After the Storm: Oklahoma State

After the Storm: Oklahoma State

Stefan Adams
The Miami Hurricanes fell to the #21 Oklahoma State Cowboys yesterday, ceding the Cheez-It Bowl by a score of 37-34. After a rewatch of the game, here were my takeaways and grades, including some end-of-season thoughts on the direction of the program.


**This was a tough game to evaluate and I had mixed feelings on it for a few reasons. First off, the nature of bowl games today is such that many players who have a shot at being drafted in the NFL skip the game entirely, giving you an incomplete picture of the teams playing, and it was something that was prevalent on both sides in this contest. It was ugly and inexcusable to see how sluggish Miami came out to go down 21-0, giving you that feeling that this was about to be an extension of the UNC game and that the team had completely given up on the season. It should’ve never happened. That’s why it was surprising to see Miami not go into the tank like they had done so many times before and actually punch themselves back into the game, even when it would’ve been especially easy to do so with D’Eriq King’s demoralizing injury and playing most of the game with a QB that had only seen mop-up snaps in this new offense. How the outcome would’ve been affected had King played the whole game is unknowable, and the picture got even murkier considering how the refs became an active participant in the game in key moments. After all that, the Canes still outgained the Cowboys by nearly 100 total yards (512-418). With all that being said, though…


**Miami was not prepared on the defensive side of the ball. Going into the game, Oklahoma State was a team that relied heavily on their running game as the motor that made their offense go. In 2020, the Cowboys ran the ball 60.3% of the time vs. 39.7% of their plays being pass attempts. The Canes obviously knew this as well, as even Manny Diaz mentioned stopping OSU’s run game as a must in his weekly presser, and I’m sure the Cowboys’ #36 rushing attack was even more of a concern to the defensive staff when considering the run D’s apocalyptic performance against UNC in the last game. That’s what made how Oklahoma State started the game even more effective; bucking expectations of yet another run-heavy approach against a UM run defense that was reeling, and anticipating an overcorrection by Blake Baker and staff, Oklahoma State caught the Miami defense completely off guard by beginning the game with 15 straight dropbacks from QB Spencer Sanders.

That soon grew to 19 dropbacks on 24 plays on OSU’s first 3 drives, leading to a 21-0 first quarter advantage for Mike Gundy’s crew before Miami even knew what hit them. Of course, UM’s defense settled into the game after that and allowed 16 points through the remaining 3 quarters, but the damage had already been done. Oklahoma State had to play most of this game without two of the best offensive players in the nation (including an All-American WR), but were able to sub a freshman WR with one career catch right in to produce 100+ yards and 3 TD’s. Yes, despite all that, Miami still had a chance to win at the end of the game, but Baker (and Diaz) got outcoached out of the gate and took way too long to adjust, plain and simple; it ultimately ended up being the difference in the game.


**The WR group needs a ton of work going forward. It was clear and obvious to anyone who watched this game that UM’s receiver group overall is not on par with what should be expected at the University of Miami. The Canes’ receivers had at least 5 drops by my count, and 4 of them would have gone for major gains that would have either scored points or set Miami up for points. It was bad enough for a normal situation, but it was worse considering the receivers had to step up even more with a back-up QB in the game that they needed to give confidence to and help elevate. Above all else, receivers absolutely need to be able to catch the ball with some semblance of consistency; you can’t start to worry about the nuances of the position if you can’t get a handle on the basics. Not to mention what a momentum-killer drops can be, and they most certainly were in this game. Despite a short-lived resurgence in the middle of the season that gave some hope, the WR position aside from Mike Harley was nothing short of a disaster this season, which made it all the more concerning that none of UM’s young receivers really even challenged the veterans for major snaps; that’s not too reassuring going forward. While it’s just year 1 and none these guys are his players, Rob Likens still has a lot to prove at Miami, starting with getting this group back up to an even average level in 2021.


**I loved the way N’Kosi Perry came in and led the team despite so many things working against him. Seeing your team fall behind 21-0. Watching King go down with a potentially devastating injury, then being thrust into the game and having to compose yourself in an offense you’ve only taken a few real snaps in. Delivering ball after ball on target, only to see them go right through receivers fingers. Perry was not put into anything resembling an ideal situation last night, but I thought he made the best of it in delivering a line of 19-34 (55.9%), 228 yards, 2 TD’s, no INT’s, and one fumbled away exchange. He executed many of the Rhett Lashlee offensive staples nicely, including the false step pass over the middle to Will Mallory, something that takes timing and good eye discipline. While he did look a little uncomfortable on some of the designed runs, this was seemingly the first time Perry showed quality accuracy on short and intermediate routes, something he’s been inconsistent with in his time at Miami. Ultimately, Perry could not make one last play to will the Hurricanes to a win in the end, but he did what could’ve been expected of him and more, and this loss isn’t on him whatsoever.


**My thoughts on the 2020 season and the future at UM. We’ll get more in-depth on this in subsequent articles and podcasts, but here is the short(er) version for now. 2020 brought the entire world unique challenges and college football was no exception. Considering Miami was on the verge on not even being able to field a team some weeks, I thought the coaches did a good job keeping the ship afloat despite many unforeseen circumstances. 8-3 was what I predicted in preseason with an 11-game slate, so Miami met my expectations overall. The offense and special teams units took major steps forward this year compared to 2019; Lashlee established himself as a young, creative offensive mind that has the offense going in the right direction, UM finally found an answer to their QB woes, and the kicking game was a major asset instead of a major disaster.

Miami also solved a years long bugaboo in terms of beating all the teams they’re supposed to beat and stayed focused each and every week. It was a key and necessary step for Manny Diaz to make in his second year, but that was the easy part. For UM to make the next jump as a program, they have to start beating the better teams on their schedule; Miami lost to the best three teams they played this year, and two of those contests weren’t even close. Because the defense clearly took a step back this season, that side of the ball will get the most scrutiny this offseason, and deservedly so; many fans feel like Blake Baker and Mike Rumph should be on the chopping block. However, given how involved Manny is with the defense and the DB’s specifically, I see changes at those spots being pretty pointless in the grand scheme if the change is going to be to another younger, “less experienced than Diaz”, system hire that will essentially always have to defer to what Diaz wants.

For Miami to really make a jump in 2021, Manny will either have to give up some control of the defense, hiring a more grizzled veteran type at those spots and/or give a younger hire more freedom, transitioning himself even closer towards a “CEO” role; or keep things status quo, really prioritize recruiting better talent (which, this class was a good start), and evolve further as a defensive mind. Basically, making a change at DC, CB coach, or anywhere else on defense isn’t going to do much more than placate the fanbase temporarily and nothing will fundamentally change if those moves don’t coincide with Diaz giving up some control. Manny has shown some promising signs, but ultimately hasn’t really proven he can be a championship-level coach yet at Miami. The question of this offseason will be if he decides to go out and get some more coaching firepower on defense that will challenge Diaz to expand his way of thinking, or continue to bet on himself and his own system regarding that side of the ball.


Grades

Offense: B+

34 points scored and 512 total yards against an above average defense coming in. Given how Lashlee was calling plays with one hand behind his back in some ways with King out and the wide receivers playing hot potato, that’s a pretty awesome output. Only 1 three and out. 6.56 ypp. Needed a better mark than 4-14 (28.6%) on third downs. 1 giveaway. 4-4 in the red zone (3 TD’s). OL surrendered only 5 TFL and 1 sack against the #11 pass rush in terms of sacks per game coming in. Would have been an “A-” without all the drops.

Defense: C-

37 points and 412 yards allowed. Missing arguably their best two players and made a good recovery during the final three quarters, but no real excuse to get shredded like that in the first quarter and putting the team in a massive hole. Solid havoc stats with 2 sacks and 9 TFL. Still deficient in the TO department, recording none. Allowed 6 for 15 (40%) on third downs. 5.04 ypp allowed. Recorded 5 three and outs.

Special Teams: C+

Jose Borregales was Mr. Automatic yet again, doing everything asked of him (2-2 FG’s, 2-2 XP’s). Lou Hedley had a solid day with a 44.7 ypp average on 3 punts and 1 inside the 20. Mike Harley dropped this grade from the “A-/B+” range with a muffed punt turnover with UM set for good field position, although he made up for it a bit with a nice 38-yard kick return, a season-long for UM.

Coaching: D

Miami continued to be one of the most penalized teams in 2020 with 8 penalties for 76 yards, with many coming in key moments; that’s still hard to swallow even with the ref issues. Did not have the team prepared and motivated to start, leading to another sluggish opening. Was impressed by the creativity and overall output from by Lashlee on offense even with a ton working against him. To say the gameplan on defense was extremely lackluster is putting it mildly, and it took way too long to adjust.
 

Comments (16)

The OL play was underrated and I’m glad you pointed it out as their pass rush coming in was actually decent.

Despite the defensive issues and spotting 21 points, with even semi-decent Wr play we win that game by 10.
 
Manny is the hairball in the pipe to success. Only he, can choose to a part of the solution, or continue to the problem. The analyst will only succeed when he elevates himself to self-analysis.
 
Not prepared on defense says it all. Not only does Miami have a DC its head coach was also a DC. So how bad is it between these two guys the defense is soooo bad!! Simply cannot use covid as an excuse. Everybody had covid issues yes some worse than others. Miami looked ok against Duke. With so much to play for this team laid an egg. Why? Because they were out coached. If it was that bad they should have turned down the bowl game like a lot of other teams did. Had they beat NC there would no no mention of covid.
 
Regarding Perry and making one last play, I looked at our last 4 downs.
All we needed was one more first down to give Jose a shot from 50-55.

1st down- Perry delivered, Pope didn't. No way we don't score a touchdown there if that catch is made.
2nd down- Pass in the flat to Chaney. Play was there. Mallory missed the block on #3. Would have gone for a first down.
3rd down- Perfect call. Brevin in the slot. The backer on that side was coming. Perry thrown the ball behind Brevin. Would have been at least a first down. Maybe another big gain if he breaks the first tackle as he did a few plays prior.
4th down- If the pass to Redding led him down the field away from the pursuit, similar to the Wiggins tunnel-screen drop, this play is a touchdown. DB's 2 and 4 were blocked on the play. I wouldn't have had the balls to call a pass play to a receiver behind the sticks, but it was there.

Perry started out the last series fine, the first two plays were not on him.
We needed him to execute juuuuust a little better in one of those last two plays to get the W.
I'm not going out on a limb here when I say if the game goes into OT, we win.
The mo and JB was on our side.

 
Write up doesn't hit the root of the entire problem with this football team which is Manny Diaz. He is the CANCER on this club and it's so easy to see game in and game out. Just call it like it is. Manny is responsible for recruitment, hiring, firing, running the program, and ultimately trying to win a national championship. HE HAS FAILED MISERABLY IN ALL CATEGORIES AND THEN SOME. TIME TO FIRE HIS ASS!
 
The Miami Hurricanes fell to the #21 Oklahoma State Cowboys yesterday, ceding the Cheez-It Bowl by a score of 37-34. After a rewatch of the game, here were my takeaways and grades, including some end-of-season thoughts on the direction of the program.


**This was a tough game to evaluate and I had mixed feelings on it for a few reasons. First off, the nature of bowl games today is such that many players who have a shot at being drafted in the NFL skip the game entirely, giving you an incomplete picture of the teams playing, and it was something that was prevalent on both sides in this contest. It was ugly and inexcusable to see how sluggish Miami came out to go down 21-0, giving you that feeling that this was about to be an extension of the UNC game and that the team had completely given up on the season. It should’ve never happened. That’s why it was surprising to see Miami not go into the tank like they had done so many times before and actually punch themselves back into the game, even when it would’ve been especially easy to do so with D’Eriq King’s demoralizing injury and playing most of the game with a QB that had only seen mop-up snaps in this new offense. How the outcome would’ve been affected had King played the whole game is unknowable, and the picture got even murkier considering how the refs became an active participant in the game in key moments. After all that, the Canes still outgained the Cowboys by nearly 100 total yards (512-418). With all that being said, though…


**Miami was not prepared on the defensive side of the ball. Going into the game, Oklahoma State was a team that relied heavily on their running game as the motor that made their offense go. In 2020, the Cowboys ran the ball 60.3% of the time vs. 39.7% of their plays being pass attempts. The Canes obviously knew this as well, as even Manny Diaz mentioned stopping OSU’s run game as a must in his weekly presser, and I’m sure the Cowboys’ #36 rushing attack was even more of a concern to the defensive staff when considering the run D’s apocalyptic performance against UNC in the last game. That’s what made how Oklahoma State started the game even more effective; bucking expectations of yet another run-heavy approach against a UM run defense that was reeling, and anticipating an overcorrection by Blake Baker and staff, Oklahoma State caught the Miami defense completely off guard by beginning the game with 15 straight dropbacks from QB Spencer Sanders.

That soon grew to 19 dropbacks on 24 plays on OSU’s first 3 drives, leading to a 21-0 first quarter advantage for Mike Gundy’s crew before Miami even knew what hit them. Of course, UM’s defense settled into the game after that and allowed 16 points through the remaining 3 quarters, but the damage had already been done. Oklahoma State had to play most of this game without two of the best offensive players in the nation (including an All-American WR), but were able to sub a freshman WR with one career catch right in to produce 100+ yards and 3 TD’s. Yes, despite all that, Miami still had a chance to win at the end of the game, but Baker (and Diaz) got outcoached out of the gate and took way too long to adjust, plain and simple; it ultimately ended up being the difference in the game.


**The WR group needs a ton of work going forward. It was clear and obvious to anyone who watched this game that UM’s receiver group overall is not on par with what should be expected at the University of Miami. The Canes’ receivers had at least 5 drops by my count, and 4 of them would have gone for major gains that would have either scored points or set Miami up for points. It was bad enough for a normal situation, but it was worse considering the receivers had to step up even more with a back-up QB in the game that they needed to give confidence to and help elevate. Above all else, receivers absolutely need to be able to catch the ball with some semblance of consistency; you can’t start to worry about the nuances of the position if you can’t get a handle on the basics. Not to mention what a momentum-killer drops can be, and they most certainly were in this game. Despite a short-lived resurgence in the middle of the season that gave some hope, the WR position aside from Mike Harley was nothing short of a disaster this season, which made it all the more concerning that none of UM’s young receivers really even challenged the veterans for major snaps; that’s not too reassuring going forward. While it’s just year 1 and none these guys are his players, Rob Likens still has a lot to prove at Miami, starting with getting this group back up to an even average level in 2021.


**I loved the way N’Kosi Perry came in and led the team despite so many things working against him. Seeing your team fall behind 21-0. Watching King go down with a potentially devastating injury, then being thrust into the game and having to compose yourself in an offense you’ve only taken a few real snaps in. Delivering ball after ball on target, only to see them go right through receivers fingers. Perry was not put into anything resembling an ideal situation last night, but I thought he made the best of it in delivering a line of 19-34 (55.9%), 228 yards, 2 TD’s, no INT’s, and one fumbled away exchange. He executed many of the Rhett Lashlee offensive staples nicely, including the false step pass over the middle to Will Mallory, something that takes timing and good eye discipline. While he did look a little uncomfortable on some of the designed runs, this was seemingly the first time Perry showed quality accuracy on short and intermediate routes, something he’s been inconsistent with in his time at Miami. Ultimately, Perry could not make one last play to will the Hurricanes to a win in the end, but he did what could’ve been expected of him and more, and this loss isn’t on him whatsoever.


**My thoughts on the 2020 season and the future at UM. We’ll get more in-depth on this in subsequent articles and podcasts, but here is the short(er) version for now. 2020 brought the entire world unique challenges and college football was no exception. Considering Miami was on the verge on not even being able to field a team some weeks, I thought the coaches did a good job keeping the ship afloat despite many unforeseen circumstances. 8-3 was what I predicted in preseason with an 11-game slate, so Miami met my expectations overall. The offense and special teams units took major steps forward this year compared to 2019; Lashlee established himself as a young, creative offensive mind that has the offense going in the right direction, UM finally found an answer to their QB woes, and the kicking game was a major asset instead of a major disaster.

Miami also solved a years long bugaboo in terms of beating all the teams they’re supposed to beat and stayed focused each and every week. It was a key and necessary step for Manny Diaz to make in his second year, but that was the easy part. For UM to make the next jump as a program, they have to start beating the better teams on their schedule; Miami lost to the best three teams they played this year, and two of those contests weren’t even close. Because the defense clearly took a step back this season, that side of the ball will get the most scrutiny this offseason, and deservedly so; many fans feel like Blake Baker and Mike Rumph should be on the chopping block. However, given how involved Manny is with the defense and the DB’s specifically, I see changes at those spots being pretty pointless in the grand scheme if the change is going to be to another younger, “less experienced than Diaz”, system hire that will essentially always have to defer to what Diaz wants.

For Miami to really make a jump in 2021, Manny will either have to give up some control of the defense, hiring a more grizzled veteran type at those spots and/or give a younger hire more freedom, transitioning himself even closer towards a “CEO” role; or keep things status quo, really prioritize recruiting better talent (which, this class was a good start), and evolve further as a defensive mind. Basically, making a change at DC, CB coach, or anywhere else on defense isn’t going to do much more than placate the fanbase temporarily and nothing will fundamentally change if those moves don’t coincide with Diaz giving up some control. Manny has shown some promising signs, but ultimately hasn’t really proven he can be a championship-level coach yet at Miami. The question of this offseason will be if he decides to go out and get some more coaching firepower on defense that will challenge Diaz to expand his way of thinking, or continue to bet on himself and his own system regarding that side of the ball.


Grades

Offense: B+

34 points scored and 512 total yards against an above average defense coming in. Given how Lashlee was calling plays with one hand behind his back in some ways with King out and the wide receivers playing hot potato, that’s a pretty awesome output. Only 1 three and out. 6.56 ypp. Needed a better mark than 4-14 (28.6%) on third downs. 1 giveaway. 4-4 in the red zone (3 TD’s). OL surrendered only 5 TFL and 1 sack against the #11 pass rush in terms of sacks per game coming in. Would have been an “A-” without all the drops.

Defense: C-

37 points and 412 yards allowed. Missing arguably their best two players and made a good recovery during the final three quarters, but no real excuse to get shredded like that in the first quarter and putting the team in a massive hole. Solid havoc stats with 2 sacks and 9 TFL. Still deficient in the TO department, recording none. Allowed 6 for 15 (40%) on third downs. 5.04 ypp allowed. Recorded 5 three and outs.

Special Teams: C+

Jose Borregales was Mr. Automatic yet again, doing everything asked of him (2-2 FG’s, 2-2 XP’s). Lou Hedley had a solid day with a 44.7 ypp average on 3 punts and 1 inside the 20. Mike Harley dropped this grade from the “A-/B+” range with a muffed punt turnover with UM set for good field position, although he made up for it a bit with a nice 38-yard kick return, a season-long for UM.

Coaching: D

Miami continued to be one of the most penalized teams in 2020 with 8 penalties for 76 yards, with many coming in key moments; that’s still hard to swallow even with the ref issues. Did not have the team prepared and motivated to start, leading to another sluggish opening. Was impressed by the creativity and overall output from by Lashlee on offense even with a ton working against him. To say the gameplan on defense was extremely lackluster is putting it mildly, and it took way too long to adjust.
Our OL provides NO push on running plays. Instead of allowing King to scramble when a play breaks now, we have scripted QB draws..... 😐 Everytime Keyshawn Smith is in the game, he gets behind the defense....yet they keep playing 6 and 8
 
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Regarding Perry and making one last play, I looked at our last 4 downs.
All we needed was one more first down to give Jose a shot from 50-55.

1st down- Perry delivered, Pope didn't. No way we don't score a touchdown there if that catch is made.
2nd down- Pass in the flat to Chaney. Play was there. Mallory missed the block on #3. Would have gone for a first down.
3rd down- Perfect call. Brevin in the slot. The backer on that side was coming. Perry thrown the ball behind Brevin. Would have been at least a first down. Maybe another big gain if he breaks the first tackle as he did a few plays prior.
4th down- If the pass to Redding led him down the field away from the pursuit, similar to the Wiggins tunnel-screen drop, this play is a touchdown. DB's 2 and 4 were blocked on the play. I wouldn't have had the balls to call a pass play to a receiver behind the sticks, but it was there.

Perry started out the last series fine, the first two plays were not on him.
We needed him to execute juuuuust a little better in one of those last two plays to get the W.
I'm not going out on a limb here when I say if the game goes into OT, we win.
The mo and JB was on our side.

I think you're a bit critical of the 3th down play. Perry was under pressure and had to get rid of the ball early and off balance so the pass wasn't perfect and the timing of the blocking was off.

Overall, I thougjt Perry played spectacular given the situation he was put in with very little reps and chemistry with the WRs. Perry did more than enough to win the game. If half the drop passes were caught, Perry throws for 300, we win the game and he's the bowl MVP.

I don't know what Perry is going to do. It looks like a transfer given how Manny is already on social media saying how he can't wait for King to get back and run the team. I think it's a mistake putting all your eggs in one basket on a guy that won't see a down of practice for at least 8 months. Even if King comes back for the start of Fall camp, we don't know what type of player he'll be. He'll be wearing a brace, will have missed 2 Spring football sessions ( the first from Covid-19 cancellation). It's all a mess and I don't know which way to go. I want Perry over the young guys for 2021. He looks like a guy that had been running Lashlee's offense as the starter all year. Maybe they convince him to stay. IDK.

The funny thing is if Perry had sat his whole career as most do until their junior year, we'd be raving how good he'd be in 2021. This is why I don't jump all over young players and dismiss them so easily. Yes, he's a redshirt junior, but it looks like he has matured in the Lashlee offense. Perry said in his post game interview that he loves the Lashlee offense and that Lashlee is the best QB coach he's had.

I just hope he stays because King's return isn't guaranteed.
 
I think you're a bit critical of the 3th down play. Perry was under pressure and had to get rid of the ball early and off balance so the pass wasn't perfect and the timing of the blocking was off.

Overall, I thougjt Perry played spectacular given the situation he was put in with very little reps and chemistry with the WRs. Perry did more than enough to win the game. If half the drop passes were caught, Perry throws for 300, we win the game and he's the bowl MVP.

I don't know what Perry is going to do. It looks like a transfer given how Manny is already on social media saying how he can't wait for King to get back and run the team. I think it's a mistake putting all your eggs in one basket on a guy that won't see a down of practice for at least 8 months. Even if King comes back for the start of Fall camp, we don't know what type of player he'll be. He'll be wearing a brace, will have missed 2 Spring football sessions ( the first from Covid-19 cancellation). It's all a mess and I don't know which way to go. I want Perry over the young guys for 2021. He looks like a guy that had been running Lashlee's offense as the starter all year. Maybe they convince him to stay. IDK.

The funny thing is if Perry had sat his whole career as most do until their junior year, we'd be raving how good he'd be in 2021. This is why I don't jump all over young players and dismiss them so easily. Yes, he's a redshirt junior, but it looks like he has matured in the Lashlee offense. Perry said in his post game interview that he loves the Lashlee offense and that Lashlee is the best QB coach he's had.

I just hope he stays because King's return isn't guaranteed.
Good comments.
I don't think I was being overly critical of Perry. I said that he needed to be " juuuuust a little better".
He played really well.
Even after all of the penalties and drops, if Pope makes that catch we all would have said he had a great game.
 
I dont see Diaz giving up control of the defense. That is his pride and joy, how he made his name, and why James hired him. his defense became average in year 2, so what good is he If he can’t even keep his specialty consistently good?
 
My biggest disappointment is that TVD never got to play enough to see anything of his game. I really liked what I saw in high school but need to see him in this offense. I think he will be good but should have gotten him some snaps.
 
I dont see Diaz giving up control of the defense. That is his pride and joy, how he made his name, and why James hired him. his defense became average in year 2, so what good is he If he can’t even keep his specialty consistently good?
Richt Jr was “the pride and joy” of his daddy. We know how that ended.
 
Ultimately Perry DID make the one last play. It was just dropped by Butter Fingers.
 
Fair write up Stefan. A bitter loss to swallow especially after losing King on what I thought was too many called runs for D’Eriq. Lashlee’s called a better game with Perry I thought. Too many drops were indicative of 6 and 8’s season. They didnt earn the right to be playing in the bowl game. It wasn’t as if they were studs the game prior. Defensively, what a horrific start to the game. After OK St threw right down the field the first TD, where were the adjustments? Sorry, Baker and his lot need to go, it seems every time we fix one aspect of our team, the dam breaks on the other spots. We need a top flight DC, and his staff, to come in and shore up that side of the ball.
 
The Miami Hurricanes fell to the #21 Oklahoma State Cowboys yesterday, ceding the Cheez-It Bowl by a score of 37-34. After a rewatch of the game, here were my takeaways and grades, including some end-of-season thoughts on the direction of the program.


**This was a tough game to evaluate and I had mixed feelings on it for a few reasons. First off, the nature of bowl games today is such that many players who have a shot at being drafted in the NFL skip the game entirely, giving you an incomplete picture of the teams playing, and it was something that was prevalent on both sides in this contest. It was ugly and inexcusable to see how sluggish Miami came out to go down 21-0, giving you that feeling that this was about to be an extension of the UNC game and that the team had completely given up on the season. It should’ve never happened. That’s why it was surprising to see Miami not go into the tank like they had done so many times before and actually punch themselves back into the game, even when it would’ve been especially easy to do so with D’Eriq King’s demoralizing injury and playing most of the game with a QB that had only seen mop-up snaps in this new offense. How the outcome would’ve been affected had King played the whole game is unknowable, and the picture got even murkier considering how the refs became an active participant in the game in key moments. After all that, the Canes still outgained the Cowboys by nearly 100 total yards (512-418). With all that being said, though…


**Miami was not prepared on the defensive side of the ball. Going into the game, Oklahoma State was a team that relied heavily on their running game as the motor that made their offense go. In 2020, the Cowboys ran the ball 60.3% of the time vs. 39.7% of their plays being pass attempts. The Canes obviously knew this as well, as even Manny Diaz mentioned stopping OSU’s run game as a must in his weekly presser, and I’m sure the Cowboys’ #36 rushing attack was even more of a concern to the defensive staff when considering the run D’s apocalyptic performance against UNC in the last game. That’s what made how Oklahoma State started the game even more effective; bucking expectations of yet another run-heavy approach against a UM run defense that was reeling, and anticipating an overcorrection by Blake Baker and staff, Oklahoma State caught the Miami defense completely off guard by beginning the game with 15 straight dropbacks from QB Spencer Sanders.

That soon grew to 19 dropbacks on 24 plays on OSU’s first 3 drives, leading to a 21-0 first quarter advantage for Mike Gundy’s crew before Miami even knew what hit them. Of course, UM’s defense settled into the game after that and allowed 16 points through the remaining 3 quarters, but the damage had already been done. Oklahoma State had to play most of this game without two of the best offensive players in the nation (including an All-American WR), but were able to sub a freshman WR with one career catch right in to produce 100+ yards and 3 TD’s. Yes, despite all that, Miami still had a chance to win at the end of the game, but Baker (and Diaz) got outcoached out of the gate and took way too long to adjust, plain and simple; it ultimately ended up being the difference in the game.


**The WR group needs a ton of work going forward. It was clear and obvious to anyone who watched this game that UM’s receiver group overall is not on par with what should be expected at the University of Miami. The Canes’ receivers had at least 5 drops by my count, and 4 of them would have gone for major gains that would have either scored points or set Miami up for points. It was bad enough for a normal situation, but it was worse considering the receivers had to step up even more with a back-up QB in the game that they needed to give confidence to and help elevate. Above all else, receivers absolutely need to be able to catch the ball with some semblance of consistency; you can’t start to worry about the nuances of the position if you can’t get a handle on the basics. Not to mention what a momentum-killer drops can be, and they most certainly were in this game. Despite a short-lived resurgence in the middle of the season that gave some hope, the WR position aside from Mike Harley was nothing short of a disaster this season, which made it all the more concerning that none of UM’s young receivers really even challenged the veterans for major snaps; that’s not too reassuring going forward. While it’s just year 1 and none these guys are his players, Rob Likens still has a lot to prove at Miami, starting with getting this group back up to an even average level in 2021.


**I loved the way N’Kosi Perry came in and led the team despite so many things working against him. Seeing your team fall behind 21-0. Watching King go down with a potentially devastating injury, then being thrust into the game and having to compose yourself in an offense you’ve only taken a few real snaps in. Delivering ball after ball on target, only to see them go right through receivers fingers. Perry was not put into anything resembling an ideal situation last night, but I thought he made the best of it in delivering a line of 19-34 (55.9%), 228 yards, 2 TD’s, no INT’s, and one fumbled away exchange. He executed many of the Rhett Lashlee offensive staples nicely, including the false step pass over the middle to Will Mallory, something that takes timing and good eye discipline. While he did look a little uncomfortable on some of the designed runs, this was seemingly the first time Perry showed quality accuracy on short and intermediate routes, something he’s been inconsistent with in his time at Miami. Ultimately, Perry could not make one last play to will the Hurricanes to a win in the end, but he did what could’ve been expected of him and more, and this loss isn’t on him whatsoever.


**My thoughts on the 2020 season and the future at UM. We’ll get more in-depth on this in subsequent articles and podcasts, but here is the short(er) version for now. 2020 brought the entire world unique challenges and college football was no exception. Considering Miami was on the verge on not even being able to field a team some weeks, I thought the coaches did a good job keeping the ship afloat despite many unforeseen circumstances. 8-3 was what I predicted in preseason with an 11-game slate, so Miami met my expectations overall. The offense and special teams units took major steps forward this year compared to 2019; Lashlee established himself as a young, creative offensive mind that has the offense going in the right direction, UM finally found an answer to their QB woes, and the kicking game was a major asset instead of a major disaster.

Miami also solved a years long bugaboo in terms of beating all the teams they’re supposed to beat and stayed focused each and every week. It was a key and necessary step for Manny Diaz to make in his second year, but that was the easy part. For UM to make the next jump as a program, they have to start beating the better teams on their schedule; Miami lost to the best three teams they played this year, and two of those contests weren’t even close. Because the defense clearly took a step back this season, that side of the ball will get the most scrutiny this offseason, and deservedly so; many fans feel like Blake Baker and Mike Rumph should be on the chopping block. However, given how involved Manny is with the defense and the DB’s specifically, I see changes at those spots being pretty pointless in the grand scheme if the change is going to be to another younger, “less experienced than Diaz”, system hire that will essentially always have to defer to what Diaz wants.

For Miami to really make a jump in 2021, Manny will either have to give up some control of the defense, hiring a more grizzled veteran type at those spots and/or give a younger hire more freedom, transitioning himself even closer towards a “CEO” role; or keep things status quo, really prioritize recruiting better talent (which, this class was a good start), and evolve further as a defensive mind. Basically, making a change at DC, CB coach, or anywhere else on defense isn’t going to do much more than placate the fanbase temporarily and nothing will fundamentally change if those moves don’t coincide with Diaz giving up some control. Manny has shown some promising signs, but ultimately hasn’t really proven he can be a championship-level coach yet at Miami. The question of this offseason will be if he decides to go out and get some more coaching firepower on defense that will challenge Diaz to expand his way of thinking, or continue to bet on himself and his own system regarding that side of the ball.


Grades

Offense: B+

34 points scored and 512 total yards against an above average defense coming in. Given how Lashlee was calling plays with one hand behind his back in some ways with King out and the wide receivers playing hot potato, that’s a pretty awesome output. Only 1 three and out. 6.56 ypp. Needed a better mark than 4-14 (28.6%) on third downs. 1 giveaway. 4-4 in the red zone (3 TD’s). OL surrendered only 5 TFL and 1 sack against the #11 pass rush in terms of sacks per game coming in. Would have been an “A-” without all the drops.

Defense: C-

37 points and 412 yards allowed. Missing arguably their best two players and made a good recovery during the final three quarters, but no real excuse to get shredded like that in the first quarter and putting the team in a massive hole. Solid havoc stats with 2 sacks and 9 TFL. Still deficient in the TO department, recording none. Allowed 6 for 15 (40%) on third downs. 5.04 ypp allowed. Recorded 5 three and outs.

Special Teams: C+

Jose Borregales was Mr. Automatic yet again, doing everything asked of him (2-2 FG’s, 2-2 XP’s). Lou Hedley had a solid day with a 44.7 ypp average on 3 punts and 1 inside the 20. Mike Harley dropped this grade from the “A-/B+” range with a muffed punt turnover with UM set for good field position, although he made up for it a bit with a nice 38-yard kick return, a season-long for UM.

Coaching: D

Miami continued to be one of the most penalized teams in 2020 with 8 penalties for 76 yards, with many coming in key moments; that’s still hard to swallow even with the ref issues. Did not have the team prepared and motivated to start, leading to another sluggish opening. Was impressed by the creativity and overall output from by Lashlee on offense even with a ton working against him. To say the gameplan on defense was extremely lackluster is putting it mildly, and it took way too long to adjust.
Nice assessment. Wish I had you grading some of my school papers. 😎
 

2021 Commits

S
6'5"
220
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DT
6'4"
265
Miami, FL
OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
WR
5'9"
190
Miami, FL
DE
6'5"
210
Miami, FL
WR
6'2"
180
Miami, FL
RB
6'0"
225
Hollywood, FL
TE
6'4"
210
Frisco, TX
STR
6'3"
190
Melbourne, FL
S
5'11"
200
Miami, FL

Latest Predictions

by 247 Canes
Low
by Dwinstitles
High
by Stylie
Medium
by IbzRlz
High
by IbzRlz
High
09/10 vs
UAB
Win 31 - 14
09/19 @
LOU
Win 47 - 34
09/26 vs
FSU
Win 52 - 10
10/10 @
CLEM
Loss 42 - 17
10/17 vs
PITT
Win 31 - 19
10/24 vs
UVA
Win 19 - 14
11/06 @
NCST
Win 44 - 41
11/14 @
VT
Win 25 - 24
12/05 @
DUKE
Win 48 - 0
12/12 vs
UNC
Loss 62 - 26
12/19 vs
GT
12/29 vs
OKST
Loss 34 - 31
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