Miami vs Miami


In the game that has been dubbed as the “Confusion Bowl,” the real Miami stood up and revealed themselves to be the Miami Hurricanes from Coral Gables, FL. The fact that this was even a question up for debate was beyond absurd considering the vastly contrasting resumes of the football program of both schools. The real Miami has 5 national championships and were robbed of 3 others, case closed. The real Miami had produced countless NFL talents and hall of famers including all-time legendary names like Ed Reed, Warren Sapp, Jim Kelly, and Jimmy Johnson. The real Miami had three 30 for 30 documentaries made about them for their famous and infamous exploits on and off the gridiron.  The real Miami is based in paradise, not in the middle of nowhere Ohio. However, Brett Gabbert was baited into answering the question the way that he did by members of the media around him who kept pressing the issue until he bit down on the lead head hook. “We’ll show them on September 1st.” Got him! They got him. Truthfully, we had him right where we wanted him too.


The foolish pride that Gabbert displayed in the press conference was not displayed at any point during the game at Hard Rock Stadium on Friday night as Lance Guidry’s defensive unit proved to be a stubborn force all night. They refused to be moved. The defense was better than stubborn, they were downright dominant and while I believe that they were not motivated by Gabbert’s bulletin board material, I also believe there was a little bit of his comments in the back of their heads every time they came on a blitz or knocked down one of his passes. They refused to allow third down conversions. As Kamren Kinchens said, that team from Oxford, OH did not really have much going in the passing game to challenge the safeties on the back end, so Williams and Kinchens had to come up into the box and make some plays against the running game to make sure they got some good reps and broke a sweat.


Miami vs MAC vs Last Season

Miami of Ohio is widely considered to be one of the preseason front runners to win the Mid-American Conference (MAC) because last season they were a top 20 defense nationally against the run that held power 5 schools under 100 yards rushing and they were also an efficient offense nationally as well. As we all know, last year was last year and with a new season brings new talent and the chance to establish new narratives based on the quality of play. In other words, “what have you done for me lately?”

The Canes would answer that question emphatically by thanking the Miami Redhawks for deferring possession to the 2nd half after winning the coin toss and giving our offense the ball first with an energetic kick return from Brashard Smith, followed by some big runs by Henry Parrish Jr, and topped off by a tunnel screen that Colbie Young took to the house for the first touchdown of the year. The crowd was not heavy in numbers at that point due to the weather delay and the fact that many fans are still in wait and see mode at the moment, but man did that crowd make a lot of noise. We all felt it at the same time. We were so relieved by that one drive because it was a feeling we did not have in the entirety of last year. That touchdown score was absolutely cathartic after the poor offensive schematics and execution we were forced to witness last season. It was a thing of beauty to watch Matt Lee blocking out wide outside of the hashes to spring Colbie Young as he showed off his new improved speed and mobility as he cut through the Redhawk defense and flew away from all pursuers. It was lovely to watch the transformation of Anez Cooper as he pulled on play after play like the reincarnation of Larry Little.


Room for Improvement

There were some things that I saw and I loved about the game. There were some things that I saw that we will need to work on improving as well. So, it was not a perfect performance, but this Shannon Dawson offense is far more dynamic than the Josh Gattis scheme from last year. The scheme allows for quick passes to get the ball to Miami’s playmakers in space and is adjustable when defenses shade to those areas to take away our bread and butter. My greatest criticism of last season was the lack of in game adjustments when things were not working.

After the first drive of Friday night’s game, the Redhawks started showing 8-man fronts in the box. As a result, running up the middle became a war of attrition for much of the 2nd quarter. It was not working and we were settling for too many field goals after making entries into the Redhawks’ defensive red zone. You never want to be in the position where you are scoring field goals instead of touchdowns. That could get you into big trouble in closer games later in the season against better competition. The time to break that trend is now. Mario did not seem happy going into halftime and Dawson made the adjustment of running outside zone and counter instead of just continuing to try to pound the ball inside. Once the Redhawks softened up and played lighter boxes, the Canes went back to the inside. Football is not rocket science. The point is to get the ball to where there is space to maneuver and score points. Not to impose your will on the other team because you have a rigid coaching philosophy. The brightness and adaptability of the new offensive scheme for the Miami Hurricanes felt like a vast improvement over last season for sure.

The Hurricane running back room is legit. Henry Parrish ran hard and fast and made decisive cuts. Parrish looked confident and aggressive as he shook guys out of their boots. Ajay Allen ran hard and flashed potential home run hitting speed. Mark Fletcher looked very impressive as a true freshman and Don Chaney made the most of his carries as well. Miami rushed for more rushing yards (250) than passing yards (243). Parrish led the way with 9 carries for 90 yards and a score, while Fletcher looks like the future of this program and looks like what Thad Franklin was supposed to be. The Hurricanes have a great running back room and I can see why the coaches had such a hard time organizing the depth chart at that position. Miami will have to lean on that aspect of their offense as they sort out some of the kinks in their passing attack and rotating the backs while equally dividing the carries sounds like a good way to keep all of those guys engaged in the process.


Offensive Line Play

It has been a while since a green and orange offensive line unit had this much buzz in the offseason. The offensive line did not play a perfect game, but they certainly look much improved from last season. There were some leaks in the middle of the line and Mauigoa has some elements of his game to work on technique wise, but as a true freshman, Mauigoa definitely held up well. One concerning element was that during the parts of the game where Miami was struggling to run inside, the Canes were not creating the necessary push off the line of scrimmage necessary. This along with a few penalties led to some 3rd and interestings that caused the Canes to not convert on 3rd down as efficiently as they would have liked. The pass blocking was very much advanced and held up well. The fact that Tyler Van Dyke only took one hit all game was a testament to that fact. It will take that unit time to gel, but what they put on film on Friday was a great sight to see. The real test of our progress will be next week against the strong and athletic front 7 of Texas A&M. Miami will have some advantages that they can exploit but TAMU will be ready for us to try and knock them out early. The Aggies also look drastically improved offensively with Bobby Petrino coming in as their new offensive coordinator.


Winning Defense

The star of the show in the Confusion Bowl was definitely Miami’s defensive side of the ball. They were dominant from their first snap. Constantly harassing Gabbert with twists, stunts, and blitzes that got home a few times. Wesley Bissanthe recorded a very nice solo sack on a free run that came from a blitz that Guidry dialed up. This defense is fast and aggressive. It definitely reminds me of the defense that Manny Diaz ran when he was the defensive coordinator under Mark Richt. Likewise, the current Dawson Miami offense reminds me of Rhett Lashlee’s when he was in Miami. So far so good on the defense and the new coordinator hires for Cristobal.

Mario Cristobal made a mistake with his coordinator hires in his inaugural season, but I am glad that he was not stubborn with wanting to force his style of play on this team. Cristobal recognized the errors that he made and quickly addressed them. This team and this roster needs versatile coordinators that can adjust when the game plan is not working. This team needs coaches that can cook even if the ingredients are not all top shelf. You can’t try to serve me a steak made out of ground beef. It’s not going to work. Sure, we all want a bone-in ribeye with truffle butter sauce, but if all we have is 90% lean ground chuck and some tomato sauce, some bomb Meatball Marinara will work too. I am looking forward to hosting the Aggies at Hard Rock next week. This should be another fun measuring stick matchup. Go Canes!



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