After the Storm: VT

After the Storm: VT

Stefan Adams
The Miami Hurricanes finally got out of the losers' column, picking up a 38-14 win over the Virginia Tech Hokies to break their 4 game skid. Here were my thoughts and grades after the game.


Everything always feels better after a win. Miami locked up a bowl berth by topping the Hokies and that’s a milestone in any team’s season. No, things aren’t perfect in Coral Gables, and Virginia Tech probably has their worst team in decades, but a win in Blacksburg is nothing to scoff at. This win won’t cure all that ills the Miami program, but it is certainly a step in the right direction and will give the team some confidence. It also provides hope that Miami can finish this season with some type of momentum to help propel them into Signing Day and the 2019 season.


N’Kosi Perry’s numbers don’t do him justice. Making his 5th career start, Perry had a final line of 21-34 (62%) for 171 yards and two touchdowns, but I felt he played better than that indicated. The first TD was a perfectly placed fade to a well-covered Darrell Langham, who snagged the ball out of the air with one hand over the VT defender. Mark Richt gave Perry a steady diet of quick, easy passes for the majority of the game and it allowed the Canes to stay in front of the sticks and keep on schedule. The placement of some of his bubble screens has been off at times, but Perry had more than a few throws where he was right on the money and his receivers let him down for potential big plays. Perry was also under siege yet again due to a crumbling offensive line, but was able to escape the collapsing pocket and make positive plays with his legs, including a TD run just before halftime. Echoing his comments earlier in the week, Perry certainly looked as comfortable and in command of the offense as he has all season.


Dropped passes have become a theme this season. The score really could have gotten out of hand if Miami’s receivers played up to their talent level. Dee Wiggins and Travis Homer both dropped likely TD passes, having a few steps on their defender and nothing but grass in front of them; Langham also mishandled a third down pass right in his hands. This was an issue that became obvious during the FSU game and something that has kept recurring throughout the season. I don’t want to hear about blocking on the edge; catching the ball should be the first requirement to getting on the field and it’s something that Ron Dugans has to clean up.


Cam Davis has emerged into a real weapon. Before Lorenzo Lingard went down with a knee injury and DeeJay Dallas’ fumble issues, Davis seemed destined to redshirt, but things have changed big-time here lately. Davis has looked like Miami’s best running back the past two weeks, averaging 9.6 yards per carry on 13 runs, and found the endzone twice against VT after scoring his first career TD in the week prior. Davis has shown the ability to do it all, as he gets what’s blocked for him and can also create something out of nothing, something he showed on a weaving 35 yard run in the 4th quarter that looked to be stopped for a short gain. Davis has also made an impact in the passing game, taking a swing pass for a TD against VT. Although Travis Homer was still the main bellcow with 14 touches, Davis out touched Dallas this week for the first time, 8-5, and that’s a trend to keep an eye on these last few games.


The LB unit has improved in coverage. The linebackers have rightfully been criticized for their issues in pass coverage the past two seasons, but I have seen much better play in the passing game from the linebackers this year. In particular, Shaq Quarterman read the eyes of VT QB Ryan Willis and jumped in front of a slant route to set Miami’s offense up inside the Hokies’ 5 yard line. Romeo Finley has also made a big impact in the striker linebacker role, breaking up another pass (his 4th of the year) against VT and tallying a career-high 5 tackles in the win. Finley can just do so much more than Zach McCloud in being able to stick with TE’s and RB’s, and that changes how Miami can defend across the board. Finley has been one of the more underrated players on the defense this season.


Turnovers weren’t the sole difference, but made a huge impact. Over UM’s 4 game losing streak, they did not win the turnover battle once. In breaking the streak against VT, Miami decidedly won the turnover battle 3-0, as the Canes finally got back to protecting the ball and taking the rock away from the opponent. It’s no coincidence it lead to a comfortable Miami win, and breaking out the turnover chain early and often was such a key component to the run Miami made in 2017.


Joe Jackson has come on strong after a slow start. Early on in the season, Jackson took a back seat to both Jon Garvin and Gerald Willis in terms of standouts on the defensive line. With only a half sack through 3 games, everybody began to wonder what was wrong with 99. Any concerns about his elbow injury have been put to rest over the past 8 games, as Jackson has recorded 6 sacks and 10 TFL in that span. Jackson’s best game may have been last week against the Hokies, as he was a terror off the edge all night in racking up 2.5 TFL and 1.5 sacks while pressuring VT QB Ryan Willis on a few other instances. Jackson has lived up to his billing in 2018 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave early for the NFL.


UM finally got multiple RB’s on the field at the same time. Something I called for last week in this column was getting creative with DeeJay Dallas and starting to line him up all over the formation. Lo and behold, this week you saw Miami lining Dallas up on the outside as a receiver with either Homer or Davis in the backfield and throwing Dallas some bubbles. These looks led to Miami’s backs collectively catching a season high six passes and opened up even more of the field for the offense. It’s just another variation that opponents have to prepare for and getting the best athletes on the field more often is only going to help Miami.


The Canes are out of scholarship TE’s. Miami will have no scholarship TE’s at least for one week, after both Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory went down with injuries against VT and were ruled out for the regular season finale against Pitt on Saturday. All four of UM’s TE’s have gone down in a season where depth was thin at the spot and Miami couldn’t afford to really lose one; just bad luck. Jordan, Mallory, and Michael Irvin II all have the potential to return for UM’s bowl game, but against Pitt, expect even more 4 wide, 2 RB’s, and FB looks from the offense.


Grades


Offense: B+

The offense themselves put up 30+ points for the first time since the FIU game back in September. Perry kept the offense on schedule with quick passes and both Homer and Davis were pluses in the running game. UM could have really done some damage without so many drops, but 339 total yards and 7-15 (47%) on third downs is good considering Miami went into a shell for the entire fourth quarter.

Defense: A

Miami’s D started slow, giving up 14 points through early in the second quarter. From the 10 minute mark in the 2nd quarter on, though, UM shut out the Hokies and got back to their nation leading TFL ways, racking up 11 TFL and 4 sacks in slamming the door on VT. 3 turnovers and holding the Hokies to 2-12 (17%) on third downs were cherries on top.

Special Teams: A

This might be the first week I can remember with no miscues on this unit. The grade here is always going to get a bump when this unit scores a TD, which is exactly what happened on Jeff Thomas’ acrobatic 51 yard punt return. Bubba Baxa did his job on his only field goal attempt and the Canes let up zero big runs on returns. The punting game was even not terrible, with Jack Spicer hitting a 50 yard punt and downing VT inside their own 20 three times.

Coaching: B+

The penalties here were even more out of control than last week, with Miami picking up 11 for 71 yards. That was the only ding I could find, because I liked the offensive gameplan of short passing VT to death and also the change of lining up Dallas at WR. After a rocky start, Manny Diaz made great adjustments on D to shut out VT for almost three quarters. The team was focused and prepared to play on the road in Blacksburg despite a 4 game losing streak and losing two players to suspension.
 

Comments (24)

T

Dropped passes have become a theme this season. The score really could have gotten out of hand if Miami’s receivers played up to their talent level. Dee Wiggins and Travis Homer both dropped likely TD passes, having a few steps on their defender and nothing but grass in front of them; Langham also mishandled a third down pass right in his hands. This was an issue that became obvious during the FSU game and something that has kept recurring throughout the season. I don’t want to hear about blocking on the edge; catching the ball should be the first requirement to getting on the field and it’s something that Ron Dugans has to clean up.

Maybe it's just me but the Wr's have been a huge disappointment this season. They were horrible vs Duke and probably cost us that game. WTH Duggans? You were our best coach on O but this unit hasn't played well. oh.... and can CAGER never take the field again? cool.
 
“I don’t want to hear about blocking on the edge; catching the ball should be the first requirement to getting on the field and it’s something that Ron Dugans has to clean up “. Amen 👌🏼

You beat me to it.. I read that and gave this writeup a big thumbs up. All we heard all offseason was how as a WR playing at UM the first thing you need to focus on is blocking. Like catching the football was just a given. We need to flip that this offseason.

Blocking is great and all but the 3 best WRs in the NFL ill bet don't spend their days honing their blocking skills. (Julio, ABrown, OBJ) And the probably the best blocking WR of all time will have to wait years to get in the HOF and was never considered the best WR in the NFL in any year. (Hines Ward)

Lets cut the BS and get back to the basics in the Spring.
 
Take away the QB situation and Cam Davis is another example of this false narrative fans have had about playing someone because of experience

Deejay has been one of our best players this year and lost his snaps last week. Richt isn’t afraid to make those changes (glaring QB situation aside)

Lingard coming back is going to make things pretty exciting next year if we can get some kind of life from our OL
 
funny how dugans went from saint to on the hot seat basically

it's like hartley started coaching WRs all of a sudden
 
Take away the QB situation and Cam Davis is another example of this false narrative fans have had about playing someone because of experience

Deejay has been one of our best players this year and lost his snaps last week. Richt isn’t afraid to make those changes (glaring QB situation aside)

Lingard coming back is going to make things pretty exciting next year if we can get some kind of life from our OL

interesting to hear Kelly Bryant saying Richt is touting next years OL as his best here, we'll see
 
I really really hope that is still obvious that Searles has to go. Playcalling being terrible aside, I think the O line hampers us waaaay more than that.
 
@Stefan Adams has there been any talk about Pope around campus? Cause he seemed like the most sure fire hands coming in, but now is acting like hes not happy. Gotta think we use this dude more the last couple of games.
 
You beat me to it.. I read that and gave this writeup a big thumbs up. All we heard all offseason was how as a WR playing at UM the first thing you need to focus on is blocking. Like catching the football was just a given. We need to flip that this offseason.

Blocking is great and all but the 3 best WRs in the NFL ill bet don't spend their days honing their blocking skills. (Julio, ABrown, OBJ) And the probably the best blocking WR of all time will have to wait years to get in the HOF and was never considered the best WR in the NFL in any year. (Hines Ward)

Lets cut the BS and get back to the basics in the Spring.


I agree with your post - but I’d argue that if you watch Julio Jones weekly, his blocking is tremendous downfield and even at the line when freeing up other receivers on screens. It doesn’t hurt that he’s usually being bracketed so there is always at least one defender he can put a body on.

I know I’m probably splitting hairs here. Blocking is an attitude. Our guys need to catch better and that should be first. I do want to see our guys develop that ‘bully’ mindset and we loved it play out last year because Berrios/Herndon didn’t drop much.
 
Unfortunately, Searles isn't going anywhere.

Richt and crew have been saying since the beginning of the season that next year's OL should be much better than what we've had with Gaynor plus the freshman taking over plus Donaldson and Scaife.
 
Amen on the WRs. I’ve been beating that drum forever. We’ve been so brainwashed by these conservative clowns masquerading as coaches here over the last 20+ years that our assh0leface fans sound like Bo Schembechler clones. All they want to talk about is blocking like we’re some cornfed fat ankled bunch of Midwest slobs.

Get your goddam WRs out there running past people and catching TDs and go fck your own eyes out with that “they gotta block first and foremost” Madden cliche shyt.
 
Maybe it's just me but the Wr's have been a huge disappointment this season. They were horrible vs Duke and probably cost us that game. WTH Duggans? You were our best coach on O but this unit hasn't played well. oh.... and can CAGER never take the field again? cool.
Definitely not just you who thinks that.
 

2021 Commits

S
6'5"
220
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DT
6'4"
255
Miami, FL
OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
DT
6'4"
290
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

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