Diaz faces tough questions on defense and Baker following UNC, talks bowl prep

Diaz faces tough questions on defense and Baker following UNC, talks bowl prep

Stefan Adams
In his Monday afternoon presser, Miami Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz expressed disappointment on how UM’s regular season ended with an ugly defeat at the hands of North Carolina this weekend, 62-26.

“With our team back in the building this morning, had a team meeting - offense and defense met, had a chance to get in the weight room, get back out there and run which is the best medicine we need right now,” Diaz said. “Disappointing on Saturday.”

The Tar Heels piled up 778 yards of total offense in the game, the most Miami has ever allowed in a single contest, while UNC also set the single-game rushing record vs. the Canes by amassing 554 yards. The 62 points UNC scored were the second most ever scored against Miami, surpassed only by Texas A&M’s 70 in 1944.

After the crushing loss, Diaz mentioned the team won’t practice this week, but will still do regular conditioning work and workouts. Of the player response to the defeat, Diaz said it was an emotional time for the team.

“It was raw,” Diaz said. “Guys are sensitive on how it played out and you want to create a stage and platform that if somebody felt there was something they had to say, they can speak up. The feedback I got, even in the fourth quarter on the sideline in the game, somehow I had multiple guys say when the end of the season became close, we just lost our focus. It’s hard for me to explain, hard for them to explain because it doesn’t make any sense. And yet there it is. There’s no one thing, if there was one thing it would be easy to identify.

“I’m certain there’s some hurt feelings. Because to have a loss that heavy, nobody wants to feel as if they’re the one responsible. There was no one on film, `Oh, boy, this guy, if we’d replaced this guy it’d be different.’ Everyone had a hand in it on both sides of the ball. Everybody could have done something better starting with me. Let’s stop worrying about who is at fault and figuring out how to fix it. The big thing we talked about is let’s not let our present circumstance dictate our future outcome… Things can change if you believe they can change, put the work in.”

Diaz was also asked who on the defensive staff is most responsible for the performances of the players week-to-week.

“The defensive staff, not really all that dissimilar to when I was defensive coordinator,” Diaz said. “We all game plan together throughout the course of the week. I’m in every defensive meeting that ever takes place. Blake (Baker) as a defensive coordinator organizes all the practices and I’m on the defensive field the entire practices. And Blake calls defenses on gameday."

The defensive staff was also affected by the COVID issues that plagued the team over the last few weeks, although Diaz pointed out it wasn’t an excuse for how things went so poorly on that side of the ball vs. UNC.

“We did have some severe disruption with our defensive staff over the last couple of weeks, (but) there’s no excuse for how we played defensively,” Diaz said. “But is it ideal to have coaches missing from the game, coaches not around the players? We had other guys step in that did admirable jobs. What matters now is going forward.”

Diaz was also directly asked about his confidence level in Baker moving forward.

“I’ll answer the question about staff the same way as a year ago - You wait for a season to end, evaluate the season in its entirety and then do what’s best to improve the football team,” Diaz said. “It worked for us a year ago. My job is to get away from the emotion of the super positive or super negative.

“Right now, we have to rebuild it, rebuild it for the bowl game when we find out who we’re playing and where we’re going. Just seven days ago was the exact opposite, our best defensive performance of the year. My responsibility is to get it back on track as the head coach.”

The linebacker play has been poor overall this season at UM, but Diaz is optimistic that some of Miami’s rising talents at the position can solidify that spot in the future.

“We’ve been inconsistent at linebacker,” Diaz said. “A couple of the ones we have coming in as signees we think highly of. The last three classes of linebacker, there are guys that can do it, multiple guys.”

Diaz also spoke on the future of the cornerback position that also saw their share of struggles over the weekend, saying he expects to add at least one, and maybe two more players to the recruiting class this cycle.

“We still think we’ll add another cornerback here shortly and maybe even one after the term," Diaz said. "The things you can’t predict anymore, losing guys to the portal, that type of stuff, you always got to be on your toes recruiting-wise and be able to add our numbers. It certainly hurt us and (UNC was) able to make two big plays in man coverage. Two great throws, but that’s where you’ve just got to continue to develop that position and get ourselves to where we want to be.”

On QB D'Eriq King's future with the program, Diaz was still unsure if King would return for another season at Miami or if he would make the jump to the NFL.

“We’ve spoken to him,” Diaz said of King. “I think with most of our guys right now, the emotion of this past weekend, the entire season has been a grind unlike any other I’ve been around. We encourage most of our guys that have any kind of decision to make to get away from the emotion of Saturday, this season. Over the next week or so, we’ll sit down with D’Eriq, other guys as well, see where their mind is at. When it’s time for him to let us know, I’m sure he will.”

Would another year at Miami be worth it in terms of developing King for the NFL?

“Absolutely,” Diaz said. “I don’t think D’Eriq has ever been in the same offensive system two years in a row… Just the repetition, getting comfortable and doing it, the chemistry - there’s so much more to be accomplished with our offensive personnel, and I think they feel that.”

Will the NCAA rule change allowing players to profit off their name, image and likeness help convince King to return for another year at UM?

“I would hope so. I don’t know when that gets voted in in January, I don’t know if that would help a lot of our young men,” Diaz said. “But that’s a great opportunity for our community with all the commerce, the size of our economy down here compared to other schools, that could be a boon for Miami Hurricanes football. I don’t know if that’ll be the one thing where anybody says `This is why I’m returning,’ but it can’t hurt. That’s one we have to take advantage of down here in South Florida.”

Now the Canes are turning their attention to bowl season, as well as the extra practices playing in a bowl game provides.

“It’ll be different for sure, the whole experience,” Diaz said. “It’s almost a glorified road game for anyone that goes to a bowl. The 15 practices, I don’t think you’ll see that this year. For our guys, it’s about recharging our batteries. We feel we improved the program from where it was a year ago.

“One of the things we have used as our battle cry throughout the year is ‘Let’s go fix some of the things that haven’t been done’. Winning a bowl game ticks a box. The opportunity to finish 9-2 in a year like this, we'll look back and say this was a major step for our program from the year before. There are some things we really did well this year, some things we didn’t do well. This team has a lot to be proud of and I want them to have one more game together.”

Some programs around the country have already opted out of bowl season, but Diaz made clear Miami would play their bowl game this year.

“Our players wanted to play, they expressed that,” Diaz said. “I think we’re helped that we’re here in this state, not far from some potential bowl locations which makes our method of travel different from some other schools out there. It has been very difficult on these student-athletes, but our guys deserve a proper reward.”
 

Comments (47)

"although Diaz pointed out it wasn’t an excuse for how things went so poorly on that side of the ball vs. UNC.

“We did have some severe disruption with our defensive staff over the last couple of weeks, (but) there’s no excuse for how we played defensively,” Diaz said. “But is it ideal to have coaches missing from the game, coaches not around the players? We had other guys step in that did admirable jobs. What matters now is going forward."

Classic loser coach move. "I'm not gonna make excuses here."

Makes excuses.
 
Manny must know that in today’s college football business, his job can be easily filled. If he wants to survive he will fire Baker and Rumph. The real question is whether he is a fool and promotes the bartender to DC and moves DVD to CB coach. I have the feeling that is exactly what he will do.........
 
He is quickly reaching Golden levels for me. How in the hell is he going to admit LB play has been inconsistent but there are guys from the last three classes that can step up, and then he keeps trotting McCloud out there to run himself out of plays?
 
Manny must know that in today’s college football business, his job can be easily filled. If he wants to survive he will fire Baker and Rumph. The real question is whether he is a fool and promotes the bartender to DC and moves DVD to CB coach. I have the feeling that is exactly what he will do.........
NO NEW FUQIN DC is keepin' these JAG A@@ corches'.....including twitter fingers Banda
 
He is quickly reaching Golden levels for me. How in the hell is he going to admit LB play has been inconsistent but there are guys from the last three classes that can step up, and then he keeps trotting McCloud out there to run himself out of plays?
The guy is clueless and in way over his head. He's been here 6 years and not recruited a single linebacker that can play. SIX years and not a single player that can be counted on to play the position.
 
Banda was quarantined and he’s claiming that’s a “severe disruption?” Lmao what’s the point in being a defensive coach and having a DC if you can’t survive your safeties coach missing a couple of days?
Thought I read Stroud was out or sick also
 
I’ll answer the question about staff the same way as a year ago - You wait for a season to end, evaluate the season in its entirety and then do what’s best to improve the football team,” Diaz said. “It worked for us a year ago. My job is to get away from the emotion of the super positive or super negative.”

Baker is gone at end of season
 
Diaz has no one else to blame but himself for that performance. His whole system has always been too gimmicky, and it was exposed by the guy who fired him ... Let go of the reigns on defense and hand it over to a fully committed veteran DC, and I'll start buying in again.
 
I’ll answer the question about staff the same way as a year ago - You wait for a season to end, evaluate the season in its entirety and then do what’s best to improve the football team,” Diaz said. “It worked for us a year ago. My job is to get away from the emotion of the super positive or super negative.”

Baker is gone at end of season

Correct. And you don't fire a coordinator a few days before early signing.
 
I’ll answer the question about staff the same way as a year ago - You wait for a season to end, evaluate the season in its entirety and then do what’s best to improve the football team,” Diaz said. “It worked for us a year ago. My job is to get away from the emotion of the super positive or super negative.”

Baker is gone at end of season
That’s what I was thinking from that comment too. Manny will try to do whatever he can to save his a$$, even if that’s firing his guy.
 
Part of me wonders if, once you get to HC at the P5 level, if you really are just... incapable of seeing what everybody else sees. How many times have we seen this? Golden defending the indefensible. Richt thinking his unqualified son was "doing a great job" with the QBs that regressed every year under him. Manny completely oblivious to how stupid our DC is.

There's gotta be something at this level that just clouds your judgement. Baker would have been fired at halftime under me.
 

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

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