Mark Richt’s retirement at Miami just before New Year’s Eve shook up the coaching landscape for just several hours. The Hurricanes wasted no time in finding Richt’s replacement, wooing Manny Diaz away from his new Temple position.
In one day, the Miami football program changed and stayed the same. Things are different in Coral Gables now, but many issues remain that could doom the program.
With Diaz now leading the way, Miami should retain its defensive prowess that is has exhibited over the last three seasons. Since being hired under Richt as defensive coordinator in 2016, here’s how Miami’s defense has fared in a few basic statistics.
- Scoring defense: 18.5 points per game (12th in FBS)
- Total defense: 345.4 yards per game (20th in FBS)
- Takeaways: 19 (tied for 67th in FBS)
- Scoring defense: 21 points per game (28th in FBS)
- Total defense: 362.8 yards per game (38th in FBS)
- Takeaways: 31 (tied for third in FBS)
- Scoring defense: 19.5 points per game (18th in FBS)
- Total defense: 278.9 yards per game (fifth in FBS)
- Takeaways: 25 (tied for 16th in FBS)
Clearly, defense has not been the issue for Miami over the last three seasons. Their defense has kept them in most games and the number of turnovers they’ve forced has allowed their offense to throw some points on the board that the offense didn’t earn.
Scoring has been the problem for Miami. Let’s look at how their offense has fared over the last three seasons.
- Scoring offense: 34.3 points per game (37th in FBS)
- Total offense: 425.9 yards per game (57th in FBS)
- Third down conversions: 36.26 percent (99th in FBS)
- Scoring offense: 29.1 points per game (59th in FBS)
- Total offense: 403.3 yards per game (60th in FBS)
- Third down conversions: 28.83 percent (126th in FBS)
- Scoring offense: 28.8 points per game (66th in FBS)
- Total offense: 358.8 yards per game (105th in FBS)
- Third down conversions: 40.68 percent (54th in FBS)
Miami’s offense has been the glaring issue over the last three seasons. The defense has more than held up their end of the bargain, but the offense has repeatedly fell short. Miami failed to finish in the top 30 in scoring offense, total offense or third down conversion percentage in any of the three seasons Richt was in town.
Despite all the flash and the positive media coverage, Miami hasn’t performed when it matters. As ESPN’s Andrea Adelson wrote, “since starting 10-0 last season, Miami is 7-9, including 5-9 against Power 5 opponents. Miami opened this season ranked in the top 10, only to finish 7-6 with no real answers about its future. On the early signing date several weeks back, Miami signed a class ESPN ranks No. 34, its disappointing season no doubt a direct correlation.”
With Diaz running the show, Virginia Tech fans should expect more of the same from the Hurricanes. Miami’s defense should remain dominant and that unit will keep them in most of their games.
Who Diaz chooses as his offensive coordinator will determine if his tenure as head coach is successful. Former North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora has been rumored as a candidate for the job, and someone of Fedora’s pedigree is needed to get Miami’s offense going in the right direction. The talent level is there, but the execution and gameplanning hasn’t been.
Diaz’s performance at Miami will be intriguing to watch. Can he revive the Hurricanes’ tropical depression offense, or will Miami continue to be a team with all the talent in the world that simply doesn’t perform as well as they should?