Miami vs. FSU: Defensive Vulnerabilities II

LuCane

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A LOOK AT THE LAYERS

In the previous post (found here: http://canesinsight.com/showthread.php?1250-Miami-vs-FSU-Defensive-Vulnerabilities), I addressed the general circumstances of a rivalry game. However, I focused on the "explosive play," how we've seen some of those examples in our earlier games (and throughout our losses) and how I'd expect the Miami defense to respond to those scenarios.

Another important aspect is how the FSU offense will counter. Where will their area of focus be in this game? How will they attack? I can't tell you exactly what their gameplan will be on Saturday, but I can tell you what *I* would do if I were creating their gameplan. As a subsequent step, I can tell you what Miami's response would be if I were creating their defensive strategy.

WHAT WOULD I DO IF I WERE FSU?

We already looked at some of the weaknesses in Miami's defense against the "explosive play." Certainly, Miami will react to that vulnerability. However, if I were FSU, I'd look at Miami's "holes" in a "layered" plan of attack. By this I mean three key areas out of the spread formation (specifically).

Out of the Spread formation with an equal emphasis on trips (WRs) and balanced sets (2 WRs to each side).

Layer #1

Running the ball out of the Shotgun: The Hurricanes' weaknesses against the zone-read option and other running plays out of the 'Gun have been seen over the course of the year. Even in a game against Bethune Cookman, there were multiple "explosive plays" due to poor angles, tacking and a general inability for LBs to get shed/slip blocks. FSU would be best served to mix this into their formula because (a) their QB has that kind of athletic ability and (b) their RBs all have great cutback ability.

One significant factor of this play is Miami's Defensive Line troubles. Due to lack of depth and overall star power, Miami is either very small at times or simply undermanned. This forces the defensive line to either slant hard against the run or, often times, get caught up in stunts/games in order to create a pass rush. Naturally, as we've already seen happen against Miami's defense, QBs have had success running the ball.

However, the most significant factor of this play is its ability to control the flow of LBs, and ultimately the ability to increase already gaping holes in Miami's defense. When I watched each play of over 20 yards against Miami's defense, I often saw the LBs' either poor instincts or insecurities against the run lead to overreactions to the playaction out of the Shotgun.

Plays to look for: FSU read/option and QB draws

Miami's response

I expect Miami to run blitz a good amount. Whether from the DBackfield out of the nickel/dime packages or with LBs shooting the A & B gaps, Miami's best bet would be to force FSU into decisions. If Miami plays too much read/react this Saturday and Manuel is healthy/active, Miami will be forced to endure entirely too many "body blows."

Layer #2

Because of LB issues - both in terms of shedding/slipping blocks and getting proper depth - Miami is left vulnerable in soft spots when they play either Cover 2 and especially Cover 3. I showed in the previous post Miami's weakness against seam routes when they roll into a single high Safety. An equally large contributor to the problem is the fact Miami's LBs often fail to get proper depth and are seemingly uncomfortable playing Zone defense. I won't belabor the point, but when a LB bites up hard or even gets depth late, the window between the LB and the Safety is obviously enlarged. This is why you often see previously inaccurate QBs suddenly find their accuracy against Miami's defense.

Plays to look for: Seam Routes, Slot WRs sitting down

Miami's Response

Play more Nickel and Dime defense. Even though he's not the best in coverage or angles, Ray Ray Armstrong's suspension hinders Miami's flexibility with JoJo Nicolas. As such, I still think their best bet is to have more defensive backs on the field and send blitzes from unusual launch points (off the slot corner, off the short corner, from the Safety position, etc.). The quicker decisions are made by FSU's QB, the smaller the windows to protect will be.

Layer #3

I've been unusually hard on Miami's Safeties because I felt they had more potential than what they've shown. It's also not difficult to see that they've either regressed or simply looked worse in a slightly different scheme. Given all of the considerations we've already made, there is significant pressure on Miami's safeties to fill lanes with the proper angle, make quicker bursts to the ball, and show better range overall. Can we realistically expect this? I'm not sure.

If I were FSU, and the QB in the run game is where "I'd grind for my money," this area is where I'd "make big money." You can place some of the onus on layer #2, but there are a slew of examples - from KSU to BCC to VTech - where Miami safeties have leaned forward too hard, taken poor angles or simply been unable to get to a spot on a pass play. Even if the run game is not working for FSU, if Manuel is halfway accurate, he should be able to take advantage of this area.

Plays to look for: Seam Routes (opposite hash), Corner Routes, Deep Square In from outside WR

Miami's Response

Blitz, press coverage, prayer. We already saw what can happen when Miami plays press coverage on the outside. We've seen the inability of Safeties to "make up" ground when LBs vacate. One thing to keep in mind is that I looked at FSU's tape from 2010 before the Miami game. I saw a defense with relatively slow safeties and huge holes in their zone. That is not the defense that played Miami in 2010. FSU was aided by the fact Jacory Harris and Mark Whipple failed to test the middle of the field that day, but the snowball dynamic of the game made the defense look better. That is the type of situation Miami can hope for on Saturday. Without a few bounces in their direction (turnovers) and some inaccuracy from FSU's QB, it will be difficult for Miami to consistently stop FSU's weapons. Can it happen? I've seen crazier things occur. The likelihood, however, is that Miami will be forced to play red zone defense and claw out a victory.
 

DaU83

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i expect us to keep playing soft... i wish we could do what the steelers did to the pats.. tight man coverage and make accuracy king.. but i don't think we have the horses for that.


not to mention manuel would probably then eat us up with his feet.. there's no "right" way to get it done.. but it'd be nice if we threw a lot of different looks their way..
 
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MiamiVice7

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The run blitz thought is a good one.

We need to dictate, or at attempt to dictate, to the extent we can. This seemed to work during the GT game. Instead of sitting back and reacting, we appeared content to tee off and take our chances. Clearly (in Al Golden voice), GT is a different animal and we may get burned run blitzing F$U. But I'd rather take my chances and play aggressive ball than sit back and get picked apart trying to guess.

Let the dogs loose and let the chips fall.

I posted this in the other thread, but this goes to one of my biggest hopes for the D tomorrow - that our boys will man up and HIT. We need to be aggressive and match F$U's intensity. They play fast and hard on D, and we need to be prepared to do the same. Otherwise, I think we're in for a long game. We need to deliver the pain on D, not take it.

This, of course, is a concern for me b/c we have been pretty soft this year. A few guys like Denzel stand out, but mostly we are Charmin out there.

Again (Golden voice), gotta get tough tomorrow. For 4 quarters. Big time.
 

VinnDogg

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Funny thing is , the few times that D'onfrio has been creative and sent MgClost on corner blitzes,we have been beat. Don't know if they are tipping their hand early enough for the other team to audible or we are just uncannily unlucky. But as I said in the other post, we have to remove the true liablities from the D for this game. Futch brings nothing to the table. He can't cover, can't tackle, can't fill the gaps, can't diagnose the play and so on. What I suggested is bring Telemaque down to that rover back spot. JoJo and swasey or Highsmith saty deep. VT can tackle better and pursue better than Futch and bring better recognition for crossing routes,drag patterns and the like.

Put our best athletes out there. Not the guys with the most reps.
 

LuCane

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Funny thing is , the few times that D'onfrio has been creative and sent MgClost on corner blitzes,we have been beat. Don't know if they are tipping their hand early enough for the other team to audible or we are just uncannily unlucky. But as I said in the other post, we have to remove the true liablities from the D for this game. Futch brings nothing to the table. He can't cover, can't tackle, can't fill the gaps, can't diagnose the play and so on. What I suggested is bring Telemaque down to that rover back spot. JoJo and swasey or Highsmith saty deep. VT can tackle better and pursue better than Futch and bring better recognition for crossing routes,drag patterns and the like.

Put our best athletes out there. Not the guys with the most reps.
Virginia's OC was brutal to us. I still wonder if he had our campus and booth tapped. Some of those screen calls and hot routes were just too perfect.
 

AutoCANE

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Against KSU we played their spread with 4-3 personnel most of the time and we STILL couldn't stop the zone read option. We were playing 4 and 5 WR sets with 3 LB's to stop their run game, and we still couldn't do it. This is the scariest thought of all to me, because I agree with Lu that we're going to have to play nickel / dime packages with guys who are even less apt to tackling a ballcarrier in space.
 

BigCaneAl

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Funny thing is , the few times that D'onfrio has been creative and sent MgClost on corner blitzes,we have been beat. Don't know if they are tipping their hand early enough for the other team to audible or we are just uncannily unlucky. But as I said in the other post, we have to remove the true liablities from the D for this game. Futch brings nothing to the table. He can't cover, can't tackle, can't fill the gaps, can't diagnose the play and so on. What I suggested is bring Telemaque down to that rover back spot. JoJo and swasey or Highsmith saty deep. VT can tackle better and pursue better than Futch and bring better recognition for crossing routes,drag patterns and the like.

Put our best athletes out there. Not the guys with the most reps.
Virginia's OC was brutal to us. I still wonder if he had our campus and booth tapped. Some of those screen calls and hot routes were just too perfect.
It was the first time this year I felt we got out coached. It really seemed they had our D dialed in to perfection.
 
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