now.
But if Baby is the running game they have definitely put Baby in the corner. The running game has idly watched the passing attack take center stage. Jaylan Knighton does not look like the back he was a year ago. Thad Franklin isn’t punishing guys like maybe he should. Parish, Chaney and Citizen being hurt are rearing an ugly truth. Mario doesn’t have what he needs talent wise to run the ball the way he wants.
The offensive line just isn’t the same when Jakai Clark isn’t in. The big guys up front aren’t holding the blocks well enough at times. The miscommunication up front shows. Then go back to running backs missing reads, not making guys miss etc. There are tons of injuries mixing with these two groups I get it. But it isn’t a good group. It is slipping to what it was last year. Currently it is 10th in conference in terms of rushing. Last year it was 12th.
3-3 after the half way mark and I don’t think anyone anticipated this. The fan base has seemingly soured a little bit. If I had to take a stab at it, the feverish pitch of the offseason and banner flag was that this staff would correct everything and quickly. It was the best staff money could buy. It had too right?
I know this roster needs to upgrade in spots. I watch an Alabama game and I see what true NFL talent looks like. The speed and wiggle on some of their players is on another level. We are not on that level. I am confident Mario will get the talent right on this team. But there has to be a little more than that.
The clock management vs Virginia Tech was eye opening and almost expected at the same time. Coach Cristobal has a long standing reputation of having perplexing game day decisions. I watched Clemson in a grind them out situation vs. FSU take the play clock down to one second religiously. That is a team who has won a national championship this decade. You might want to take note of that.
The red zone shouldn’t have taken that long to correct. Josh Gattis has missed me on two coach speak moments. One was when he said Texas A&M had eight in coverage in the the red zone. No. Not true. And that the red zone woes were on him and he needs to do a better job starting now after UNC.
Miami has a score % of 84.3 (58th Nationally) and a TD% of 59.3 (82nd Nationally) inside the red zone. Ohio State, Tennessee, Clemson, Alabama, Georgia and now coastal favorite UNC are all tops in red zone efficiency. The cream of the ACC crop Clemson is 1st in the nation in score % and 18th in TD%. That area of the field was neglected and it showed.
Next time if you could, please prioritize that most precious area of the field sooner. And thank you.
Kevin Steele has done well over six games if you ask me. Currently they have the 4th best defense in conference giving up only 20.5 a game. That is a whole 8 points less than last year. If it wasn’t for the crazy “being second to last in the country in big pass plays over 50 yards” category, they would be the talk of the town. Ahkeem Mesidor certainly was this week when he won the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week Award.
You cannot take stock in the fact Miami are 8.5 favorites over Duke. The way this team has played has been as perplexing as the running game. Or you could use the example of the first half vs. Virginia Tech you pick. The inaugural debut of Mario Cristobal as head coach proves time and time again it will invent new ways weekly to hamper itself.
Opponent big pass plays, absent running game, clock management, red zone dysfunction, or how about 17 penalties? It has been a roulette of madness at times and we are only half way through the season. I have patience in this staff. I really do. But can you guys make it a little less painful to watch?