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After the Storm: Louisville

After the Storm: Louisville

Stefan Adams
The Miami Hurricanes won their third straight game this weekend, ruling the roost during Senior Day at Hard Rock Stadium for a dominating 52-27 victory over the Louisville Cardinals. Here were my grades and takeaways from the game.

**Where did that come from? The Miami offense built on their mini-breakout against FSU last weekend and looked like a totally different unit against Louisville. UM scored 52 points and had 433 total yards through 3 quarters and, if Dan Enos and the gang didn’t take their foot off the gas in the 4th quarter, it could’ve easily been more. It was an offense that is experiencing improved offensive line play, improved WR separation, and is slowly gaining confidence that they can win 1-on-1 battles throughout the game. UM went through a period of self-discovery in the first half of the season, but Enos is starting to hone in on the concepts that the offense does well (more RPO, more spread looks, more shotgun) and is running them until the defense proves they can stop it. No, Louisville wasn’t a top defense coming in (85th in rush D, 106th in pass D), but Miami has made similarly ranking defenses look like world-beaters in the past. It was complete domination from the beginning with UM scoring TD’s on 5 of their first 6 drives: exactly how it should be against mid-level ACC competition. It was nice to feel like a game was in hand by halftime for once.

**It was a record-setting day for the entire offense. Miami’s 35 first-half points were tied for the second-most against an ACC opponent in a single half and the most ever in the first half versus an ACC opponent. Jarren Williams set the program record and tied the ACC record with six touchdown passes. The Hurricanes’ previous single-game touchdown pass record was five, tied among six passers (Kosar, Walsh, Dorsey, Berlin, Wright, and Morris) and last done by Stephen Morris in 2012. Only seven other times in ACC history had a quarterback thrown for six touchdown passes in a single game. Miami WR Dee Wiggins and WR Mike Harley each had two touchdown receptions Saturday, marking the first time Miami had two players with two touchdown receptions since 11/5/2016 vs. Duke (Stacy Coley and David Njoku). Over the last 20 years, the only two other occasions where Miami had two players that each had two TD receptions in a game were 9/29/2012 (Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott, NC State) and 11/17/2001 (Andre Johnson and Jeremy Shockey, Syracuse). Harley (116 receiving yards) and Wiggins (85) both set career-highs in yardage on the day as well.

**Jarren Williams did whatever he wanted this week. Williams finished 15-22 (68%) for 253 yards passing, the 6 TD’s, no turnovers, and 23 yards rushing. More impressive than the “wow” factor of 6 TD passes was Williams’ ability to accrue them in a variety of ways that showed his maturity: Read the DE jumping the screen, pumped, reset, and gave DeeJay Dallas room to make the play. Hung in the pocket, got nailed, and delivered a strike to Dee Wiggins on the 67-yard bomb. Threw off platform with the rush coming for him on Wiggins’ second TD. Great RPO read to Harley across the middle that was there all day. Scrambled out to the right, drew the defense up, and lofted an easy TD to Will Mallory. On 3rd and 15, he threw his best ball of the day, just over the top of the safety with a corner also in coverage, but before the back of the endzone, with perfect rhythm and timing to Harley. Williams also scrambled for first downs multiple times on third and long. He’s showing that with even a smidge of protection, he’s much harder to defend because he can beat you in so many ways. More of this please.

**The Canes had their best performance of the season against FBS competition running the ball. Earlier in the week, I spoke about getting the running backs more involved in the offense against Louisville, who came in at 85th in the country defending the run and were a defense that had given up four 200+ yard games on the ground to each of the 4 best offenses they faced in 2019. The potential mismatch was there, and clearly Dan Enos saw it as well: vs. UL, the Canes had a season-high against FBS opponents, rushing for 197 yards. It wasn’t just that either, as Miami was both efficient at 6.2 yards per carry, and also mixed the run and pass better than they have in past games (30 dropbacks vs. 23 traditional runs). Considering Miami came into the game 120th nationally (111.3 ypg) in the run game and had been held under 100 yards rushing in 7 of 9 FBS contests, it was an encouraging sign for one half of the UM offense. Of course, you would like to see this success carry over to stronger defensive competition in the future.

**The total numbers may not look it, but I’d argue Miami played above average against the run in this game. UM held Louisville under their season average on the ground coming into the game (218.1 ypg) and Louisville got 101 of their 168 yards rushing on just two plays. Of course, you can’t completely dismiss those plays: they happened. But (I will now anyways) one of them came when Patrick Joyner, playing in his first game of the season off injury, got washed out of the gap to give up a 58-yard TD mid-way through the 4th quarter when the game was already in hand.

Looking just at Shaq Quarterman and Mike Pinckney, the duo shut down a ton of Louisville runs at or behind the line of scrimmage and were diagnosing and reacting at probably the highest level we’ve seen from them. 7.5 TFL between the two of them in this game bears this out, and it they have 10.5 TFL combined in the past two weeks total. They also helped to corral the QB run that has been so effective for UL this season; UM allowed the Cardinals’ two QB’s to account for just 2 yards on 13 carries. Manny Diaz praised the pair of LB’s for upping their game in recent weeks, and they continued their strong play this weekend. That was amazing to see on Senior Day, as the two have done a lot for this program both on and off the field.

**Still, Miami gave up way too many big plays. With UL’s quick-strike nature and the type of speed Louisville brings to their offense, you’d expect to give up a few big plays, sure. However, by my count, Louisville had 8 explosive plays (20+ yards) and often times Miami was caught blowing assignments. With such a big performance from the offense, it ended up not making much of a difference, but you can trust that these missteps would have been highlighted much more if the game was closer. You want to be focused on improving something every week, so putting a lid on some of these explosive plays will be an aspect of this game that the defense can take away and work on, and I’m sure it’s something Manny Diaz will harp on throughout the bye week.

**Miami has a chance to win out and take momentum into the offseason similar to 2016. With the win over UL, the Canes’ third straight, Miami has now officially locked up a bowl game, something that was absolutely necessary for Manny Diaz considering how poorly the season started. Wins like FSU on the road and blowing out an above average Louisville team at home can be building blocks for a first-year coach, and Miami can really start to gain a head of steam at this point. Without a Coastal title, the season will ultimately be a disappointment; however, with just FIU and Duke left on the schedule, Miami now has the opportunity to win out in the regular season, win a decent bowl game, and take some positivity from a 6 game win-streak into the offseason. The parallels are strikingly similar to what Mark Richt did to close-out his first year in ’16, and we know how that ended up carrying over to the '17 season.


Offense: A+

It was the best game they’ve played all year, bar none, and it was a record-breaking day for some players individually. 449 total yards, 8.2 yards per play, 52 points, and that’s after essentially going into a shell for the entire 4th quarter. Only 1 sack allowed. Went 5 of 5 in the red zone as well and it was even a great performance on third downs (5-10). Can’t ask for much more here.

Defense: D

With 27 points allowed, Miami actually held one of the ACC’s top offenses under their season scoring average of 32 ppg coming in, but ultimately, this game did not reflect the standard that Miami has built up on defense here over the past few years. 496 total yards and 7.8 yards per play were big minuses. The Canes were burnt for huge plays throughout the game, giving up 8 plays of 20 yards or more. Positives included 3 turnovers and 14 TFL. Giving up 5-14 (36%) on third downs was right at Miami’s season average (38%) coming in, as were their 3 sacks (3.78).

Special Teams: A

Not much you can complain about this week: Camden Price hit on all 7 of his XP’s and nailed his 24-yard FG. Louis Hedley punted 4 times for an average of 46.2 ypp to improve on his season average, with two pinned inside the 20. KJ Osborn continues to be a weapon in the punt return game, taking a punt back 38-yards to set up UM inside the UL 20 for the Canes’ second TD. Miami's special teams helped UM gain an average field position of their own 37 on 14 drives, while UL started on their own 24, a hidden yardage advantage of 182 yards. Al Blades blocked a punt as well. It was the type of well-rounded ST performance you dream of.

Coaching: B+

You’re seeing improvement at nearly every position as the season rolls along, a very good sign for this staff. Only 5 penalties vs. UL: Miami was dead last in the country in penalties per game with double-digits hiccups the first half of the season, but has slowly dug themselves out of that hole in recent weeks to climb to #102 (7.2 penalties per game). Miami came out guns-ablazing from the kickoff and were more than prepared to play this game. The play of the defense prevents me from giving an A here, but maybe one day the Canes will put together a truly dominating performance on both sides of the ball.

Comments (26)

Damn good write up, I'm with you. Gave up too many big plays. We know Manny will get this tightened up. I think as the game went on because of depth on the defense and playing special teams also it was too many snaps to get high quality for four quarters. JMO
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Let’s not forget that Louisville does have a good offense. They’ve been putting up yards on most teams this year. Someone put a stat on how we were doing thru 3 quarters and we were doing really well against them; but yeah, we let up in the fourth quarter.

Big gripe for me was Patchan’s stupid late hit penalty in the 4th...that was awful!!!!

Great write up man!!

Let’s Go Canes!!!
Let’s not forget that Louisville does have a good offense. They’ve been putting up yards on most teams this year. Someone put a stat on how we were doing thru 3 quarters and we were doing really well against them; but yeah, we let up in the fourth quarter.

Big gripe for me was Patchan’s stupid late hit penalty in the 4th...that was awful!!!!

Great write up man!!

Let’s Go Canes!!!
Yeah I saw That post of what you were talking about. I think We gave up 168 yards in the 4th quarter alone
D is a little harsh on the defense, Saterfield is a nice offensive coach and they have some dangerous speedsters. We held them in check for the most part...I wasn’t too upset with the D’s Performance except that one drive where they went 80 yards in three chunk runs..
Eh it felt like 2016/2017 all over again with them giving up huge plays on 3rd/4th and long
Nice write-up. It does feel like 2016, doesn’t it? Closing out on a 6 game win streak would be huge.
I think a D for the defense might be a little harsh. D is failing and they definitely passed. Maybe a C- instead.
I was at the game sitting at the 50 yard line :) . The defense played well outside of giving up some big plays and a let down in the 4th quarter. The big plays were mental mistakes. I was more disappointed with the defense kind of shutting it down when the game was clearly decided. I wanted them to have that killer instinct for the full 60 minutes. This is what all teams fight thru having a big lead. I give the defense a B.
Let’s not forget that Louisville does have a good offense. They’ve been putting up yards on most teams this year. Someone put a stat on how we were doing thru 3 quarters and we were doing really well against them; but yeah, we let up in the fourth quarter.

Big gripe for me was Patchan’s stupid late hit penalty in the 4th...that was awful!!!!

Great write up man!!

Let’s Go Canes!!!
Patchan's stupid move confounded me.......with his experience it was a "what were you thinking kind of moment"...
I agree with the posters that said the D saw that the O was hitting the 5th gear all game long and I really believe they slept walked through this game. Not saying that's an excuse either. That is another fault that Diaz has to work on. Getting these guys to stay focused no matter what.

But this happens to all teams. LSUs D let Vanderbilt hang almost 40 points on them in a 66-38 win. (UF shut Vandy out last weekend..56-0) So it happens to the best of them. Its a learning experience. Lets move forward. Defense will tighten up these next 2 weeks.

(The killing of Butch Davis's ghost still walking around the Hecht and the killing of Cutcliffe and that Duke team that we need to get revenge on will be plenty motivation for this D)
So the big question is: Can we play Louisville every game?