Miami vs. Virginia Review-U


It was the Miami Hurricanes vs. Virginia this week in a matchup of two teams trying to find their footing under a new coaching staff. Last year, Virginia went to Miami and won the game when freshman kicker Andres Borregales hit the upright on a potential game-winning FG. While it was not a game that will find its way to ESPN Classic any time soon, it was a victory for the Hurricanes and I will take all the victories I can get at this point. We will walk through the film review together and see what went right and what still needs to improve.

Film Review:

Miami runs a play-action pass to influence the LB’s and get a completion over the MOF. This isn’t an RPO as it is a pass all the way based on the blockers all pass blocking, rather than working to the second level like they would on an RPO and the fact they are blocking the edge with a cross-block in John Campbell.

Not my favorite play design on this 3rd-and-long as they are trying to run a little swing pass to Parrish, which is really just a screen as the receivers are immediately blocking. The LB is in man on the RB in coverage so as soon as he sees the RB release he just jumps it. Here is an example of players needing to know what is a possible adjustment that could cause this play not to work? Mallory is designed to get to that S behind the LB here, but needs to know if the LB jumps it, I need to take the WLB in coverage first, then rely on Parrish to make that S miss. He tries to adjust, but it’s far too late and the LB is on Parrish, who drops the ball anyway. Miami has this setup fairly decently if Mallory blocks the LB and would’ve at least given them a chance. Parrish has to catch the ball as well.

Taylor was a wrecking crew in this game as he shoots the gap before the RT can drop down to him as the RG tries to release to second level. Your 3T has to punish a team for trying to release their G onto second level without blocking you and Taylor does just that. Mesidor continues to show how you reset a LOS with power on the edge and still be able to disengage and impact the QB if he holds onto it. Big TFL.

3rd-and-13 and we actually spied Armstrong with Flagg. It again goes back to situational awareness with the defense. Flagg is sort of in no-man’s land and takes himself out of the play by not staying back and actually spying. He walks up right into a blocker who knocks him out of play. Also, your SDE is again far too upfield here and Harvey is pushed behind the QB. It gives a lane for Armstrong to escape. He needs to stay on the inside of #65 here and force Armstrong to go around the edge and have to go a long way to get the 1st or to throw while running to his right as a LH passer. The coaches had them in a position to stop this and the players let them down.

LB play continues to be a problem for the defense. Both LB’s are staring at the run fake and are actually past the LOS and standing right next to each other and not helping against the pass at all. If they get some depth on this 3rd down there is no window to throw to. Luckily it was dropped.

This is just poor OL play. You’ve got the numbers to block them, you’ve got positioning, but you don’t pass it off as you should on the loop and the looper comes around the edge for the sack. Miami’s OL has struggled to communicate on stunts for years. 51 needs to pass the inside rusher to 73 and 51 needs to take the looper. They don’t and the inside rusher knocks Cooper off the looper.

Flagg doesn’t fill his gap even though the defense has it plugged. My guess is his height impacted him here and he couldn’t see that the ball was handed off. Defense is there if the Mike does his job but luckily the RB tripped over his OL legs. Flagg gets credit for a tackle as he comes over and touches him after he’s down.

Virginia truly fell for this play fake on a 3rd-and-1 even though Brown runs it every single time in this situation. He’s dangerous with the ball in his hands and he needs to get more run if TVD stays out. It keeps things on schedule more than the standard offense seems to.

Miami was moving the ball with smart, short passes and Brown’s legs out of Wildcat. Then they tried a trick play with Brinson on an end-around WR pass and lose a bunch of yards. That essentially kills the drive for Miami and sums up the criticism I have for Gattis about not having a feel for calling plays. The play itself is fine to have on a call sheet, but when to call that play and with what game personnel you have is the key to being successful. Then Miami runs it on 4th-and-13 and then punts the ball into the end zone when Ivey doesn’t down it. The mistakes always add up against Miami. (Not shown)

Miami spies Armstrong with Harvey this time and he does a much better job of it than Flagg did. Caleb Johnson is your Mike on this play and just shoves the RB down after the QB takes off. Johnson has taken some time to adjust in this defense but he’s much more athletic and physical than the other options at Mike. Against a team that utilizes the QB run game he might be a better fit. DE over LT still getting far too upfield, cannot do that against a running QB.

Next drive they spy Armstrong with Nyjalik Kelly and he makes the play. Faring much better with spying when they use a DL rather than Flagg. Not shown.

Jake struggles to this throw this little swing pass. He throws it with the nose down into the turf and with pace. It’s one of the reason we drop it so often. That said, can Miami dial up an explosive play out of this just once? Look how they are jumping this little swing pass immediately. If one (or both) of these receivers would fake a block and then run a double move there would be an opportunity for an explosive play.

My goodness, Leonard Taylor, this man has a family! He took this guys chest so badly he put him through the TE trying to leak out. Jahfari Harvey took the LT’s chest at the top of the screen. Double sacks. Physical!

My biggest complaint with the defense continues to be how Steele allows this to happen repeatedly. This is a 3rd-and-14. You have to tell your pass rushers they are not allowed to get upfield behind the QB. Then, you cannot run a defense that vacates the middle of the field like this. Armstrong just runs right through this for a 1st. Not sure you can play Nyjalik Kelly against FSU because he does this every rush. All he wants to do is an outside speed rush that lets the QB step up.

Pin-and-pull run to perfection here. Parrish hits the hole hard and is an ankle tackle from housing this ball. Brantley has the pull and kicks out the edge. Young man doing what I call winning plays as this is the second time he’s been physical as the puller on an edge. First play of the game he crushed his edge to start things off and then has the kickout on this big run.

The play doesn’t work on a still, so I’ll just describe it. Restrepo sits into a zone where Keyshawn was sitting in a zone outside the hash. The CB jumps in-between the two receivers to try and cover both. Restrepo has the sense to come back to the ball rather than sit and wait on it. Makes the catch, gets upfield and still gets the 1st down. If he sits back it would’ve been close as to whether the CB gets his hands on the ball. (Not shown)

When teams see Miami go into the Pistol look at this point they are immediately jumping the mesh point. Miami tries to slide their protection left and sneak Young across the formation and hit him backside. The edge just screams straight to the QB on both sides and the backside CB is in zone and watches the play the entire way. It goes for a loss and it could’ve been worse. If ever there was a week to self-scout and come up with some variations on these plays, it is FSU week.

Those vertical routes where Garcia can see it the whole way are the routes that Garcia excels in. Over the CB, in front of the S, Young makes a great catch again.

This is a mess. Tried to pin-and-pull again, but the edge ducks inside of Campbell, Mallory does try and adjust and block the free rusher, but ducks his head and blocks Campbell instead. Big TFL on a 2nd-and-1. Miami just cannot afford all the mistakes in execution that they make when the scheme makes it tough for them to score to begin with. Cooper also messes up as he goes to crash down on the NT and doesn’t see the LB is threatening him head up with a rush and doesn’t react in time.

Where is Garcia supposed to go with this ball? Miami again with another tendency showing up on 3rd down. Gattis loves to run flood concepts on 3rd down and Virginia muddied it up with eyes on the QB. I would love to see #5 running a Whip route here just to break tendency and stress that LB in zone coverage, who undoubtedly has the flats in this coverage. Campbell has really struggled to protect the inside shoulder in this game and got victimized there repeatedly. As a T, once you are trying to punch with one hand to the middle of the chest or closer you are already done. That defender will get past half-man and beat you.

Darrell Jackson and Leonard Taylor for as many snaps as they can handle is the move inside. Mesidor/Aguade/JHH on the outside situationally. That’s your best DL right now, who will play with physicality, stay in contain, and push the pocket. Here Jackson takes the LG’s lunch money and engulfs the QB.

Couch is trying to make sure the Mike knows he needs to carry the seam on this route by hand signaling and presumably yelling, but Flagg is too flat footed here and looking at the QB. He needs to be turning and running at this point. TE just runs the seam and catches a wide-open pass. The goal on these downs is to get deep to the sticks and force an underneath throw or route receivers into your deep coverage. Flagg is just lost here. When you drop a spy out like this it does impact your pass rush.

This is the story of the Miami defense in 2022. It would be nice to see this for the Miami offense more often and less often for the defense. Miami holds them to a FG as this guy falls down on his own.

Blades blitzed and literally screened Ivey, then fell on his face.

This route must’ve been a pre-snap read that Garcia doesn’t come back to because he has a guy wide-open for a huge gain down the LOS and everyone else is covered.

We spied Nyjalik on the edge and stood him up. Without knowing the play call, I’m not sure if he had the flats or if Frierson had the flats. It looks to me like Frierson has the coverage on the play and Kelly has the spy. Frierson blitzes, or probably what he thinks is a “green dog” which essentially means blitz when no one is in your coverage area. I am guessing that Frierson thinks the RB is engaging in a chip block on the edge and not going out into a pass play. Kinchens was out there and got juked badly, then this goes to the two-yard line.

What a huge play by Ivey and Stevenson to chase the RB down at the 2-yard line as the defense makes a stand and on 3rd down Kinchens sees the TE leaking out and the RB looking to throw it back and gets a hand on the ball to knock it down. On 4th down, not sure what Flagg is doing here as he is way outside of his landmark. His landmark on this play is the hash mark and you can see the TE is sitting down right inside of the hash mark and is wide open. Luckily, he drops it. Flagg can even see the eyes of the QB here and is still way outside his area without a receiver there. Agude had to get a new uniform after this one was ripped off by the falling LT.

Agude with a huge play on 3rd-and-2 to thwart another red zone possession. Agude played well in this one.

Gattis loves to run pin-and-pull and it had pretty good effect in this game. Campbell did the pin on most of the runs and Mallory the pull, but Brantley did it a few times to better impact.

#15 loops all the way around RT to get a sack on this play as there just isn’t a route that threatens zone on these intermediate third downs. Garcia has to get rid of the ball quicker, but he needs somewhere to go with it as well.

Miami ran Smash to the boundary. Would prefer to run it to the field side instead of a condensed area but at least Miami tried to put defense in conflict a bit. Ended up hitting the backside crosser as Garcia didn’t want the out to Mallory for just a few yards.

Teams simply do not respect Miami’s deep passing game and jump the run action every time. Mallory tries to lead here and the edge nearly gets a TFL but Parrish breaks it. Campbell had a tough game and was beaten again here.

This run play is something you saw a lot when Gattis was at Michigan. Pull both G and T and then wham your WR on the edge. Clark gets off-balance and the NT beats him inside but Stanley gets a nice run following Campbell’s kick-out block.

Run inside-zone with a wham and get stuffed. It’s a run all the way as you can see the receivers don’t even move. Mallory missed his block on the edge. They brought in Sagapolu to play RG and they put Cooper out at TE with Mallory on the other side of him, so two TE’s outside Scaife.

Run the exact same play on 2nd down and they had a stand-up edge #9 duck inside the block of Cooper, who is lined up on end at TE and it’s another TFL. Cooper will need to get more flexible in the offseason. (Not shown)

Look familiar? We ran the same play all three times they had goal-to-go. They did take out the second TE on the line, but otherwise the same play. Wham 18 across on a kick-out, inside-zone dive. Woof.


This game really was a struggle to watch and review. The rigidity of the offense and lack of answers to defense’s jumping the tendencies is becoming a real concern with the current Offensive Coordinator, Josh Gattis. You can see the formations and have a pretty good idea of what is coming on the play. Especially when Miami goes into either the Pistol formation (run action is being jumped by the defense) or a 3 x 1 gun set (teams are jumping those screens, swings, shallow crossers).

You’re seeing mesh at an alarmingly high rate and defenses in zone are simply watching the QB who has no answers for the LB’s passing the routes off.

Defensively, Miami did a better job than perceived live and really just needs to continue to preach discipline and hitting your landmarks for the LB’s in zone.

  • Corey Flagg has made a lot of improvements this season, but had clearly his worst game of the year in this one.
  • Leonard Taylor was phenomenal and really made some key plays to Miami actually winning.
  • Mitchell Agude was excellent off the edge and also made a few plays that were pivotal.
  • Virginia should’ve won this game easily, as they had two busts that were tracked down at the 2-yard line and they scored a combined three points. They had another pass that would’ve gone for a TD simply dropped by a WR behind the defense. Coverage issues and communication remain a concern.

That all said, Miami found a way to win the game. Some of it was good fortune, but some of it was also a desire to compete that hasn’t always been present this season. This one goes down as a W.

It’s Florida State week and I’ll be in attendance. Turn the page and go get another one over the Noles.

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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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