The Miami Hurricanes are just two seasons removed from a ten win season and an ACC Coastal title. Based on the play against Georgia Tech on Saturday, that 2017 team is long gone. Manny Diaz just a week after coming off a ranked victory against Virginia, lost to a one win Georgia Tech team at home. After an off-season full of promise and new energy by Diaz, the Hurricanes are right back to the point of mediocrity.
There are a number of issues that have kept Miami from returning back to a championship contender. None of those should have stopped the Hurricanes from beating Georgia Tech, who lost to the Citadel earlier this season. Through seven games, the Hurricanes have more questions than answers about their team. Even after having one of the easiest schedules in the ACC, Miami stands with only three wins and four losses.
The New Miami Feels Like More Of The Same
Lack Of Identity
Upon being named head coach, Diaz made the move to fire the entire offensive staff that was left over from Mark Richt. Dan Enos was chosen to be the offensive coordinator, mainly due to his offensive efficiency and his ability to groom quarterbacks. Although the quarterback position has performed better than it did under Richt, the offense is still a struggle. Miami has been able to out rush teams like Florida and North Carolina. But they have struggled against Central Michigan and Virginia Tech. Many of the problems have occurred from the inability to protect the passer. Between the struggle of protecting long developing plays and the lack of red zone offense, it shows why Miami has only scored 28 points or more against one FBS team.
The offense being a work in progress was to be expected, as most of the offense is young including the offensive line. However the one unit that Miami expected to continue to perform at a high level was the defense. Although the defense hasn’t been below average, it’s looked like a shell of itself Saturday. Diaz stated he would get more back involved on that side after allowing 42 points to Virginia Tech. But Miami gave up 28 to a Georgia Tech team transitioning from the triple option. The identity under the defense when Diaz was the defensive coordinator was a tough unit that tackled well and made opportunistic plays. The tackling has been average and Miami’s turnover numbers are down drastically.
As bad and undisciplined as the Hurricanes have looked offensively and defensively, the biggest issue is their kicking game. The Hurricanes have four losses by seven or fewer points in each game. At some point during each game there was a missed opportunity by the kicker to seal the game. Against Florida, there was a missed field goal which could’ve helped give Miami a ten point lead. At North Carolina, an extra point after a touchdown was blocked and ruined a chance to tie the game. Miami overcame a 28 point deficit against Virginia Tech and a missed extra point spoiling an opportunity to give Miami a one point lead.
Sophomore Bubba Baxa has tremendous leg strength but fails to find the net on closer field goals. Miami thought to have solved it’s kicking issues with walk on Turner Davidson in a win against Virginia. But he missed two attempts against Georgia Tech which helped the Yellow jackets upset Miami at home.
It is too early to speak on firing Diaz as the Hurricanes are only seven games in. However many can question the move to hire Diaz away from Temple without interviewing any other candidates. Most notably, Mario Cristobal who is currently the head coach at Oregon but won two national championships at Miami. It’s been stated that Miami is the only place that he would have picked up the phone for but athletic director Blake James was locked in on Diaz. Seven games isn’t much to go on. But losing to a team that Miami was favored over by 18 points is eye opening.