Pitt embarrassed the Miami Hurricanes on senior night 42-16. The Panthers ran wild against the defense and offensively the Hurricanes struggled to stay on the field. The O was 3-12 on third down and 0-2 on fourth. This Student of the Game Miami Hurricanes vs. Pitt edition is the last one for 2022. Let’s make it count.
The Hurricanes protection issues reared its ugly head again. Tyler Van Dyke is hurt on a play where edge pressure is allowed to come in unabated to the quarterback. The ideology of having running backs carry out their play fake in lieu of blocking a would-be disrupter needs to be questioned.
All three quarterbacks took shots this week where the catalyst was a defender coming in off the edge untouched. There are times when a quarterback is sacked because of a physical breakdown along the offensive line. This was not that. This was conceptual.
Something that could help the Hurricane offense moving forward is the ability to check out of a bad look. And not simply by relying on a “check with me” system in which the players look to the side lines. It doesn’t have to be a robust system and typically you wouldn’t need it on RPO’s. (They have built in options based off defensive looks.)
Here you will see the Pitt quarterback check to a run at the line of scrimmage with great results. A simple numbers game was the catalyst for redirecting this play back to the field side. The Hurricane defense doesn’t anticipate the call quick enough and the Pitt Panthers have a successful run.
This season has finally come to a close. After being the Student of the Game connoisseur that I am and following along for several years now, this was the least enjoyable offense I have ever reviewed. The regression from last year to this year was monumental. The inability to routinely protect the quarterback and combat blitz looks was a reoccurring and devastating theme.
Through all the statistical ineptitude that mounted up, you also sensed a lack of feel that is associated with great play callers. I often got the impression it was simply just calls on a play sheet. They didn’t have a rhyme or a reason.
When Middle Tennessee State showed a formula to aggressively take the running game away, the Hurricanes never regained their momentum. The Hurricanes were held to in game rushing totals of 60, 42, 48 and 30 vs. Clemson. Miami’s yards per rush average was 3.74 slightly up from 3.69 a year ago. Miami was supposed to have a more formidable rushing attack. It didn’t happen.
One of the biggest disappearing acts was along the lines of the big play. In terms of 20+ 30+ 40+ long scrimmage plays in 2021, the Hurricanes had 69, 35, & 20 respectively. Miami in 2022 had 42, 17 and 7. In terms of all plays beyond 20 yards, in 2021 the Hurricanes had 146. This year they had 72.
Miami had a criminally low 19.4 points a game vs. FBS competition. That ranked the Hurricanes 112th nationally and 1 of only 25 teams who scored leas than 20 a game out of 131 schools in that category.
Everywhere you turn you simply cannot find a reason to retain Josh Gattis. He could in fact regain his footing again but it was an unmitigated disaster this year for the former Broyles Award winner. My recommendation is that the Hurricanes look for a fresh voice and vision on that side of the ball. Any close to a repeat performance offensively would set back a rebuild years.
On the defensive side of the ball, giving up five 40 point plus performances was not a good look. The inability to defend the long pass play for certain stretches at a time was also perplexing. Miami finished the regular season 8th in rushing defense, 10th in passing defense, 10th in scoring defense, and 9th in total defense. (ACC rankings)
Miami finished 3rd in the ACC in sacks with 37, tied for 3rd in tackles for loss with 82, 3rd in interceptions with 14 but was second to last in conference with holding opponents to 41.9% on third down. There is much to improve.
I walked away from this season long film review series realizing once again the linebacker and cornerback play is not where it needs to be. The Hurricanes need a huge infusion of talent on that side of the ball in order to have better conference standings.
Overall 5-7 was a disappointing season that none of us saw coming. Amounting the best staff money could buy “on paper” never materialized results on the field. I learned a lot this season and I appreciated the opportunity to once again become a Student of the Game.