What Does Miami Need to Improve?

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6-6 is not what Manny Diaz or any Miami Hurricanes fan had in mind when he took over this program almost one year ago. For 2 weeks Miami media, fans and others have spoken their minds about what went wrong in 2019. This seems to be a narrative that we have talked about for at least 7 of the last 10 seasons in Coral Gables. What has gone wrong in Miami that the Canes just can’t change? Why is the program stuck in a rut? Instead of beating a dead horse, let’s examine what the Canes have to do to get back to the upper echelon of college football in 2020.

The Offense

NCAA Football: Florida at Miami

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It has been well chronicled that Miami was very bad on offense in 2019. If Dan Enos is let go, would the offense suddenly be better in 2020? Could Miami thrive with an updated scheme that takes advantage of the skill players at WR and RB? Of course it could, but Miami’s problems aren’t a 1 year anomaly. Miami has been bad on offense for over a decade.

2019 – 73rd 27.8ppg

2018 – 66th 28.8ppg

2017 – 59th 29.1ppg

2016 – 37th 34.3ppg

2015 – 71st 27.8ppg

2014 – 63rd 29.2ppg

2013 – 34th 33.8ppg

2012 – 49th 31.4ppg

2011 – 64th 26.5ppg

2010 – 66th 26.3ppg

Average 58th – 29.5ppg

When looking at the offensive points per game for the last decade, Miami has been a middle of the road offensive team for a long time. The last time Miami had a Top 20 scoring offense was all the way back in 2002, so it’s no coincidence in a day where offensive football rules college football that the Canes are way behind. LSU, who will be in the playoffs, increased their offensive output from 38th scoring in 2018, to 3rd in 2019. LSU changed from the dinosaur offense of years gone by to a sophisticated shotgun based scheme where they get their WRs and RBs the ball in space. Miami must adapt of they will never be close to a good program again.

Pick a QB

Virginia v Miami

Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Manny Diaz preached before the season that whoever wins the QB job would be his QB for the season barring injury. Yet here we are again heading into a meaningless bowl game with the QB spot open for competition. Jarren Williams played really well in some games (Louisville & FSU) and really poorly in others (FIU & Duke), but as a Redshirt Freshman he did enough in my eyes to keep his job. N’Kosi Perry came off the bench to beat Virginia, and rally the team against Virginia Tech, but was really poor against Pitt. The worst thing a coach can do is play QB roulette which ruined Mark Richt’s final team, and wrecked Robert Mavre when he had to share the job with Jacory Harris. Pick a QB, whether it’s Jarren, N’Kosi, Tate Martell or incoming freshman Tyler Van Dyke and roll with them for the season. It’s only fair to the player and the team.

Talent on the Offensive Line

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 Bethune-Cookman at Miami

Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Canes have a talent deficiency on the offensive line which is hurting everything else around them. Miami is trying to run an offense that is predicated on having better talent up front. Miami is relying right now on 2 true freshmen in Jakai Clark and Zion Nelson to start. Nothing against Clark or Nelson, but both of them should’ve been red-shirting this season, and probably not starting until they were in their 3rd year at the earliest. The problem is Miami has not recruited this position well in a long time, and when they do get highly ranked players on campus, they don’t live up to expectations. Miami must prioritize the line moving forward, and take numbers instead of swinging and missing at stars and having no fallback plan. Each cycle should garner at least 4 offensive linemen to get the numbers and the competition back to where it needs to be.

Win Games they are Supposed To

Miami v Duke

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Miami can’t keep losing to Georgia Tech, Duke or FIU. This is a trend that started by losing games to Virginia, Boston College North Carolina and other middle of the road teams in the ACC and has now expanded to the bottom feeders on the schedule. Manny Diaz must figure out how to have his team motivated every week in 2020, and not just against Florida St. Good teams win all of the games they are supposed to and then win a lot of the games that are 50-50. Miami is losing the 50-50 games and now are losing the easy ones. When you look at next year’s slate of teams that Miami will face, motivation could once again be a challenge for Manny.

Manny Diaz has his work cut out for him, as most coaches are given 3 years to get the program right, but after a 6-6 season, Manny has to fix this immediately.


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John Michaels


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