- May 21, 2016
Here. We. Go.Each week I will jump in the lab and attempt to dissect the upcoming opponents’ film in the series Opponent Film Review. North Carolina is coming off of a major win for their program against an SEC team in what was essentially a road game. Now they welcome back old friend Mack Brown in his first home game, at night, with their fans selling the game out in a matter of hours. They will be fired up to see the Canes come to town, but will their play back up their words? Let’s find out.
One of the things I talked about on the podcast was to use counters and misdirection to use the aggressiveness of UNC against them. Here, this is a simple swing pass that the entire defense runs to way too hard and opens a major cutback lane for the RB. This is exactly the type of play that DeeJay Dallas would feast upon.
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Here they use their best WR on a jet sweep fake (technically he went behind the QB, but I’m simplifying terms). They then have a read-option for the QB. The edge comes upfield and takes the QB. Both outside defenders take the WR and there is a TD if he breaks one tackle here. Tate on this exact play would draw the eye of the defense as well. Cam’Ron Harris and his speed and acceleration probably houses this play.
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I would love to see Miami add a wrinkle on this play here (another read-option with WR motion across). Have Jarren keep this ball as UNC is super aggressive attacking the RB and flow down the LOS. If the slot defender comes for the QB, he has an easy little pass to the WR on the sideline. If not, he’s got two blockers on one guy outside.
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UNC on defense relies a lot on their LB’s and blitzing to create pressure. Here, they drop that edge into the flat and cross-dog blitz their two LB’s into the A-gap. Surratt comes free and has a clean hit on the QB (who gets away). Surratt was their QB in last year’s game but looks to have taken to LB very naturally.
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This is known as a trap block on the edge by the RT. He looks as though he’s going to leave the edge unblocked and make his way to the LB, but then blocks down on a designed edge run. The free LB is held by the read option and the give to the RB allows him to go up the far sideline for a big play. You can see the space UNC is creating the wide side of the field with the WR almost on the sideline.
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UNC bases almost the entirety of their running game on shotgun reads. They like to pull the QB and use him in the run game as well. It is imperative that the interior of the DL play well and that when Miami gets a chance to hit Howell, they need to do so repeatedly. All game long the defense needs to punish him. Their passing game relies on flood concepts and getting players into space underneath and then running-after-the-catch. It’s a very similar style of offense to what you see from most Air-Raid teams that like to use extreme pace on offense. (Not pictured)
A theme that was a big issue for UNC last year was missed tackles. Thus far in this game, you can really see that is going to be an issue again. Miami’s RB’s are going to need to make a man miss at times during this game as UNC is extremely blitz heavy in their run defense. Here a free blitzer has the RB right in the hole and just misses him as the RB goes for a first down.
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Free blitzing LB in the hole, the edge is set on the outside. RB spins off this tackle and goes for a TD. Miami has to establish the running game against this team and make them tackle all game long.
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This defensive front loves to play games up front and do a lot of X-stunts, or fire blitzes. The X-stunt is when they cross each other, and the fire is when starts upfield and then comes underneath right behind another defender who has gone upfield already. It creates confusion on the line and forces OL to pass defenders off correctly. Thus far, it has been more important to have a good interior line than T’s because UNC plays the most games off the interior. Could be game plan specific, but that’s what I’m seeing.
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Defensively, I want to see Miami jump the first read with their LB’s. Whether that be to stay in the slant lane outside or jump the hook zone, Howell is a one-read guy. He has to actually see it open before he throws it. If that outside LB stays outside and follows the eyes of the QB here this is a pick. Instead, he flows down too far because of the motion and gives up the throwing lane. A QB who throws with anticipation is already throwing this ball, instead Howell has to actually “see” the WR open, which gets him to pause a beat. That opens up chances for picks from your LB’s and S’s.
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UNC pulls their OL on the majority of plays. They’re pulling their G, or their T, or C (or both) on inside-zone runs over and over again. The LB’s are a major key in this game. They have to fill the right gap and tackle for us to shut down this run game. It’s a nice scheme that UNC is running. I like their offense. Block down on right-side, pull across and kick out block. Split zone. The LB’s are trying to communicate mid-play.
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LB stays back on play-fake, follows eyes of QB into hook zone (slant behind him) and has a TD if he just catches the ball. It’s important that Miami finish these plays in this game.
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Miami needs to pressure UNC with their front-4 or with occasional blitzes. Howell drops his eyes and looks at the rush almost every time the first read isn’t there. I’m sure my North Carolina counterpart writing his article right now is saying the same thing about Jarren as well. (Not pictured)
Defensively, UNC has blitzed on every third down thus far. They like to pressure in the A-gaps, which has made Jake Bentley have incredibly happy feet. I absolutely believe the game plan will be the same against Jarren and Miami.
I’ve been waiting for a good angle to show the mesh point and the way UNC really plays to get their runs on cutbacks. This puts #53 in such a tough position because they are cutting on the backside and giving their RB a designed cutback. #6 can’t crash this because Howell can really run. It’s imperative that the backside DT keep his feet on these interior runs. UNC is making up for a lack of physical talent with a lot of schematic adjustments. They’ve assembled a good coaching staff.
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He pulls his eyes down any time you pressure him, but especially if you get middle pressure. Need the DT’s to play well against this offense.
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This is good coaching. The entire game this play has been over-and-over again pull that G around, inside give, have the outside or a cutback. Get to a 4th down play and it looks exactly the same as it has all game long. Only this time, this is a sprint option towards the numbers. Defense has a guy out there, but can’t defend the pitch and it’s an easy 1st down.
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South Carolina had two long returns on special teams (one punt, one kickoff). Miami has a chance to hit a big play in the return game in this one. (Not pictured)
Busted coverage in the seam where a young S never gets into the middle of the field (sound familiar?) and this goes for a TD to the TE. Miami has an opportunity to exploit this defense over the middle with their TE’s. Mallory should eat on a route like this.
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Tips the ball to himself for a TD on a fade route. This is a nice ball by Howell. He’s a pretty talented player.
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Howell completes this to his WR. He will lead you to the football with his eyes. Throws across his body and into coverage. If Miami speeds him up, gets pressure, they will get 3+ interceptions from this kid.
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Another fade for another TD. The kid can throw the fade route with touch.
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Keys to the game
- Miami needs to be able to stop the run with their front-7. UNC ran for well over 200 yards against a pretty good South Carolina defense. I expect UNC to get their yards, but Miami needs to be able to tackle and get the RB down without committing an extra defender.
- The LB’s need to stick to their keys and not jump the fake. UNC wants to show eye candy and then pull the ball and hit the slant behind it. There are chances to make plays if they just follow the eyes of the QB.
- Miami must hit Howell every chance they get. This is the game to get back to nasty football. Miami was far too nice against Florida and this game I want to see violence. Make Howell regret the day he decided to play QB against this defense.
- Offensively, Miami must communicate on the OL. North Carolina will blitz a ton in this game and most of it will be in the A-gaps. If they don’t communicate, it will lead to turnovers.
- How does Miami handle the pressure and the atmosphere. They are staring 0-2 in the face and all of The New Miami stuff goes out the window. Will they respond, or they will show the familiar fold of recent history?
- Break tackles. UNC will be fired up to play early, but if Miami matches that energy with physical play and violence running the ball, there will be broken tackles that accumulate into UNC folding down the stretch. Can Miami show that toughness?
UNC put some nice things on film in this game. They showed the ability to be physical in the run game and they showed that they have the ability to exploit mismatches as the game goes along. This team was better than I expected them to be based on how they played last year, but there are opportunities here as well.
This is not going to be the easy game I had once hoped for. Mack Brown has hired two excellent coordinators who created an excellent game plan against South Carolina. Coaching in college matters a lot and this is not last year’s North Carolina team. That said, they do not have the DL talent that Florida had and I expect Miami will be able to run the ball and exploit missed tackles in this one. Expect Miami to grind this one out, get a few turnovers, and win the game 31-24.