THE DOWNLO WITH MIDLO>>>>>>>> Latest Downlo >>>Post game pressers.

Midlo Cane Fan

804 to 239 to 804
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Midlo Cane Fan

804 to 239 to 804
Joined
May 19, 2018
Messages
4,487
I really respect how particular Midlo and his thread’s content is. I really appreciate and enjoy coming to this thread and not being 10 pages behind because of useless filler, regurgitation of the obvious and newbies wanting and solely intending to read their musings on the internet.
That was the entire intent of this thread, because I was tired of the same things.
 

Midlo Cane Fan

804 to 239 to 804
Joined
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A six-pack of Miami Hurricanes notes on a Monday:

▪ When Manny Diaz sees that his team isn’t at Clemson’s level, is he tempted to replace under-performing players with talented freshmen, particularly at receiver? Diaz made clear he will always play who the staff believes gives the Hurricanes the best chance to win regardless of experience level.

The big question is whether Miami should take snaps from Dee Wiggins and Mark Pope — who continue to play the most among receivers along with Mike Harley Jr. — and give more work to five talented younger players. To this point, UM believes the three veterans are better equipped to help than the five younger guys.

But offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee suggested the veteran receivers are on notice. “We’ve got to win one-on-one battles. This is big-time college football,” Lashlee said. “We haven’t done a very good job of competing for contested catches down the field.”

Unlike Lashlee (who also blamed himself), Diaz wasn’t openly critical of the receivers. Asked if he’s tempted to give more playing time to the young receivers, Diaz said: “We are always inclined to play whoever we feel gives us the best chance to win. There is simply no seniority. That’s not how we make any decision on anyone on the depth chart. That’s how we started two true freshmen on the offensive line last year. That’s how we got here defensively in 2016; we started three true freshmen at linebacker. [Cornerback] Malek Young, [defensive end] Joe Jackson, all these guys started as true freshmen.

“We love our jobs and we love the University of Miami too much to not play the players we feel give us the best chance to win. The second part of that is we’re also in the player development business and all of these guys continue to be developed. Everyone sort of develops at a different level. And as time goes on and guys get more experienced, you’ll see more and more of our young class that we think is very special.”

On Saturday, Wiggins played 43 of Miami’s 59 offensive snaps, Harley Jr. 42, Pope 29, compared with 18 for Jeremiah Payton, 11 for freshman Keyshawn Smith, two for freshman Xavier Restrepo and none for freshmen Michael Redding and Daz Worsham.

How underwhelming has the receiver play been? Per Pro Football Focus, only five of the 16 passes thrown to receivers against Clemson were caught — for 83 yards, with 42 of those coming on Keyshawn Smith’s play long catch in the fourth quarter.

And this is pretty sobering: UM receivers this season have six dropped passes and a dismal 68.3 passer rating in their coverage area, with 41 receptions on 85 targets for 471 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback D’Eriq King obviously shares part of the blame, but UM’s receivers need to be better.

▪ Because of UM’s deplorable guard play against Clemson, the need for Navaughn Donaldson to return this season has risen dramatically. Per Pro Football Focus, guard Jakai Clark allowed three quarterback pressures against the Tigers. Clark also had a dismal 44.4 run blocking grade. Guard DJ Scaife also allowed three pressures and a sack and had a mediocre 66.2 run blocking grade.

UM radio analyst Don Bailey Jr. said on WQAM that Donaldson has looked impressive in working his way back from last year’s knee injury. Diaz has said he expects him to play at some point this season but hasn’t given a timetable.

Center Corey Gaynor graded out well but the tackle play (John Campbell, Jarrid Williams) was substandard, though Williams received good marks in pass protection.

I’m not sure how high the ceiling is with these five, but they must show more than they did against Clemson, because Saturday’s opponent, Pittsburgh, ranks fourth in the country in tackles for loss at 10.4 per game and third in the country in sacks at 4.8 per game. In their defense, the five starting offensive linemen weren’t responsible for a sack in any of Miami’s first three games. So perhaps they’ll be good enough this season against non-Top 15 caliber competition.

▪ Diaz needs to start lifting players from games (at least for a series) as punishment for pre-snap penalties — discipline that he seems resistant to administer. Four of Miami’s 15 penalties on Saturday were for false starts - two by Clark, one by Williams and one by receiver Mike Harley. Jalen Harrell lined up offsides on a punt.

Quincy Roche, Bubba Bolden and Larry Hodges were called for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, which should never happen. Amari Carter and Keontra Smith were ejected for targeting, a persistent problem in the program and one that’s puzzling because Diaz and his coaches spend a lot of time coaching tackling and are sticklers about it. Cornerback Al Blades Jr. was called for holding.

▪ The Hurricanes missed 14 tackles and 273 of Clemson’s 302 receiving yards came after the catch while 190 of their 262 rushing yards came after contact. Pro Football Focus gave UM’s three-worst defensive grades to linebackers Bradley Jennings Jr. (47 snaps), Waymon Steed (13 snaps) and Zach McCloud (63 snaps).

Defensive coordinator Blake Baker conceded that linebacker play Saturday was “a mixed back. Zach and BJ [Jennings] were up and down. We need more consistency at that position.”

Though Baker didn’t specifically say this, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see increased snaps for Sam Brooks (36 snaps on Saturday) and Corey Flagg Jr. (30). Brooks would be playing more if not for a foot injury, Diaz said. Diaz said Flagg is “so instinctive, has a great feel” for the game. Baker said Flagg was “outstanding” against Clemson.

While Flagg is getting defensive snaps, fellow freshman linebacker Tirek Austin-Cave played only on special teams against Clemson and has done “an outstanding job” in that area, Baker said.

Incidentally, defensive end Roche and striker Gilbert Frierson received PFF’s highest UM defensive grades for Saturday’s game.

▪ The running back snaps were allocated this way: 44 to Cam’Ron Harris, 10 to Don Chaney Jr. and 8 to Jaylon Knighton. Aside from King’s 84 yards rushing on 18 carries and N’Kosi Perry losing six yards on one carry, the Canes rushed for 11 yards on 10 other runs. Harris had 8 carries for 3 yards, Chaney 1 for 8 and Knighton 1 for zero yards.

Lashlee said Harris “could have banged in there and got a few extra yards” — and his two best runs were called back due to penalty — but said generally “they whipped us” and Harris nearly maximized what was available with the lack of running lanes.

Lashlee said he’s comfortable with the snap allocation with his top three backs. He said the goal “was to get all three guys more carries” Saturday, but UM’s inability to sustain drives prevented that from happening.

▪ Other notable snap count decisions from Saturday: Jahfari Harvey (23 snaps) and Cameron Williams (22) are virtually co-No. 3 defensive ends behind Roche and Jaelen Phillips. Patrick Joyner Jr. didn’t get a snap on defense. “I really think he should get in there a little bit more,” Baker said...UM played only three cornerbacks: Blades (86), Ivey (72) and T’Cory Couch (40)... Safety Bubba Bolden logged a mind-boggling 88 snaps.
 

Midlo Cane Fan

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A six-pack of Miami Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday:

▪ Among the many things that have caused problems for the Hurricanes in recent years: Responding after a demoralizing loss and playing against a team with more experience and older players. Both come into play Saturday against Pittsburgh, and it will be interesting to see how Miami responds.

In recent years the Hurricanes have had a history of unraveling after several particularly frustrating losses. Last year’s embarrassing loss to FIU was followed by uninspired defeats to Duke and Louisiana Tech, with Miami looking like a team that lost interest after the humiliation of losing to a non-Power 5 South Florida school.
The 2018 loss at Virginia was followed by three more defeats.

The first loss of the season in 2017 — in the regular-season finale at Pitt — was followed by losses to Clemson (understandable) and Wisconsin to close the season. So will this Hurricanes team (3-1) also collapse after being drubbed by Clemson on national TV?

“Last year’s team was a different team than this team,” coach Manny Diaz said immediately after Saturday’s game. “The guys in the locker room want to be together. There was no negativity during the game, at halftime. We wear the same uniform [as last year’s team] but we’re not those guys.”

But Diaz was more circumspect about the issue on Joe Rose’s WQAM show on Monday, saying this: “Well we feel we’re more mature, but ultimately we have to go prove it, right? Whatever we say doesn’t really matter. The issue will be what happens next Saturday.”

On this topic of the team rebounding from losses, cornerback Al Blades Jr. told WQAM’s Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr.: “We’re the 2020 Miami Hurricanes. We can appreciate and respect the past. The feel for this team is different. We know who we are.”

Though any discussion of this “age” issue angers some fans who believe it’s an excuse, UM officials genuinely believe that the age and experience disparity between players contributed to several exasperating losses in recent years, including games against Wisconsin, Virginia, Boston College and Duke.

The Hurricanes have not had as old or experienced a roster as the aforementioned teams — and some others — because too many of their players transfer or turn pro early, even though the early entrants often end up on NFL practice squads or buried on an NFL bench as rookies or unemployed (in the case of Trajan Bandy and Jeff Thomas this year).

Why does UM believe this age dynamic has been an issue? Some of these teams have more physically mature, bigger offensive and defensive linemen that wear down Canes’ linemen. They also have knowledge gleaned from experience, which is difficult to measure tangibly but certainly helps. UM people believe this contributed to some of these losses, whether fans scoff at that notion or not.

The age/experience factor is such an issue to UM that Diaz raised it on Hurricane Hotline and in discussions with his players.

“They’re old,” Diaz said of Pittsburgh. “They have a very old team. The quarterback [Kenny Pickett] is a fourth-year junior. Pat Narduzzi’s team this year is filled with fourth- and fifth-year seniors. They’ve got a very experienced offensive line. Any time you’ve got a fourth-year quarterback [it helps]. Their defensive ends and safeties are better than Clemson’s ends and safeties. They’re going to dare you to throw it. It’s going to be an immense challenge.”

The age and experience issue carries such weight with Diaz that Blades volunteered this stat on Hurricane Hotline this week:

“Pitt has 30 guys on the team [that have been on their team] for four years; they’re a mature team that has been in college a long time. We have 11 guys on the team for four years.”

You can bet that coaches told Blades that statistic, as opposed to Blades spending hours on a google search researching such matters. UM, incidentally, beat Pittsburgh 24-3 in 2018 and 16-12 last season.

▪ Defensive end Patrick Joyner Jr isn’t the only returning UM defender who didn’t get any defensive snaps against Clemson.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Avery Huff — considered talented but raw — also didn’t get any defensive snaps against the Tigers, though special teams coach Jon Patke praised his work on special teams.

I asked Diaz what Huff can do to earn defensive snaps. “Avery has to continue to learn the ins and outs of the defense,” Diaz said. “Not having those reps [in spring ball and during a shortened training camp], those are reps Avery Huff needed, understanding all the run fits and all the assignments. He’s learning that and gaining more confidence.”

At linebacker, Zach McCloud, Bradley Jennings Jr., Sam Brooks, Corey Flagg Jr. and Ryan Ragone are all getting defensive snaps ahead of Huff and freshman Tirek Austin-Cave.

And for now, Jahfari Harvey and Cameron Williams are ahead of Joyner as the top backup defensive ends.

▪ Because COVID-19 wiped out most of spring practice, Diaz said on Hurricane Hotline that it “really hurt the development” of some freshmen.

“Guys like [linebacker] Corey Flagg and [safety] Brian Balom — guys who are very instinctive, very mature and have an ability to learn things quickly — are the ones that get on the field,” Diaz said.

During his 43 defensive snaps Saturday, Balom “on some coverages had his eyes in the wrong place. But in terms of running around and tackling, he didn’t look out of place,” Diaz said.

▪ Couple notable things from the Miami Herald’s UM metrics correspondent, Daniel Gould:

He said that D’Eriq King has completed only 44.3 percent of passes to wide receivers on balls thrown beyond the line of scrimmage. By comparison, tight end Brevin Jordan (who is questionable for the Pittsburgh game) has caught 9 of 10 such throws (for 150 yards) out of the slot. That reinforces the notion that the wide receiver play has been substandard, though King’s downfield accuracy certainly could improve....

Beyond their difficulties in run defense, linebackers McCloud and Jennings Jr. struggled in pass coverage. Clemson completed three of four passes for 34 yards and two touchdowns with McCloud in coverage. Against Jennings, the Tigers completed both passes thrown for 32 yards…

Cornerback DJ Ivey has rebounded well after a tough start. All four of Trevor Lawrence’s passes in Ivey’s coverage area were incomplete on Saturday, with Ivey breaking up two of them.

▪ Diaz said the team watched all 15 of its penalties against Clemson on video as a group in the past few days. “Our guys know how much they hurt us,” he said.

Blades put it this way with Zagacki and Bailey: “We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and know this is unacceptable. We’ve got to become disciplined. We can’t blame anyone for our own mistakes.” As discipline, players were forced to run after practice on Wednesday.

▪ Kudos to UM coaches and players for keeping COVID-19 under control; they have had only a handful of cases on the football team during the past four months, from my understanding. (UM doesn’t announce positive cases.)

Diaz said he has not ordered his players to stay out of restaurants or sports bars but has implored them to do everything needed to protect themselves, starting with wearing masks.

“We have not given strict parameters [such as] don’t go to a restaurant,” Diaz said. What he has told them is: “Anybody you are in close contact with, you are bringing into our bubble and our team.”

Diaz said: “We’ve heard players talk about [staying more] in dorms and ‘I’m trying to keep my bubble small.’ They’re not locking themselves in their room [but] they’re finding a way to manage. There’s a way to manage without being in a lockdown. I don’t want to ever talk like we got it sorted out, because the second we do, [something bad could happen]. We don’t ever think we’ve got it solved.”
 
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