After the Storm: UAB

View as article

Stefan Adams

Managing Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 9, 2018
Messages
2,697
The Miami Hurricanes defeated the UAB Blazers on Thursday night in their season opener, 31-14. After a weekend rewatch of the game, these were my main takeaways and grades.


**It wasn’t always pretty, but Miami got the job done in Manny Diaz’s second season debut. Miami won their first season opener since 2017, and beat national expectations in covering the 14.5 point spread. The idea is that the team has now worked out some of the kinks after a shortened offseason, gained some confidence, and will regroup with an extra few days off and build on what they showed this weekend ahead of the ACC opener vs. Louisville on Saturday.

Yes, a true Canes team that’s “rolling” and “back” would have blown the Blazers out from the opening whistle, but that is not reality for Miami right now as they continue to try and build up the program to its former glory. They are going to have to grind out a lot of wins this season, a least until the offense gets a little more comfortable in the new system. It’s always hard for this fanbase to manage expectations, but remember, this is a team coming off a 6-7 season and a shutout loss to Louisiana Tech in the bowl game; there’s work to be done to mark real improvement and there will be bumps along the way.


**Let’s talk about what the new offense showed. In his first game at the helm of the Miami attack, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee put up 495 yards total yards in a game where UM largely sat on the ball in the 4th quarter with Miami up 17; UM’s offense only reached that figure once last season against FBS competition (Virginia Tech). This was against a 9-win UAB team that the advanced metrics crowd loved and returned nearly everyone from the SP+ 28th ranked defense in 2019. The pace of play also saw a noticeable uptick, as you couldn’t look away between plays for very long without missing the next snap (78 plays vs. UAB after averaging 65 last season). Lashlee clearly wanted to establish the run early and often vs. the Blazers, as UM racked up 337 rushing yards on 52 total carries; while we expected Miami would feature the run more than most spread offenses based on Lashlee’s history, UM was even more run-heavy than Lashlee’s teams at SMU. It will be interesting to see if that was a one-game anomaly based on opponent or if that’s a sign of things to come in 2020.


**That’s not to say everything ran completely smoothly on offense. Far from it, especially in the first quarter that saw UM struggle to establish a consistent run game with an OL that wasn’t getting much push, while the passing game experienced timing issues; I honestly expected some struggles in the first few games of the season as UM adjusts to the new system in what was a shortened offseason. UM kept knocking, though, and eventually broke down the door in the second half; all three of Miami's drives in the third quarter went for at least 7 plays and 66 yards, and each resulted in points. UM was also consistently picking up first downs even on drives where they weren’t scoring points, something that was a major issue last season and always seemed to put the defense in bad spots; Miami’s offense only had 2 three and outs on their first 10 drives before locking up the game in the 4th quarter. 7-17 (41.1%) on third downs also helped in this area (28.8% in 2019), plus 2-2 on 4th down. I also liked how following each of UAB’s touchdowns, the offense responded immediately with two quick TD drives of their own, both under 2 minutes and 17 seconds, to kill any possible momentum for the Blazers. It wasn’t a barnburner vs. a Group of 5 opponent or anything, but I thought it was an overall encouraging debut for Lashlee with clear areas to build upon going forward.


**With the Hurricanes’ OL still giving up too many pressures, what D'Eriq King offers with his legs is even more valuable to this team. UAB had only 2 sacks in the game, but it could have been quite a few more without the escapability King displayed. Then you get into the fact that UAB’s defense was terrified of King getting loose on the QB zone reads and crashed hard on him most every time, which in part allowed for the Miami RB’s to go hog wild (38 carries for 257 yards at 6.8 ypc for backs). King ultimately ran for 83 yards on 12 carries and a TD, mostly making something out of nothing under pressure and showcasing some highlight reel scrambles (five broken tackles and four 10+ yard gains on five scrambles).

In the passing game, there were clear timing issues between King and his receivers, notably overthrowing a wide-open Jeremiah Payton in the endzone for an easy TD in what was his worst throw of the day. King was still able to hit on 66.7% of his passes (16-24), throwing for 144 yards (6.0 ypa) and a TD. That also extended King’s FBS record of 16 straight games with both a running and passing TD. King and Miami will have to hit on more big plays in the passing game for this offense to reach it’s true potential, but the hope is that those will come as the various components get more comfortable in this new system and King builds timing with his receivers.


**Nothing about the opener allayed my concerns about the OL and the receivers. In our preseason roundtable, I expressed the fear that both position groups would ultimately hold King and the UM offense back from having a truly great season, and that has held up in our first look at the team in a competitive environment. On the OL, the unit allowed consistent pressure on King that might have been disastrous without his dual-threat abilities, while simultaneously struggling to open up holes for the backs early in the game. While they slowly got it together in the running game as the contest progressed, it was something that was alarming to see ahead of the jump up in competition to Louisville this weekend. You’ve now also already seen UM make a change up front, subbing Jakai Clark into the starting lineup over Ousman Traore at left guard at practice earlier today.

Also, no receiver caught more than 3 passes for 27 yards in UM’s only game against a Group of 5 opponent this season. While some might chalk that up to the timing issues previously discussed or the run-heavy gameplan, while hoping for improvement as the season goes along, I wasn’t seeing a ton of separation and the lack of a true #1 receiver was apparent. If these trends continue further into the season, it’s going to really make life difficult on Lashlee and King to keep up their production.


**Brevin Jordan needs more targets in this offense. Again, it may have been by design for the opponent or because UM didn’t want to show off too much of their offense, but it’s a problem when one of the nation’s best TE’s only has one look in the first half on an offense with inexperience at wideout. Lashlee made up for that by going to Jordan three times in the third quarter alone, and the junior TE converted that into 3 catches for 51 yards and a TD with some impressive YAC in the open field. Shocking, I know. With the question marks at WR, Jordan’s value to this team is even greater aside from his obvious talent level, so UM must make it a priority to get him the ball. Featuring Jordan more often could also take some of the pressure off the WR’s and give them more space to grow.


**I’m warming up to Bradley Jennings having a bigger role in the defense. I was admittedly skeptical about the positive reports on Jennings coming out of practice given what he’s shown in his UM career to this point, but he had an above average game given it was his first career start in place of Shaq Quarterman. He led the team in both tackles (6) and TFL (2) playing a little over half the total snaps, with his “worst” play coming on a sequence when he was clearly held with no call, ultimately leading to a UAB chunk run. I’m not expecting All-World performances, but if he can give UM around what Mike Smith contributed in recent years (or better), that’s a very valuable piece for this LB rotation. Sam Brooks also played a ton as Jennings’ backup (a little less than half the snaps), and he looks even more physical coming off his first full offseason in the program while retaining most of his speed. I’d like to see the snap count slowly shift in Brooks’ favor as he gets his feet wet and the season progresses, but Jennings has earned his PT thus far.


**I’m cooling on DJ Ivey having a bigger role in the defense. Some of the same issues that bit Ivey last season reared their ugly head again this year, including being a step too slow in terms of his long speed and not turning his head when the ball is in the air. He was beat multiple times pretty badly by the UAB receivers and it’s fair to question if the light will ever come on with him in any consistent way at this point. UM waited until the halfway point of the year to bench him after his struggles last season, but I don’t expect Miami to give him as long of a leash in 2020. Te’Cory Couch (FF vs. UAB) has been making a strong push for Ivey’s starting job in practice and Blake Baker already mentioned today that Couch could start vs. Louisville on Saturday.


Grades

Offense: B

This was a hard grade to give because I had some mixed feelings on what I saw from the OL and WR’s, who really struggled at times vs. a Group of 5 opponent. Still, the stats don’t lie: 495 total yards after doing that only once vs. FBS competition in 2019, 337 of which came on the ground, and it was Miami’s second-best day rushing against an FBS team since 2004. Also committed 0 turnovers. All of this against one of the better Group of 5 defenses in the country. Some issues to clean up for sure, but no doubt an improvement from last season.

Defense: B-

Nothing to write home about, just a solid day in holding UAB to 14 points and 285 total yards, including just 80 yards rushing. Also important to remember for context that UM’s punt return fumble set UAB up inside the red zone on their first TD drive. Allowed a paltry 3-15 (20%) on third downs. Some problem areas showed up at corner, and would like to have seen more turnovers and TFL, but the defense kept UM in the game during the offenses’ first half struggles, and completely shut out the Blazers in the pivotal 4th quarter.

Special Teams: C+

I don’t give higher than a C+ when special teams commits a turnover without also scoring a TD themselves, especially when that turnover is inside UM’s own 20 and leads to the first points of the game. Still, aside from that hiccup, you can’t ask for much more from the kicking and punting units: Louis Hedley continued his strong play from last season (47.5 ypp on 6 punts, 2 inside the 20), Jose Borregales did what was asked of him (1-1 FG’s, 4-4 XP’s), and the coverage teams didn’t allow for a single UAB return.

Coaching: B

Hard to give an “A” without a true blowout win vs. a Group of 5 team, but there were some things I liked, including only 3 penalties in Game 1 following a shortened offseason and breaking in a new system on offense (UM was 105/130 FBS teams in 2019 with 7 penalties per game). Didn’t see any major clock management issues. Liked how the team responded with quick TD’s after both UAB scores. Would have liked to see a faster start out of the gate.
 

Damiencane86

Sophomore
Joined
Mar 13, 2018
Messages
1,383
There was a discrepancy in run vs pass blocking for the o line no doubt, but overall they did a decent job and the Louisville defense isn't really full of world beaters either so I think our o line should hold up fine, especially since Louisville must account for King at all times. Totally agree with your assessment on receivers & their timing with King being off as that needs to improve asap.
 

grover

Senior
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
5,024
Nice write-up. Agree with everything but wouldn't have highlighted Jennings. Brooks needs to ramp quickly and ideally take the majority of snaps against UL. Jennings is too limited.

That game would have been a lot closer if the UAB QB were any good. Our CBs were bailed out by his lack of field awareness and accuracy. I think we're in for a tough game against UL if Ivey doesn't improve and stays on the field a lot, because Cunningham is a much better QB. We need our DL to get pressure early and often.
 

#1cane

Freshman
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Messages
380
I saw too many things that remind me of years team. One being the culture Wiggins stupid penalty and Martell being suspended. Kick Martell off the team. Should have blown UAB out period. King's escapability paid off. Finally wore down UAB's defense. I now have every game except Clemson being a toss up.
 

CFB_Hogan

Freshman
Joined
Aug 1, 2020
Messages
377
"On the OL, the unit allowed consistent pressure on King"

I think I have to make offensive breakdowns soon because this isnt accurate.
 

dk72

Senior
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
3,312
I saw too many things that remind me of years team. One being the culture Wiggins stupid penalty and Martell being suspended. Kick Martell off the team. Should have blown UAB out period. King's escapability paid off. Finally wore down UAB's defense. I now have every game except Clemson being a toss up.
Wiggins penalty never should have been flagged, given that the UAB player was holding on to his leg and keeping it lifted up, it was a normal reaction.

I don't understand the nonsense that it's the end of the world because we didn't blow out UAB by enough. We covered the spread, despite basically coasting the final quarter of the game. UAB was a quality team last year, and lost almost nobody from that squad. UAB would probably beat Syracuse (and UNC didn't look great against Syracuse, not pulling away until the end...while Syracuse missed multiple scoring opportunities) and possibly Duke (who played Notre Dame as tough as UAB played us), and most likely would beat Western Kentucky (who hung in with Louisville as well as UAB hung in with us). So if our performance against UAB means we're in trouble, then all of those other teams are in trouble too. Given we just installed a brand new offense, we have more of an excuse for first game issues.
 

DTP

Section 102
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Messages
7,373
Wiggins penalty never should have been flagged, given that the UAB player was holding on to his leg and keeping it lifted up, it was a normal reaction.

I don't understand the nonsense that it's the end of the world because we didn't blow out UAB by enough. We covered the spread, despite basically coasting the final quarter of the game. UAB was a quality team last year, and lost almost nobody from that squad. UAB would probably beat Syracuse (and UNC didn't look great against Syracuse, not pulling away until the end...while Syracuse missed multiple scoring opportunities) and possibly Duke (who played Notre Dame as tough as UAB played us), and most likely would beat Western Kentucky (who hung in with Louisville as well as UAB hung in with us). So if our performance against UAB means we're in trouble, then all of those other teams are in trouble too. Given we just installed a brand new offense, we have more of an excuse for first game issues.
Exactly. Too many of these guys don’t watch any football outside of the Miami game. I watched pretty much all of the televised ACC games on Saturday and I saw a bunch of favorites struggle against weaker teams. ND was in a dog fight with Duke. UNC didn’t put Syracuse away until the fourth quarter. FSU and GT were both terrible. Louisville was sloppy as hell against WKU. The only team that really came out hot and put the game away early was Clemson and everyone knows they’re head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the league. People set their own ridiculous expectations with nothing to back them up on and when they’re not met, they throw a fit. If you thought Miami was just going to go out and run a brand new offense perfectly right off the bat and beat a solid FBS team 60-0 in the first game of the season, you’re living in fantasy land.
 

dk72

Senior
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
3,312
Exactly. Too many of these guys don’t watch any football outside of the Miami game. I watched pretty much all of the televised ACC games on Saturday and I saw a bunch of favorites struggle against weaker teams. ND was in a dog fight with Duke. UNC didn’t put Syracuse away until the fourth quarter. FSU and GT were both terrible. Louisville was sloppy as hell against WKU. The only team that really came out hot and put the game away early was Clemson and everyone knows they’re head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the league. People set their own ridiculous expectations with nothing to back them up on and when they’re not met, they throw a fit. If you thought Miami was just going to go out and run a brand new offense perfectly right off the bat and beat a solid FBS team 60-0 in the first game of the season, you’re living in fantasy land.
Yeah, In the "UL is a 2.5 point favorite" thread a bunch of people are saying we aren't very good and LVille will beat us. While it will be a tough game, and we very well could lose, nothing about them indicates they are so much better than we are. I posted the stats for their game vs. WKU and ours vs. UAB, and it's practically a wash. They did not dominate any more than we did.
 

DTP

Section 102
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Messages
7,373
Yeah, In the "UL is a 2.5 point favorite" thread a bunch of people are saying we aren't very good and LVille will beat us. While it will be a tough game, and we very well could lose, nothing about them indicates they are so much better than we are. I posted the stats for their game vs. WKU and ours vs. UAB, and it's practically a wash. They did not dominate any more than we did.
According to these guys, everyone else is great and every other team’s coach is a genius. The guys openly sucking off FSU when they had a good opening game drive on Saturday were killing me.
 

JAYBLAZE

Sophomore
Joined
Jan 2, 2020
Messages
654
9D93EBA1-2E39-4567-91FA-950C6C18D21E.jpeg
 

canes732

Crafty veteran
Joined
Feb 4, 2013
Messages
2,147
I’m not too worried about most things about this team. Due to the fact it’s week 1 with no spring ball. Only thing I am worried about is the CB play and rotation of defensive players. Hopefully that will be cleaner this week
 

Unsider

Senior
Joined
Jan 19, 2014
Messages
3,366
Miami’s got to compete against itself, better itself. As long as the U rests on its past laurels, it’s screwed. This ugly element shows up in the overall demeanor of the team, players and coaches, for the last 19 years or so. IT HAS TO STOP. IT HAS GOT TO STOP. UAB players were fighting amongst themselves to better themselves. We could learn a thing or two.
 

Trav

Redshirt Freshman
Joined
Nov 3, 2011
Messages
1,153
I saw too many things that remind me of years team. One being the culture Wiggins stupid penalty and Martell being suspended. Kick Martell off the team. Should have blown UAB out period. King's escapability paid off. Finally wore down UAB's defense. I now have every game except Clemson being a toss up.
I don't understand how Tate's suspension has anything to do with our performance vs UAB. You think the passing offense might have been a little better if he was holding a clipboard?
 

Cane1992

Recruit
Joined
Jun 26, 2012
Messages
12
One coaching clock mgt mistake was at the end of the half with Miami at the UAB 40 and 4th down MD let the play clock go down to 2 seconds and called his 2nd TO to run a final play. On the next play King scrambled down inside the 10 yard line but time had expired and no chance for a chip shot FG. What coach should have done is call the timeout with 22 seconds left in the half, run 1 more play and get a shot at a FG. We lost a chance at an easy FG and still had a TO in our pocket. Not good and coach needs to learn from that mistake.
 
Top