The Miami Hurricanes left Death Valley with some major questions regarding the team as a whole.
From the get-go, they were dominated up front and hash to hash. But after a closer look, it may have not been as bad as it was at first glance. Here are my final thoughts on Miami’s 42-17 loss to Clemson.
Can Lashlee make adjustments going forward?
With the Hurricanes’ offense seemingly clicking throughout the first three games, adjustments were never needed. UM had success in all three games when running and controlling the tempo. This was not seen against Clemson, however, as from the very first snap, they came downhill and never stopped.
The most alarming takeaway from the game is Rhett Lashlee not adjusting the offense whatsoever. Even at half, defensive coordinator Blake Baker made adjustments to keep Travis Etienne contained out of the backfield. The offense never seemed to try anything different outside of a few gadget plays and shots downfield late when needed because of the margin of points Miami was losing by.
The fact that the Hurricanes were unable to take advantage of them attacking the line of scrimmage so hard all game was disappointing. They would have benefited from some quick dumps to the running backs, mesh routes or even some quick throws to the tight end’s who are good after the catch.
Miami continued to throw jump balls to their wide receiver despite them being outclassed all game. Lashlee was able to do this with James Proche at SMU last year. He’s in the NFL doing the same thing today and coming down with contested catches against the best DB’s in the world.
But the Hurricanes’ WR’s simply cannot do this and have shown no fight when dealing with a one-on-one situation. A 50/50 ball for UM’s wideouts seemed to be 90/10 in Death Valley and that’s not a hyperbole. The high powered offense we’ve seen all season was dying for a first down and sputtered all night.
Brent Venable’s defensive gameplan was simple, take away Miami’s best options and force them to win with their worst options.
Miami’s WR’s are who we thought they were.
A lot of Lashlee’s offense relies on the running game to open up the defense. Clemson attacked the line of scrimmage all night and took the run game away oftentimes with a safety in the box. This put the pressure on Miami’s WR’s to win one-on-one matchups, which they failed to do all night.
Lashlee mentioned all week leading up that the receivers needed to show up for the gameplan to work. They were outclassed all night by young athletic corners who were put on an island against the Hurricanes’ upperclassmen at WR. Venables flat out did not respect Miami’s three deep and dared D’Eriq King to attempt to beat them with his arm all game. We’ll see more of this coming up all season because teams now know that the Hurricanes’ WR’s pose absolutely no threat.
Dee Wiggins had a few chances to work back on balls that were underthrown but instead just kept running. Mark Pope continues to disappear when facing any defensive back with talent and Jeremiah Payton looked lost at times. Mike Harley had a few chances downfield and showed absolutely no fight when he was in a contested-catch situation.
All three of them seem to be the same player: straight-line speed, less than dependable hands and route running and bad at contested catches. Truthfully, they are all built like slot guys as well.
Most contending teams in the Power Five right now have WR’s in the three deep that will at least fight to get on an NFL 53-man roster. But Miami doesn’t have one upperclassman right now that will do that. UM can scheme all day, but if the weapons can’t win matchups, it’s a lost cause.
Miami’s linebackers can use a dose of athleticism.
Following the Clemson game, it’s clear that Sam Brooks needs to be a full-time linebacker at one of the two spots. He shined against the best team in the country more so than Zach McCloud and BJ Jennings throughout their first three games.
The defense would benefit from Avery Huff and Brooks in the two spots simply because most mental miscues they may have will be made up by their sheer athleticism. And it’s hard to say the same for Jennings and McCloud. They are good athletes but play slow because of their inability to diagnose plays and take good angles.
Miami’s defense is better than expected.
Bubba Bolden solidified himself as a Sunday player and proved that he’s able to play with the best in the country. He finished the night with 10 tackles and a forced fumble on defense. The redshirt junior gave Miami light a few times as well with two blocked kicks on special teams.
Quincy Roche beat Jackson Carman all night and was held on several possessions. He was responsible for four total pressures and may have had a few sacks if not for him being held for a majority of the snaps.
Jaelan Phillips sacked Trevor Lawrence once and pressured him six times on the night. He was the only player that was able to get home and bring down Lawrence for a sack notched just the third sack given up by the Tigers all season.
Gilbert Frierson was once again Miami’s highest-graded players after doing the same against FSU. Frierson had seven tackles and a pass breakup on the night. He was responsible for Etienne in several passing situations and had a nice pass breakup and tackle behind the line to blow up a quick play.
Targeted seven times and allowing only 14 yards all night, Frierson is making a name for himself as one of UM’s best defensive tools.
DJ Ivey had arguably his best game defending the pass against Lawrence and his old teammate Frank Ladson. He was targeted five times and allowed one catch for 14 yards while breaking up two passes. There was a hiccup in tackling on Etienne’s long touchdown run where he looked to have hesitated because he thought Bolden was going to make the tackle.
As mentioned in my matchup article, Frierson and Bolden would be heavily tasked with containing Etienne and Lawrence. They both led the team in tackles and did as well as they could for being on the field for nearly all 40 minutes of the game. These guys are emerging as Miami’s best players beyond the front four and seem to get better every game.
True freshman Corey Flagg impressed in his 30 total snaps, as he graded out as the Hurricanes’ second-best run defender at linebacker. For somebody that inexperienced, his output shined the light on what he’s capable of accomplishing as he develops.