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Breaking Down the 2012 Defense, Part 1 of a Novel By Esteban

The Miami Hurricane Efense.  Coached by Mark OH-NO!-frio…I don’t know if I can do this article.  Since Al Golden defended his best bud on the radio I’ve first went through denial about his return next year to just wanting to erase part of my memory – all non-offensive or special team plays from the past two seasons.  All the memories are flooding back – especially from this year.  Some of those memories are in the form of numbers.  117.  53.  13.  8.  88.  To share what the numbers mean let’s see:

  • 117 – That’s what we ranked in Total Defense this year.
  • 53 – That’s the number of Tackles for Loss on the season, which put us at 103rd in the nation (for comparison sake we led the nation in 2010 with 115).
  • 13 – That’s the record low amount of sacks we had this year.
  • 8 – The number of times we gave up 30 this year including 41 to Virginia who averaged just under 23 on the season.
  • 88 – Red Zone defense ranking – it’s supposed to be Bend but DON’T Break right?

And those are just the numbers that didn’t remain blocked out by my brain that wants to develop a short term memory loss issue after typing that out.  But let’s just go piece by piece into the disaster of an Efense.

Scheme.

It’s MULTIPLE!  That’s a good thing right?  More versatile since using both 3-4 and 4-3 looks and ideally with the same players so you can switch things up on the offense and make it a tougher read for the opposing teams QB – good illustration would be found here http://sbn.to/fUw3uK.  That’s about as multiple as you can get, some NFL stuff.  No one expected multiplicity to that extent, but we found out our Multiple scheme was multiplying times zero.  We couldn’t do good from a 4-3 look. We couldn’t do good from a 3-4 look.  A big part of that is what we were asking our players to do within both alignments.

OLBs covering Slot WRs – and at times starting WRs.

This gets listed first cause it’s the number one immediate disadvantage given up by OH-NO!-frio’s defense each week.  Any team with a half decent offensive coordinator will take easy first downs.  Passes to the slot WR all year was that easy first down.  Some teams took a while to take advantage of it and others, like Notre Dame, went after it almost immediately.  Just was pitch and catch.  College safeties are hardly ever asked to cover slot WRs.  A number of college starting CBs don’t feel comfortable covering WRs out of the slot.  It’s not an easy cover.  Yet despite all of that we have OLBs way out by the hashmarks trying to cover opposing slot WRs.  The thought process is that you keep the base efense out there and you should be tougher against the run.  But if that LB is by the hashmarks he’s not going to be involved in the run efense.  So he can’t help vs the run and he can’t help vs the pass since he’s THE mismatch on the field trying lined up over the slot.

No win situation if there ever was one.  And I thought that was as bad as it could get.  That’s when opposing offenses went twin WR sets and instead of putting our 2nd CB on that starting WR lined up on the inside we put our OLB over him.  Devil’s advocate, or in this case an excuse maker, could say ‘well we’re going zone so he’ll just cover him underneath and the safety will be over the top’.  And he’d have a point.  Problem is if that OLB is covering the WR who’s lined up where the OLB normally would be?   You got it…a CB.  So when predictably the offense audibles to a run play in the direction of that CB, he’s stuck taking on a TE, O-lineman, or a FB.  All are mismatches and again its easy first downs without even having to throw the ball.  Just hand it off and run at the CB playing OLB against a base personnel offense.

I CAN’T TAKE ANOTHER YEAR OF THIS MAN AS OUR EFENSIVE COORDINATOR!!!

Sorry…Well again the devil’s advocate might say ‘well he can just bring a safety down to help against the run’.  Well devil’s advocate then that starting WR who’s covered short by the LB and deep by the Safety runs a deep post against that Safety for a TD.  Or if nothing else a deep crossing route and picks up 20 yards or so.  Pick your poison.

The Forward Pass in Overall.

Any team that could throw the ball forward and the WRs didn’t experience a case of drops (looking at you North Carolina WRs) could put up points against us.  Even Georgia Tech started scoring once they went into the Pistol formation and started throwing the ball. They only completed 3 passes the whole game yet after that first completion (a 57 yarder) our CBs had to actually pay attention to the WRs and not just immediately fly up to tackle the pitch man as part of the option.  Once the defense had to be honest Georgia Tech put up 36 points in 3 Quarters (GT didn’t throw a pass in the first quarter).  We made for career days when it came to opposing QBs (and offenses overall).  Mike Rocco, a very mediocre QB, has one game in his career where he threw for over two TDs.

I bet you can guess who that came against.  He had 4 against us with 300 yards passing, the only other team that gave up 300 yards passing to him this year was Richmond (which was the only other game UVA scored more than 40 in).  Chase Rettig, of BC, had nearly 100 yards more against us than he had against anyone else this year (441 yards).  Over 400 to Mike Glennon, but at least he went over 400 a couple other times.  Then there was the 77% completion percentage on 22 passes to ND’s Everett Golson – he’s not a bad QB but his average was just under 59%.  Duke’s Sean Renfree threw for 432 yards against us and his next highest total was 314 against Memphis (4 TDs against us tied his 4 against that same Memphis team).

There were QBs all around the country sad to see us self-impose a bowl ban because they weren’t going to have a chance to be matched up against our passing defense and therefore go out with a bang.  People say ‘well we started A.J. Highsmith and Kacy Rodgers at safety, of course the pass defense sucked’.  And they’re right in that those two aren’t very good.  But we had a Safety sitting on the bench who started on a defense that featured the #1 passing efficiency unit in the country to years ago.  And while I never have been a big fan cause his tackling wasn’t great, Vaughn Telemaque’s tackling was better than Rodgers’ tackling.  His angles and coverage were better than Highsmith’s.  And the main reason our former HC loved him was cause he was always where he was supposed to be – even if he didn’t make a big play he didn’t give them up either.  He’s a Senior and had about 3 years of starting experience under his belt and when he did get in the game showed he was clearly better than Rodgers and Highsmith.  Would he transform the pass efense into a top notch unit?  No, not at all.  But he’d help it be better than what it was.

Starting Ladarius Gunter earlier in the season would have helped somewhat as well – can’t say a ton because we still were bad against the pass after he took over but he clearly was the 2nd best CB on the team to Brandon McGee.  Although, the who didn’t make as much as difference when it came to players because they were all playing in a scheme that even if they were doing their jobs still had a LB covering a slot WR and therefore the secondary would look bad when it was that OLB getting beat.  Or because that mismatch was there and OH-NO-frio was trying to compensate for that mismatch by having guys play a soft zone so they could easily help if needed against that slot WR.

Basically, the whole coverage scheme was already compromised because of a simple scheme decision that never changed.  Shoot, we even used the base 4-3 look against teams that had 4 WR sets out there.  Yes, a pass rush would have been helpful.   But coming into the season it was obvious we’d have to manufacture a pass rush.  That’s where the multiple looks were supposed to help, but we normally were pretty obvious as to who was rushing and who was dropping into coverage.  Also, the personnel groupings in our Nickel package along the line was usually head scratch worthy. Shayon Green generates zero pass rush using mostly a bull rush against OTs and he’s playing DT in obvious passing situations so he can try a bull rush against OGs?  He hasn’t been explosive for two surgeries now so thinking he could use his quickness on the interior doesn’t even apply.  We had him in and Luther Robinson, one of the only players on the line who ever generated a rush, on the sideline most of the time in Nickel situations.  Oh I do remember one well-disguised coverage.  It was Curtis Porter dropping into coverage to pick up Virginia’s Perry Jones (all 195 lbs of him) about 4 times in that game.  Here we finally got back our only lineman who consistently could get penetration against the run or pass and demand a double team because of it, but we don’t advantage of that. Instead, OH-NO-frio decides to have him drop and cover a scat back.  The game winning TD throw by Rocco…no Porter trying to disrupt the pocket because he was too busy dropping to cover the RB in the flat.

OH-NO!-frio IS A DAMN GENIUS!

Overall Overall the Efense sucked.

As bad as the efense was against the pass with much effort the rush efense was pretty lousy as well.  Duke still had a good 40 yards more than there average rushing even with their QB being over 100 yards over his high passing.  NC State had 664 total yards.  Their QB threw for over 400 yards AND they ran for over 200 as well. Kansas State had their 2nd string QB in and still scored 2 more TDs.  Overall they threw the ball twice in the 4th quarter and scored 21 points.  But the scoring really wasn’t surprising.  We had Deon Bush lined up 14 yards off the ball at the snap and after the snap he immediately dropped into deep center field coverage.  This was in the 4th quarter while K-State had their 3rd string QB in and they hadn’t run thrown the ball since Colin Klein was still in the game.  Their coach had clearly showed he was simply going to just run every play til the end of the game yet we still were dropping a safety into deep coverage?  Even FSU only completed two passes in the 4th quarter yet scored 17 points – yes a turnover on downs factored in but 10 points with two passes isn’t great either.  Could discuss the fact that we have our DEs lined up directly over the OTs most of the time.

Expectations are that they’ll stand them up and then shed their blocks to make the tackle.  But then we look at their size and you have to ask if that’s a realistic expectation.  Chick is 260 at the most.  Shayon Green is listed as 260 but he’s 6’2 and lacks explosion.  Neither Chick or Green lacks hustle or energy, but both just lack size and to compound things Chick had arm issues in the off season so was limited in the weight room.  Asking smaller DEs to go head up on OTs would appear to be unwise and that was pretty much correct all year.  FSU, ND and NC State went off tackle a ton with plenty of success.  UNC did, too, but remember we not only had our smallish DEs head up on OTs we also had a CB lined up where an OLB should have been so we were even more trouble than normal there.  Just think this should be pointed out.  Most teams that feature smaller, heavy on the hustle DEs play to that by having them get upfield on the snap so if nothing else they turn run plays inside to where the help should be coming from their teammates.  But as has been clear for two years OH-NO-frio is short bus special so we do things differently.  It’s beating a dead horse, but this dead horse was supposed to be improved in Year 2 especially with having returning starters and reserves who played a bit returning as well.

Stay tuned for Part 2, the conlusion of Esteban’s gripping novel breaking down the 2012 defense.

Esteban’s Break it Down: Miami vs. Duke

Wecome back to another text edition of Break It Down. This week I’ll break down The U’s match up versus the Duke Blue Devils.

Why The U Wins

Stephen Morris and the Canes offense, when in sync, can put up a lot of points and do it fast. The last two weeks they combined for over 70. That’s usually enough to put your team in a good position to win.

Why The U Needs to be Careful

Duke can throw the ball. Any team that can throw the forward pass has a good chance of putting up points against our defense. Sean Renfree isn’t a super athlete, but he does have good enough mobility to buy himself extra time in finding WRs down the field.

Key Individual Match up

I’ll go with the self-imposed bowl ban versus focus. Last year, the announcement came just before the BC game and you could tell guys were either trying to go out with a bang (and thus, trying to do too much), or they just weren’t there mentally. Changing the game from being the lead into the ACC Championship game to the last game of a season again with no bowl trip has to be deflating. Hopefully, that was out their systems by mid-week and guys can bring their A game on Saturday.

Player of the Game

I’ll go with Duke Johnson – yes, the safe bet. He’s been great this year and hopefully this has just been the tip of the iceberg. I see Johnson getting a TD run, return and catch this week.

Once again, this has been another Break It Down. Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all Canes fans.

mike james duke run

Miami vs. Duke Preview

~ The following article was contributed by beloved Eye of the Hurricane blogger, Delray ~

This week the Miami Hurricanes conclude their 2012 season and will again try eclipse last season’s 6-6 mark with a win at Duke … a tough place to play.  The Blue Devils, not particularly known for having a strong football team, are bowl eligible for the first time in a long time.  They have done it with some good veteran leadership and solid play.  Let’s take a look at the Blue Devils, who will be Miami’s opponent on Saturday with a 12:30 kick-off time on the ACC Network.

OFFENSE

Quarterback

19 Sean Renfree | 6-5, 230, SR

Sean has become one of the most prolific passers in Duke’s history. This year Sean has converted 224 of 333 passes for a 67.3% accuracy rating.  He has thrown 14 touchdowns with 8 interceptions to go with his 2,323 yards.  He is not a threat to run as he has amassed only 88 yards on 33 carries.

Running Backs

25 Jela Duncan| 5-10, 200, Fr

Jela has set himself up as the premier back for the Blue Devils as a Freshman.  He will do most of the rushing and has rushed 93 times for 466 yards for a 5 yard average with 4 touchdowns.

Wide Receivers

3  Jamison Crowder | 5-9, 175 Soph

2 Conner Vernon | 6-1, 195, SR

33 Desmond Scott | 5-9, 190, SR

Make no mistake about it, when you play Duke, they will pass the ball.  Sean Renfree’s main target will be Conner Vernon on Saturday.  They are both seniors and this will be there swan song.  Vernon has set many Duke and ACC records for receiving.   This year he has 64 catches for 846 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Jamison Crowder has chipped in nicely as well with 62 receptions for 822 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Tight End

17 Isaac Blakeney | 6-6 235  Soph.

Isaac has 25 receptions for a 9 yard average.  He has scored 1 touchdown this year.

Offensive Line

79 Kyle Hill | 6-6, 290, 2V

72 Perry Simmons | 6-5, 305, JR

55 Brandon Harper | 6-2, 315, 3V

68 Brian Moore | 6-2, 285, SR

62 Bryan Morgan | 6-3, 260, 3V

The offensive line is mostly there to protect QB Sean Renfree.  Duke does not run nearly as often as other teams.  They have allowed only 18 sacks and have allowed their RB’s to rush for 1,500 yards.

Defense

Nose Tackle

93 Charlie Hatcher | 6-3, 300, 2V

Defensive Ends

90 Patrick Egboh | 6-4, 250, 3V

99 Wesley Oglesby | 6-5, 255, 3V

Linebackers

56 Damian Thornton | 6-2, 240, 3V

8 Abraham Kromah | 6-1, 225, 3V

50 Tyree Glover | 6-1, 255, 1V

39 Adam Banks | 6-4, 230, 3V

Corner Backs

6 Ross Cockrell | 6-0, 180, JR

16 Chris Rwabukamba | 5-11, 180, 3V

Safeties

20 Lee Butler | 5-11, 185, SR

40 Matt Daniels | 6-1, 205, 2V

Duke plays a 3-4 defensive scheme.  They have allowed 2,150 (196 per game) yards rushing 2,749 (250 per game) yards passing and an average of 33.5 points per game.  They have combined for 10 interceptions this year with Ross Cockrell accounting for half of them with 5.  They have 21 sacks lead by Kenny Anunike with 5 and Dezmond Johnson with 3.  They have allowed 43 touchdowns this year with 22 through the air and 21 on the ground.  They will give up about 15 yards per completion and 4.7 per rush.

Special Teams

Kicker: Ross Martin

So far this year Ross has been extremely accurate having converted 17 of 19 field goal tries.  His longest of the season is 50 yards.  He is a perfect 38 for 38 on extra points.

Punter: Will Monday

Will is averaging 44 yards per punt but has put 18 of his 44 punts inside the 20.

Punt Returns:  Lee Butler

Lee has returned 11 punts for 187 yards.  That would equate to just over 17 yards per return.  1 of those returns for 65 yards, went for a touchdown.

Kick Returns: Lee Butler

Lee also handles the kick returns averaging just over 20 yards per return on 17 chances.

Well this is it.  The final game of the season for the 2012 Hurricanes.  Hopefully they come out with a chip on their shoulder and don’t wilt away as the team last year did after the self-imposed ban was announced.  I think this team has a bit more pride than that.  Granted it will be Duke’s final home game and final home game for a lot of the seniors.  With that said, Duke should come out hungry.  They do not have a great defense (not that we should be pointing fingers) so let’s look for a shoot out.  Hopefully the Canes will have enough bullets to keep up the pace.

Go Canez!

~Delray

Miami v South Florida

Miami vs. South Florida Preview

~ The following article was contributed by esteemed Eye of the Hurricane blogger, Delray ~

OK, what we need to do is just shake off last week and look to this week.  This week at 3:00pm at Sun Life Stadium the Miami Hurricanes take on their cross state rivals, the University of South Florida Bulls.  Miami has had some difficulties with the Bulls the last few years, having lost here in Miami in overtime 2 years ago, and having escaped Tampa last year with a 6-3 win.  Although the Bulls are not in the ACC, bowl eligibility is at stake for the Hurricanes.  Let’s take a look at the Bulls…

OFFENSE

Quarterback

11 Matt Floyd 6-1 206 RFr.

After losing starting quarterback B.J. Daniels for the season due to a broken leg, Matt has had to step in.  So far he is 4 of 10 for 22 yards.  He is kind of a wild card here as we really don’t know much about this kid.  He could have a banner day against our defense, or we could force them into using Bobby Eveld.

Running Back

21 Demetris Murray 6-0 215 RSr.

89 Jeff Hawkins 6-4 266 RSr

Demetris leads the team in rushing, after Daniels, with 476 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Hawkins, the full back will not see the ball, but look for Lindsey Lamar to rotate with Demetris.  Lamar can also be dangerous out of the backfield as he has 12 catches for 156 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Wide Receivers

10 Terrence Mitchell 5-10 164 Jr.

81 Andre Davis 6-1 207 So.

Davis is the go-to man having caught 38 passes for 478 yards.  Mitchell has amassed 368 yards on 26 catches.

Tight End

12 Sean Price 6-3 240 Fr.

Price has 9 catches on the year for 114 yards and 1 touchdown.  He will primarily be used as a blocker.

Offensive Line

76 Darrell Williams 6-5 292 So.

64 Thor Jozwiak 6-4 307 RFr.

78 Austin Reiter 6-3 286 RSo.

66 Brynjar Gudmundsson 6-4 304 RFr.

70 Quinterrius Eatmon 6-6 301 RSo.

How cool is it to have a guy blocking for you named Thor?  That’s awesome.  That has got to register a bit on the intimidation scale if you ask me.  Anyway, Thor and his pals have given up 14 sacks on the year so far.  Daniels was tough to sack because of his illusiveness and his speed.  Not sure if the back ups are as quick as he is.

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

91 Eric Lee 6-3 240 Fr.

92 Luke Sager 6-3 297 RJr.

46 Cory Grissom 6-2 316 RSr.

99 Tevin Mims 6-3 245 Jr.

The defensive line has accounted for 92 tackles, 12.5 for loss and 17 sacks.          

Linebackers

16 Reshard Cliett 6-2 223 RSo.

34 DeDe Lattimore 6-1 232 RJr.

36 Sam Barrington 6-1 230 Sr.

Combined this unit has 147 tackles, with Lattimore leading the way with 60.  They have contributed with 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.  Lattimore also has 2 blocked kicks.  

Secondary

6 Kayvon Webster 5-11 198 Sr.

3 JaQuez Jenkins 6-2 188 RJr.

26 Mark Joyce 5-10 200 Jr.

22 George Baker 5-11 180 RSr.

The secondary is the most experienced position group for the Bulls.  They have produced 2 interceptions while Webster and Joyce are among the team leaders in tackles with 62 and 55 respectively.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Punter

18 Justin Brockhaus-Kann 6-2 214 RSr.

Justin is averaging 41 yards per punt with his 37 punts.  16 of them have gone inside the 20.

Kicker

28 Maikon Bonani 5-10 176 RSr.

Maikon has a decent leg and is 13-15 including a 50 yarder last week against UConn.

Kick-off Returns

20 Marcus Shaw 5-9 189 Jr.

Marcus is listed as the starter for this position but it is more of a return by committee.  The Bulls are averaging just over 15 yards per return.  This could be an area that Miami can gain some momentum as they have excelled in kickoff coverage.

Punt Returns

10 Terrence Mitchell 5-10 164 Jr.

Mitchell has returned 7 punts for almost a 12 yard average.  He can be dangerous, so Miami has to be vigilant of him.

This game should be won by Miami, although it will not be an easy task.  South Florida has a young team but always seems to play Miami tough as there are a lot of bragging rights at stake.  Miami needs to get on top early and bring the hammer down on defense.  Early reports are we may have 2 of the 3 starters back that missed the Virginia game last week.  That will definitely help.

Go Canes!

Miami vs. Virginia Preview

~ The following article was contributed by beloved Eye of the Hurricane blogger, Delray ~

This week at high noon on ABC, our beloved Miami Hurricanes take on the Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Virginia.  At stake is a possible bowl birth and a tighter grip on our first Costal Division championship.  Virginia has not been playing well as of late.  In fact, they had not won an ACC game up until last week when, out of nowhere, they destroyed the Wolfpack of NC State, 33-6.  Is it possible that the Cavs have turned a corner this season? They are a young team just as we are.  Let’s take a look at their starters.

OFFENSE

Quarterback

14 Phillip Sims | 6-2, 215, RS SO

The Cavs have gone with a 2-quarterback rotation for the year.  They will start Philip Sims which may bring a smile to most Canes fans after the way Michael Rocco lit us up last year.  So far Philip is 92 for 165 for a 56% completion rating.  He has thrown 8 touchdowns to 4 interceptions.  Not much of a threat to run but a QBR of 123.7 is nothing to scoff at.

Running Back

33 Perry Jones | 5-8, 185, SR

49 Zachary Swanson | 6-6, 235, RS SO

Zach is the fullback who opens the holes for Perry.  So far this season Perry has 389 yards rushing on 104 carries.  He is projected well short of last year’s numbers of 915 yards.  He has 2 touchdowns with a 3.7 yard average.  He is a threat out of the backfield with 34 receptions for 304 yards.  Also look for Kevin Parks to come in off the bench.  He is not listed as the starter but has over 600 yards rushing with 4 touchdowns.

Wide Receivers

6 Darius Jennings | 5-11, 165, SO

20 Tim Smith | 6-0, 185, RS JR

Jennings is the go-to guy of the group 464 yards on 35 catches. Smith has contributed with 13 receptions for 261 yards, just over 20 yards a reception.  Also watch for E.J. Scott who has 24 receptions for 352 yards

Tight End

88 Paul Freedman | 6-6, 260, SR

Paul will not excite you with his pass catching abilities.  He is primarily a blocking tight end.  Watch for Jake McGee as he has 20 receptions for almost 300 yards and leads the team with 4 touchdowns.

Offensive Line

72 Oday Aboushi | 6-6, 310, SR

78 Morgan Moses | 6-6, 325, JR

74 Conner Davis | 6-5, 305, RS SO

79 Sean Cascarano | 6-6, 280, JR

70 Luke Bowanko | 6-6, 295, RS JR

The Virginia offensive line has given up 17 sacks in 9 games and have allowed their backs to rush for 1,273 yards.

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

90 Jake Snyder | 6-4, 275, RS JR

7 Eli Harold | 6-4, 230, FR

99 Brent Urban | 6-7, 280, RS JR

93 Will Hill | 6-4, 280, SR

The defensive line has accounted for 93 tackles, 14 for loss and 5.5 sacks.                        

Linebackers

9 LaRoy Reynolds | 6-2, 230, SR

13 Daquan Romero | 6-1, 230, SO

53 Steve Greer | 6-2, 225, RS SR

The linebackers for UVA are the meat and potatoes of the defense.  They are the most veteran group of the team.  Combined they have 160 tackles with Greer leading the way with 82.  They have contributed with 11 tackles for loss and 4 sacks.

Secondary

1 D. Nicholson | 5-11, 165, SO

22 Drequan Hoskey | 6-0, 175, RS SO

21 Brandon Phelps | 6-0, 175, SO

8 Anthony Harris | 6-1, 180, SO

The secondary has produced 4 interceptions while Nicholson and Harris are among the team leaders in tackles.                       

SPECIAL TEAMS

Punter

30 Alec Vozenilek | 5-10, 185, RS SO

Alec has 49 punts and is averaging 42 yards a try. 17 of those punts have ended up inside the 20

Kicker

11 Drew Jarrett | 6-0, 185, RS JR

Drew is not deadly accurate having connected on 6 of his 10 field goal attempts.  He does have a long of 46 but is 5 for 9 outside of 29 yards.

Returns

23 Khalek Shepherd  5-8, 185 SO

Khalek handles the kickoff and punt returns.  He has returned 19 punts for 62 yards while his 29 kickoff returns have gotten back about 22 yards each.

This game is a tough call.  You never know which Virginia team will show up: the team that lost to Georgia Tech 56-20 or the team that destroyed NC State last week 33-6.  Miami must do more of what they did last week against VT.  Don’t turn the ball over and force turnovers.  Somehow the Canes are a 2 point underdog, but I like our chances.  Look for the Canes to gain bowl eligibility in a high scoring game.  As I mentioned, the Cavs are a young team just as we are.  It may not be a pretty game but I think Miami’s overall athleticism will give them the edge.

Go Canes!

Esteban’s Break it Down: Miami vs. Virginia Tech

Welcome back to another text version of Break It Down.  I’m your author, Esteban.  Yes, the Esteban from such cult classics as It’s Now A, B, C, E... and still my best seller to date 1mo4randy: The Unauthorized Biography of the Canes Most Underrated Head Coach Randy Shannon.  So yes, that blessed feeling you have right now is warranted.  But lets get to the game.  This week the U takes on them Virginia Tech Hokies.  Lets get right into things.

Why The U Wins

Thankfully for the Canes, Virginia Tech is having a down year.  They’ve shown they can be passed on, run on and can’t do either themselves at an exceptional level.  As long as Offensive Coordinator Jedd Fisch maintains a semblance of balance in his play calling, the Canes should be able to put up at least 30 on Tech.  Stephen Morris has shown he’s capable of hitting the big play down the field as well as hitting a lot of underneath routes.  The Hokies will likely go zero coverage at least a few times and that’s when I expect to see Morris take advantage and get some quick points for the Canes.

Why the U Needs to be Careful

Virginia Tech’s OC is on the hot seat again for a reason.  But even he shouldn’t have a hard time recognizing that the Canes defense is even worse against the run than they are against the pass.  I could see Logan Thomas running the read option play against us more this week than he has all season.  And could see Tech having one of their best rushing games of the season because of it.  I don’t think Thomas will duplicate his passing numbers from last year, but he could easily put up his best stats for this year.

Key Individual Match Up

I’m going with The U’s top CB Brandon McGee vs Virginia Tech’s top WR Marcus Davis.  Davis is a very big WR at 6’4, 232.  McGee is having his best season this year and hasn’t made it easy on any WR he’s faced.  Logan Thomas likes to go deep to Davis off play action so there will be plenty of opportunities for McGee to show just how good he’s become this year.  Hopefully for the Canes he can make more plays than he gives up.  

Player of the Game

I’m not really feeling too confident in anyone this week offensively or defensively.  It’s just been a year that makes it pretty tough to feel really good about anyone.  So this week I’m going with Dalton Botts.  He’s been very good for the Canes throughout the season and will play a key role in this game.  I can see him helping us win the field position game and helping out our ‘not as horrible as it was a few weeks ago’ defense.

A Few Quick Thoughts

Thought #1.  Last week felt like some deja vu.  A QB coming off an injury being used in a way that is totally oblivious to that fact.  A throwback pass to a QB coming off an ankle injury?  44 passes to only 16 called runs? Felt like Jedd Fisch’s worst game as our OC.  Made me miss Dan Werner – something I never thought was possible.

Thought #2.  Piggy backing the last thought.  Mike James needs to get at least 20 carries each game the rest of the way out.  Not 20 touches – 20 carries.  And ideally at least 65% would come while Morris is under center.  In the 4 games he’s carried at least 10 times the team is 3-1.  Just give him the damn ball.

Thought #3. Our defense can’t get sacks.  We are historically bad but its pretty much on par with what our DC’s defenses were producing when he was at Temple.  24 sacks in that last season he boasts about defensively.  24 ain’t getting the job done and we probably don’t even get that number.  Just another reason I hope our DC gets offered a job at “Fill in the Blank” this off season.

Once again, this has been another text version of Break It Down.  Since you are here reading this, thanks for being part of the conversation here at EyeoftheHurricane.net.  Remember show that you love your child, mom, dad, or life partner by giving them a U Five (trademark pending).

miami va tech2

Miami vs. Virginia Tech Preview

~ The following article was contributed by esteemed Eye of the Hurricane blogger, Delray ~

This week the Miami Hurricanes continue their 2012 season and will again try to stop the bleeding. After a respectable 4-1 start, the Canes find themselves trying to stay above .500.  This is another one of those games that when the schedule comes out, you look for and circle it. Virginia Tech has always been a thorn in our side for the past 6 or so seasons, or at least since we have come over to the ACC. They have stumbled a bit as of late so let’s take a closer look at the Hokies!

OFFENSE

Quarterback

3 Logan Thomas | 6-6, 262, JR

Logan put a dagger through many Hurricanes fans’ hearts last year.  If it wasn’t his nearly perfect  throwing,  it was the forth and short option keeper for a touchdown late in the game. He hasn’t had the year he had last year mostly due to his supporting lineup being a bit younger.  Logan has converted 133 of 248 passes for a 53.6% accuracy rating.  He has thrown 13 touchdowns with 10 interceptions to go with his 1,910 yards.  He is dangerous when he gets that 260 lb frame going south as he has amassed 300 yards on 92 carries.

Running Backs

45 Joey Phillips | 5-11, 233, SR

4 J.C. Coleman | 5-7, 176, FR

Unless there is an act of God, you will not see Phillips run the ball.  He is the ultimate blocking fullback.  Coleman will do most of the rushing for the Hokies having rushed 56 times for 338 yards for a 6 yard average.

Wide Receivers

7 Marcus Davis | 6-4, 228, SR

83 Corey Fuller | 6-2, 191, SR

Davis and Fuller have separated themselves from the other receivers in this class.  The 2 seniors have combined for 58 receptions and 1,146 yards with 4 touchdowns each.  They both average about 20 yards per reception.

Tight End

88 Ryan Malleck | 6-4, 250, SO

Ryan has caught 10 passes this season for 95 yards.  He is a decent blocker and has good hands.

Offensive Line

71 Vinston Painter | 6-6, 304,

55 Brent Benedict | 6-5, 311, SO

76 David Wang | 6-1, 286, JR

67 Michael Via | 6-7, 283, SR

54 Nick Becton | 6-6, 328, SR

You may see some jumbling going on as starting center Andrew Miller is out for the season with a broken leg.  Here’s to a speedy recovery,  Andrew.  The line so far this season has given up 15 sacks.  Not an eye popping number either way, but Logan Thomas isn’t the easiest QB to bring down.

DEFENSE

Defensive Tackles

92 Luther Maddy | 6-0, 288, FR

98 Derrick Hopkins | 6-0, 305, JR

These two have combined for 55 tackles and 6.5 sacks with the freshman having 4 of them.

Defensive Ends

99 James Gayle | 6-4, 250, JR

42 J.R. Collins | 6-2, 252, JR

Gayle also has 4 sacks to go along with his 29 tackles.  Collins has chipped in with 25 tackles.

Linebackers

37 Ronny Vandyke | 6-3, 215, FR

58 Jack Tyler | 5-11, 230, JR

51 Bruce Taylor | 6-2, 253, SR

Tyler is the leader of the defensive group registering 77 tackles with 7.5 being for a loss and 2 sacks.  Taylor is not far behind with 49 tackles.  Vandyke, the freshman, has just broken into the starting lineup and has 13 tackles with 2 of them being for a loss.

Corner Backs

17 Kyle Fuller | 6-0, 181, JR

1 Antone Exum | 6-0, 219, JR

These 2 corners have 58 tackles between them and 2 picks each.

Safeties

34 Kyshoen Jarrett | 5-10, 188, SO

8 Detrick Bonner | 6-0, 186, SO

Jarrett is the guy who will come up and be physical.  So far he is second on the team with 59 tackles while Bonner checks in with 33 tackles and an INT.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

89 Cody Journell | 5-11, 178, JR

So far this year Cody has been extremely accurate having converted 10 of 11 field goal tries.  His longest of the season though is 41 yards.  If memory serves me, it was against GT as time expired in the 4th to send the game into overtime.  With that said, the kid can handle pressure.

Punter

38  A.J. Hughes | 6-1, 190, FR

AJ is averaging 40 yards per punt but has put 8 of his 41 punts inside the 20.

Punt Returns

34 Kyshoen Jarrett | 5-10, 188, SO

Jarrett has returned 10 punts for 181 yards.  That would equate to just over 18 yards per return.  1 of those returns for 94 yards, went for a touchdown.

Kick Returns

80 Demitri Knowles | 6-0, 174, FR

This kid can really run.  So far this season he has averaged 28 yards per return including a 93 yard return for a touchdown.

You really don’t have to say much about this game.  Every year it is and has been the same story for the past five or so years.  They are in the same Costal Division as we are and are the team we have to beat in order the get to the ACCCG.  So far this has never happened.  Miami has always come in with the better athletes but for one reason or another, Frank Beamer and his staff find a way to get the job done.  This has not been a banner year for the Hokies.  They started out 3-3 and where down 20-0 last week before they hit the switch and ran off 41 straight points to beat a surprising Duke team.  Many though they were back but a loss to Clemson last week kept them at .500.  Make no mistake, whichever team comes out of this game with the win will be the favorite for the ACC Costal Division.

Hope to see you all next Thursday night for the 7:30 kickoff.

Go Canez!

~Delray

Nick-OLeary FSU

Miami vs. Florida State Preview

~ The following article was contributed by beloved Eye of the Hurricane blogger, Delray ~

This week the Miami Hurricanes continue their 2012 season and will try to stop the bleeding.  After a respectable 4-1 start, the Canes find themselves on a 2 game slide with back-to-back losses to Notre Dame and North Carolina.  This is a rivalry game for us and we all know anything can happen.  Most people feel we don’t have much of a chance, but never rule the Canes out.

Let’s take a look at our little brothers from the North.

Quarterback

3 EJ Manuel | 6-5, 238, SR

EJ had entered the season with a few people whispering Heisman candidate.  I don’t think he has had the type of year to keep him in that conversation but nevertheless, he has had a very good season.  EJ has converted 132 of 183 passes for a 72% accuracy rating.  He has thrown 14 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions to go with his 1,804 yards.  He isn’t a huge threat to tuck the ball and run but will not shy away from it either.

Running Backs

4 Chris Thompson | 5-8, 187, SR

Chris is the primary back the Seminoles will use throughout the game.  So far he has tallied 675 yards on 84 carries averaging just under 100 yards per game.  He is also dangerous catching passes out of the backfield hauling in 19 receptions for 201 yards.  When the Seminoles get close to the goal line, look for James Wilder to take over inside the Red-Zone.  Look for FB Lonnie Pryor to open the holes for whomever is behind him but don’t expect him to get the ball more than once or twice a game, just to keep the defense honest.

Wide Receivers

80 Rashad Greene | 6-0, 175, SO

84 Rodney Smith | 6-6, 219, SR

1 Kelvin Benjamin | 6-5, 243, FR

The Seminoles will use many different receivers but the one the Canes need to concern themselves the most with are these 3.  Together they have combined for 61 receptions for 850 yards and 7 touchdowns.  Kenny Shaw coming off the bench is no slouch either with 16 receptions for 350 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Tight End

35 Nick O’Leary | 6-3, 238, SO

This kid reminds me a Dave Casper type throwback TE.  Tough as nails and shies away from nothing.  Nick has 11 receptions for 136 yards and 1 touchdown.

Offensive Line

75 Cameron Erving | 6-5, 304, RS SO

71 Menelik Watson | 6-6, 320, JR

70 Josue Matias | 6-6, 325, SO

54 Tre Jackson | 6-4, 325, SO

52 Bryan Stork | 6-4, 312, RS JR

Not a senior in the group but this is a rugged group.  The Seminoles offensive line has allowed 11 sacks in 7 games and as a team rushes for 233 yards per game on average.

DEFENSE

Defensive Tackles

92 Anthony McCloud | 6-2, 322, SR

93 Everett Dawkins | 6-2, 301, SR

McCloud and Dawkins have combined for 1 sack this year (.5 each) and 29 total tackles.

Defensive Ends

91 C. Carradine | 6-5, 265, SR

95 Bjoern Werner | 6-4, 255, JR

Carradine and Werner have combined for 14 sacks this season, 18 tackles for loss and 63 total tackles.  These guys are the real deal.

Linebackers

7 Christian Jones | 6-4, 232, JR

10 Nick Moody | 6-2, 237, RS SR

11 Vince Williams | 6-1, 250, SR

This is an experienced group.  Jones leads the group with 39 tackles so far and the sole interception.  Williams is not far behind with 23 tackles.

Corner Backs

6 Nick Waisome | 5-10, 170, SO

27 Xavier Rhodes | 6-2, 215, RS JR

It says a lot about depth when you can lose perhaps one of the top corners in the league, not to mention one of the premier return men in the history of FSU, in Greg Reid.  These 2 men have not missed a beat.  Rhodes and Waisome have 3 interceptions between them and 32 tackles combined.

Safeties

20 Lamarcus Joyner | 5-8, 195, JR

31 Terrence Brooks | 5-11, 195, JR

Both of these guys are not afraid to come up and hit.  They are extremely fast and have 2 interceptions and 51 tackles between them.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

18 Dustin Hopkins | 6-2, 190, SR

Watching this kid kick and it is easy to tell he will be kicking on Sundays next year.  So far he is 12 of 15 and perfect from inside the 30 with a long of 51.  He is also 40-41 on PATs and 23 of his 59 kickoffs have been for touchbacks.

Punter

38 Cason Beatty | 6-3, 229, FR

Cason is averaging 39 yards per punt but has put 14 of his 23 punts inside the 20.

Punt Returns

80 Rashad Greene | 6-0, 175, SO

Rashad has returned 18 punts for 302 yards.  That would equate to just over 16 yards per return.  2 of those returns have been for touchdowns.

Kick Returns

9 Karlos Williams | 6-2, 229, SO

20 Lamarcus Joyner | 5-8, 195, JR

These 2 guys numbers on kickoff returns are pretty much mirror images of one another.  They average 29 yards per return and have 6 returns each.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the only team that could beat FSU this year was FSU.  They have the talent and experience to win outright until they get the bowl game.  I would like our chances if they hadn’t fell asleep for the second half of the NC State game but that’s the difference I guess between Five and Two.  Do the Canes have a chance this weekend?  Yes.  Is it a good chance?  Probably not as good as we would like.  But like Al said, we are going into this game with the mindset that we are playing to win.  Could be an exciting game.  Anything can happen in a rivalry game like this.  That’s why we play them.

Go Canez!

~Delray

Miami vs. Notre Dame Preview

~ The following article was contributed by beloved Eye of the Hurricane blogger, Delray ~

This week the Miami Hurricanes continue the 2012 season looking for their 4th straight victory as they head to Soldier Field in Chicago to take on the little green men from Notre Dame. Say what you want about the Irish, but the fact is they are undefeated and are playing good on both sides of the ball, particularly defense.  They have defeated both Michigan and Michigan State in well-played games.  They are not a team that will beat themselves.  They are disciplined and have good speed at the impact positions.

Let’s take a look at some of their starting players.

Offense  (Spread)

Quarterback:

 5 Everett Golson | 6-0, 185, SO

Everett is a stay in the pocket type passer.  He has completed 50 of 89 passes this season with 3 interceptions and 3 touchdowns.  He has an efficiency rating of 121.6 and will average about 160 yards a game.

Running Back:

 6 Theo Riddick | 5-11, 200, SR

Theo is the leading rusher for the Irish in terms of yardage and attempts with 242 yards coming on 63 attempts.  He has averaged just over 60 yards per game. He is also their leading receiver in terms of completions with 14 catches for 117 yards.

Wide Receivers

81 John Goodman | 6-3, 215, SR

7 TJ Jones | 5-11, 190, JR

 9 Robby Toma | 5-9, 185, SR

None of the receiving crew really stands out.  They are very balanced with Jones having 11 catches and Goodman and Toma chipping in with 9 each averaging about 15 yards per completion.

 

Tight End

80 Tyler Eifert | 6-6, 251, SR

This may be Miami’s most difficult match up this year at the Tight End position.  Tyler is a good blocker and also has 9 catches for 158 yards and 1 touchdown.

Offensive Line

70 Zack Martin | 6-4, 304, SR

74 Christian Lombard | 6-5, 309, JR

66 Chris Watt | 6-3, 310, SR

57 Mike Golic | 6-3, 295, SR

52 Braxston Cave | 6-3, 304, SR

So far this season the Notre Dame offensive line has only let up 8 sacks. 5 of them came week #2 vs. Purdue and only 1 in the last 2 weeks against Michigan and Michigan State.  They have rushed for 561 yards and scored on 5 rushing touchdowns.

Defense:  (3-4)

Nose Tackle:

9 Louis Nix | 6-3, 326, JR

Somebody help me with this please?  This kid sounds familiar, I could be wrong, but he may have been a Miami commit at one point but I’m not sure.  Anyway . . .  Louis has 3 sacks on the year in 4 games and 16 tackles.  He clogs up the middle and allows the line backers to feast.

Defensive Ends:

 K. Lewis-Moore | 6-4, 306, SR

 7 Stephon Tuitt | 6-6, 303, SO

Tuitt is the speed rusher who has 6 sacks already on the season to go with 14 tackles while Moore has 7 tackles on the other side.

Linebackers:

13 Danny Spond | 6-2, 248, JR

55 Prince Shembo | 6-2, 250, JR

5 Manti Te’o | 6-2, 255, SR

48 Dan Fox | 6-3, 240, SR

The leader of this group is Te’o.  He was highly recruited out of high school in Hawaii.  Everybody, including myself thought he would end up at SC West.  He chose Notre Dame and they are sure glad he did.  So far he has lead the team with 38 tackles and is tied in the team lead with 3 interceptions.  Fox has added 20 tackles while Shembo has chipped in with 17.  Spond has only seen the field in 2 games but has shown good range and has 10 tackles to show for.

Corner Backs:

2 Bennett Jackson | 6-0, 185, JR

6 KeiVarae Russell | 5-11, 182, FR

Jackson is the more aggressive of the 2 with 18 tackles and tied with Te’o for the team lead with 3 interceptions.  Russell, only a freshman, has 10 tackles and 1 interception.

Safeties:

17 Zeke Motta | 6-2, 215, SR

41 Matthias Farley | 5-11, 200, SO

Farley will play the last line of defense at the free safety while the strong side belongs to Zeke who is 2nd on the team with 26 tackles trailing only Te’o.

Special Teams:

27 Kyle Brindza | 6-1, 225, SO  Kicker

Kyke is 6 for 7 on field goals this year with a long of 47 yards.

35 Ben Turk | 5-11, 186, SR  Punter

Ben has averaged 41 yards per punt on 19 punts.

Returns

19 Davonte Neal | 5-9, 171, FR  PR

Neal has returned 7 punts for 28 yards for a 4 yard average with a long of 11 yards.

4 George Atkinson | 6-1, 210, SO   KR

Atkinson has brought back 3 kick offs for 69 yards.

When the schedule comes out every year you always read through it and circle a couple games in your mind.  This would be the game that gets circled right away.  Although it may not have the flair of the rivalry in the late 80s, we do have 2 teams that have hit bottom and are building their way back up to what they hope will be national prominence.  There is probably more at stake for ND in this game as they are an independent and every game to them is important.  They have their eyes on a bigger prize this year than the ‘Canes do.  I don’t think that will make a difference in how either team approaches the game.  It should be an exciting one for sure. 

Notre Dame’s strength will be in their front 7 defensive position.  In order for Miami to win, they must win that battle and give Morris time to pick his open receivers.  If they give him time, Miami has a good shot at an upset.  Miami’s defense will also be in for a difficult test.  I don’t believe the Notre Dame team is anywhere as good as Kansas State.  However, having a strong tight end and a versatile running back that can catch the ball out of the backfield will give them fits if the proper scheme is not followed.

Go Canes!

~Delray

Billy Corben Returns to ESPN’s 30 for 30 With “Broke”

~ The following article was contributed by beloved Eye of the Hurricane blogger, Delray ~

If you are like me, you’ve probably had one of those days when you are paying your bills and balancing your check book and wondering how you are going to make ends meet for a particular day, week or month.  You slowly dream off about having a high-paying job, thinking that all these problems would be gone.  However, with high paying jobs and bigger salaries come bigger problems. This can be particularly true with professional athletes whose egos are second only to the size of a Laspada’s sub.

Tuesday night at 8:00pm our favorite filmmaker, Billy Corben (The U, Cocaine Cowboys, and Square Grouper just to name a few), will release his latest documentary Broke on ESPN as part of the Network’s Peabody Award-winning series, 30 for 30. 

The idea for Broke originally came to Billy while working on the highest-rated documentary in the 30 for 30 series The U.  During the interviewing process of putting The U together, Billy noticed former Hurricane quarterback Bernie Kosar a bit frazzled during his interview.  This was out of character for Bernie and it was evident something was bothering him.  A week later, Bernie made headlines in local papers as he was in the process of filing for bankruptcy.  Bernie had been highly leveraged and when the bottom fell out of the market, many people fell with it.  Bernie was one of them.

In Broke, Billy specifically explores the financial downfall of a few different athletes including Leon Searcy, Andre Risen, Keith McCants and Cliff Floyd. Each former athlete will tell stories of family members, hangers on,  shady financial advisors, and of course cars,  women and jewelry.

Let’s take a look brief look at each of these profiled athlete’s careers…

Leon Searcy

Leon Searcy is a former NFL offensive lineman who played primarily with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars in an 11-year career spanning between 1992 and 2002.  Searcy also won 3 National Championships with the Miami Hurricanes and was inducted into the University of Miami Hall of Fame in 2003.

Andre Rison

Andre played professionally for the Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, and the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts. Rison was selected to the Pro Bowl five times, from 1990–1993, and once again in 1997.  He may best be known for having his house burnt down by Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.

Keith McCants

Keith played for six seasons in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Houston Oilers, and the Arizona Cardinals from 1990 to 1995. He was selected by Tampa Bay in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft.  Coming out of Alabama, Keith was expected to be the top pick in the 1990 NFL Draft.  However, due to his family accepting money from an agent (this is the SEC after all), he fell to the 4th pick overall.

Cliff Floyd

Cliff played for a total 17 seasons spanning from 1993 through 2009 for several teams including the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins, Boston Red Sox,  New York Mets,  Chicago Cubs,  Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres.  His best year came in 2001 with the Marlins when he hit .317 with 31 home runs and 109 RBIs.

I know many of you are scratching your head just like I am at how these guys have gone broke after making so much money.  Billy will dig deep on this one looking at the competitive nature these athletes take with them on and off the field. 

I loved watching The U and enjoy Billy’s work.  If Broke is as good as advertised, it should give Billy’s previous documentary a run for its money in ratings.  At the very least, it will be an intriguing film that Corben can add to his resume.