The Offense: Virginia

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Vishnu Parasuraman (aka 2003alumgocanes) Follow on Twitter and Facebook

Note:  I previously wrote a similar summary after the Georgia Tech game, and it was brought to my attention that Al Groh abandoned his 3-4, 2-deep scheme against Miami, and played an entirely new scheme, which certainly contributed to the offensive struggles in that game.

Here is a look at what went right and wrong offensively against Virginia, followed by some conclusions (opinions).

Possession #1

1st and 10 at MIA 27 Jacory Harris pass complete to Travis Benjamin for 8 yards to the MiaFl 35. 0 0
2nd and 2 at MIA 35 Jacory Harris pass incomplete to Tommy Streeter.
3rd and 2 at MIA 35 Jacory Harris pass complete to Allen Hurns for a loss of 2 yards to the MiaFl 33.
4th and 4 at MIA 33 Dalton Botts punt for 58 yards, returned by Dominique Terrell for 2 yards to the Virg 6, VIRGINIA penalty 5 yard Illegal Block on Kyle McCartin accepted.
DRIVE TOTALS: MIAMIFL drive: 3 plays 6 yards, 01:34 MIAMIFL PUNT

Summary:  The pass on 2nd down to Streeter was a drop that should have resulted in a 1st down, and short circuited the drive.

Possession #2

1st and 10 at MIA 15 Jacory Harris pass complete to Chase Ford for 8 yards to the MiaFl 23. 0 0
2nd and 2 at MIA 23 Lamar Miller rush for 3 yards to the MiaFl 26 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at MIA 26 Jacory Harris pass complete to Tommy Streeter for 6 yards to the MiaFl 32.
2nd and 4 at MIA 32 Lamar Miller rush for a loss of 2 yards to the MiaFl 30.
3rd and 6 at MIA 30 Jacory Harris pass incomplete to Allen Hurns.
4th and 6 at MIA 30 Dalton Botts punt for 44 yards, fair catch by Dominique Terrell at the Virg 26.
DRIVE TOTALS: MIAMIFL drive: 5 plays 15 yards, 02:38 MIAMIFL PUNT

Summary:  Solid 1st down throws put the ‘Canes in positive 2nd down position.  Unfortunately, a run play lost 2 yards on the 2nd set of downs, and on 3rd down,  a pass was incomplete to Hurns.  The 3rd down pass appeared to be pass interference, but went uncalled.

Possession #3

1st and 10 at MIA 17 Lamar Miller rush for 1 yard to the MiaFl 18. 7 0
2nd and 9 at MIA 18 Jacory Harris pass complete to Tommy Streeter for 57 yards to the Virg 25 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 25 Jacory Harris pass incomplete to Allen Hurns.
2nd and 10 at UVA 25 Lamar Miller rush for 2 yards to the Virg 23.
3rd and 8 at UVA 23 Jacory Harris pass incomplete to Phillip Dorsett.
4th and 8 at UVA 23 Jake Wieclaw 40 yard field goal MISSED.
DRIVE TOTALS: MIAMIFL drive: 5 plays 60 yards, 02:11 MIAMIFL FGA

Summary:  A good drive highlighted by a big pass play.  The running game failed to generate much of anything again.  The 3rd down incompletion to Dorsett appeared to be pass interference but went uncalled.  A missed FG wasted the drive entirely.

Possession #4

1st and 10 at MIA 33 Mike James rush for 1 yard to the MiaFl 34. 10 0
2nd and 9 at MIA 34 MIAMI FL penalty 10 yard Holding on Brandon Washington accepted.
2nd and 19 at MIA 24 VIRGINIA penalty 10 yard Pass Interference on Aaron Taliaferro accepted.
1st and 10 at MIA 34 Jacory Harris pass complete to Travis Benjamin for 8 yards to the MiaFl 42.
2nd and 2 at MIA 42 Lamar Miller rush for 6 yards to the MiaFl 48 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at MIA 48 Travis Benjamin rush for a loss of 7 yards to the MiaFl 41.
2nd and 17 at MIA 41 Jacory Harris rush for 18 yards to the Virg 41 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 41 Jacory Harris pass complete to Tommy Streeter for 26 yards to the Virg 15 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 15 Lamar Miller rush for no gain to the Virg 15.
2nd and 10 at UVA 15 Jacory Harris sacked by Team for a loss of 7 yards, fumbled, forced by Team, recovered by Virg Jake Snyder at the Virg 23.
DRIVE TOTALS: MIAMIFL drive: 8 plays 44 yards, 05:00 MIAMIFL FUMB

Summary:  After an ineffective first down run and a hold, the ‘Canes were the beneficiaries of a pass interference call.  Similar to the 2nd drive of the game, Fisch then deployed the passing game against run defenses to get into advantageous 2nd down situations.  After Miller’s most successful run of the game (at that point) to get a 1st down, a reverse to Benjamin was blown up, but an 18-yard scramble by Jacory made up for it.  Unfortunately, for the 2nd time, a very promising drive ended with no points, when the ball slipped out of Jacory’s hand for a fumble.  It’s a fluke play to a certain extent, but another empty drive where the ball was moved effectively.

Possession #5

1st and 10 at MIA 32 Jacory Harris rush for 3 yards to the MiaFl 35. 17 0
2nd and 7 at MIA 35 Jacory Harris sacked by Cam Johnson for a loss of 4 yards to the MiaFl 31.
3rd and 11 at MIA 31 Jacory Harris pass complete to Tommy Streeter for 20 yards to the Virg 49 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 49 MIAMI FL penalty 5 yard False Start on Brandon Washington accepted.
1st and 15 at MIA 46 Lamar Miller rush for 3 yards to the MiaFl 49.
2nd and 12 at MIA 49 Timeout MIAMI FLORIDA, clock 1:44.
2nd and 12 at MIA 49 Jacory Harris pass complete to Chase Ford for 14 yards to the Virg 37 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 37 Jacory Harris pass incomplete to Allen Hurns.
2nd and 10 at UVA 37 MIAMI FL penalty 5 yard False Start on Harland Gunn accepted.
2nd and 15 at UVA 42 Jacory Harris pass complete to Travis Benjamin for 39 yards to the Virg 3 for a 1ST down.
1st and Goal at UVA 3 Jacory Harris pass complete to Tommy Streeter for 3 yards for a TOUCHDOWN. 17 6
Jake Wieclaw extra point GOOD. 17 7
Jake Wieclaw kickoff for 70 yards returned by Darius Jennings for 17 yards to the Virg 17.

Summary:  A very strange drive.  Miami repeatedly got off schedule with negative plays and penalties, and were repeatedly bailed out by big passing plays, converting a 3rd and 11, 2nd and 12, and 2nd and 15.  On the 1st down incompletion to Hurns, there appeared to be pass interference that went uncalled, as well as a facemask on the Benjamin long completion, that also went uncalled.  The ‘Canes overcame that and finally scored on a TD pass to Streeter.

Possession#6

1st and 10 at UVA 41 Jacory Harris sacked by Jake Snyder for a loss of 6 yards to the Virg 47. 20 7
2nd and 16 at UVA 47 Jacory Harris pass incomplete to Allen Hurns.
3rd and 16 at UVA 47 Jacory Harris pass complete to Lamar Miller for 5 yards to the Virg 42.
4th and 11 at UVA 42 Dalton Botts punt for 27 yards, fair catch by Dominique Terrell at the Virg 15.
DRIVE TOTALS: MIAMIFL drive: 3 plays -1 yards, 01:42 MIAMIFL PUNT

Summary:  Miami’s worst drive of the game.  The first down sack was pretty clearly a fumble.  If you look carefully at the replay the sacker ripped the ball out of Jacory’s hands.  It’s unclear whether he had full possession at any point, as the ball was jarred loose again.  That is irrelevant though, since the ball ended up between Jacory’s legs, and was then recovered again by a Virginia player.  The officials stated that they reviewed the play and that it was a fumble recovered by Miami, which makes no sense.  Outside of field position, it had no effect as an incompletion and a check down resulted in a punt.

Possession #7

1st and 10 at MIA 20 Lamar Miller rush for 6 yards to the MiaFl 26. 20 7
2nd and 4 at MIA 26 Lamar Miller rush for 6 yards to the MiaFl 32 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at MIA 32 Lamar Miller rush for 7 yards to the MiaFl 39.
2nd and 3 at MIA 39 Jacory Harris pass complete to Maurice Hagens for 10 yards to the MiaFl 49 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at MIA 49 Jacory Harris pass complete to Tommy Streeter for 51 yards for a TOUCHDOWN. 20 13
Jake Wieclaw extra point GOOD. 20 14
Jake Wieclaw kickoff for 62 yards returned by Darius Jennings, fumbled, recovered by Virg Darius Jennings at the Virg 10, Darius Jennings for 4 yards, to the Virg 14.
DRIVE TOTALS: MIAMIFL drive: 5 plays 80 yards, 02:23 MIAMIFL TD

Summary:  Finally, some positive run plays as every other run attempt had been basically stuffed.  After 3 successful runs, Miami reached the end zone in 2 passes.  The TD was an ill-advised throw, into double coverage, but Streeter made a great play on the ball.

Possession #8

1st and 10 at MIA 42 Jacory Harris pass incomplete to Travis Benjamin. 28 14
2nd and 10 at MIA 42 Lamar Miller rush for 8 yards to the 50 yard line.
3rd and 2 at MIA 50 Lamar Miller rush for 1 yard to the Virg 49.
4th and 1 at UVA 49 Jacory Harris pass complete to Allen Hurns for 13 yards to the Virg 36 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 36 Jacory Harris pass incomplete.
2nd and 10 at UVA 36 Mike James rush for 1 yard to the Virg 35.
3rd and 9 at UVA 35 Jacory Harris pass complete to Allen Hurns for 15 yards to the Virg 20 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 20 Travis Benjamin rush for a loss of 2 yards to the Virg 22.
2nd and 12 at UVA 22 Jacory Harris pass complete to Tommy Streeter for 13 yards to the Virg 9 for a 1ST down.
1st and Goal at UVA 9 Jacory Harris pass complete to Allen Hurns for 9 yards for a TOUCHDOWN. 28 20
Jake Wieclaw extra point GOOD. 28 21
Jake Wieclaw kickoff for 70 yards returned by Khalek Shepherd, fumbled, recovered by Virg Khalek Shepherd in the endzone, Khalek Shepherd for 8 yards, to the Virg 8.
DRIVE TOTALS: MIAMIFL drive: 10 plays 58 yards, 04:46 MIAMIFL TD

Summary:  A drive highlighted by a huge 4th down conversion and several big throws to Hurns.  Unfortunately, a failure to run the ball effectively in short yardage would be a sign of things to come.  This was simply a drive of Harris making plays in long yardage situations to repeatedly keep the drive alive, eventually throwing a strike for a TD.

Possession #9

1st and 10 at MIA 47 Jacory Harris pass complete to Lamar Miller for 2 yards to the MiaFl 49. 28 21
2nd and 8 at MIA 49 Lamar Miller rush for 7 yards to the Virg 44.
3rd and 1 at UVA 44 Lamar Miller rush for no gain to the Virg 44.
4th and 1 at UVA 44 Jacory Harris pass complete to Clive Walford for 4 yards to the Virg 40 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 40 Lamar Miller rush for 17 yards to the Virg 23 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 23 Jacory Harris pass complete to Mike James for 2 yards to the Virg 21.
2nd and 8 at UVA 21 Lamar Miller rush for 5 yards to the Virg 16.
3rd and 3 at UVA 16 Mike James rush for 1 yard to the Virg 15.
4th and 2 at UVA 15 Mike James rush for a loss of 1 yard to the Virg 16.
DRIVE TOTALS: MIAMIFL drive: 9 plays 37 yards, 05:02 MIAMIFL DOWNS

Summary:  This drive is the one that will be discussed due to the play calling (not letting your best player on the night, Jacory Harris, throw on 3rd and 4th and short after he had repeatedly converted those) and due to the clock management, where the Hurricanes lacked any sort of urgency, allowing over 5 minutes to run off the clock with only 7 minutes left, down by a TD.  We know what happened here.  The ‘Canes failed in short yardage 3 times running, and succeeded the 1 time they threw.  The ‘Canes had success running on the long yardage situations against pass defenses, but in obvious run situations, they couldn’t move Virginia’s defense.  The drive ended with 2 rushes on the last 2 plays, totaling 0 yards.

Possession #10

1st and 10 at MIA 35 Jacory Harris rush for 20 yards to the Virg 45 for a 1ST down. 28 21
1st and 10 at UVA 45 Jacory Harris pass incomplete to Tommy Streeter.
2nd and 10 at UVA 45 Stephen Morris pass complete to Travis Benjamin for 13 yards to the Virg 32 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 32 Stephen Morris pass complete to Eduardo Clements for 23 yards to the Virg 9 for a 1ST down.
End of 4th Quarter

Summary:  This was obviously desperation time.  No timeouts, needing to go to the end zone, in 25 seconds.  A nice scramble on 1st down put the ‘Canes in Virginia territory. I actually like going to the end zone right after that because once the defense sets their Hail Mary prevent, it is much harder to hit that throw.  Sure enough, Streeter had as good a chance at catching that pass as you are going to get in these situations.  All hell broke loose when Jacory got hurt, and Morris had to come in.  Credit to Morris, coming in cold (without warming up), and then delivering a strike to get even closer.  Unfortunately, a last Hail Mary was never attempted as the pocket broke down, and Morris was forced to dump it to Clements, who was tackled inside the 10.

Overall observations

Virginia loaded up against the run, and it opened up the passing game, which Miami exploited time and again.  Take out the last drive (which was desperation) and Miami completed 21/29, 72% of Jacory Harris’ passes for 310 yards and 3 TDs. Those numbers would have looked even better had 3 obvious pass interference penalties been called and one pass not been dropped.

Also, outside of the last drive (this number actually goes up if you include the last drive), Miami had the ball 9 times.  Of those 9 drives, 6 resulted in drives inside the Virginia 25 yard line, yet only 3 of them resulted in scores, with a missed FG, fluke fumble, and a failed 4th down resulting in lost points.

It’s hard to fault the play calling until that last sequence of plays (with 2 James’ runs).  With Virginia taking away the run, and Miami proving time and again that they couldn’t move Virginia off the ball, Fisch used Harris’ passing to exploit the #8 pass defense in the country, and did so effectively.  Running into that defense would have been suicide and proved ineffective until UVA built a large enough lead where they started playing the pass more.  Fisch was correct to ride his passing game, and the only issue was with finishing drives, where sloppiness reigned supreme.  Overall, the offense wasn’t sharp and it resulted in untimely, drive-killing miscues when a little bit of cleaner play could have resulted in a lot more points.  Looking at the miscues:

Possession #1:  Streeter drop.
Possession #2:  Probably pass interference on 3rd down.
Possession #3:  Probably pass interference on 3rd down and a missed FG.
Possession #4:  Ball slipped out of Jacory’s hand.
Possession #5:  TD
Possession #6:  Sack on 1st down killed it.
Possession #7:  TD
Possession #8:  TD
Possession #9:  Stuffed on 3rd and 4th and short.
Possession #10:  just desperation at that point.

There was really one possession (#6), that wasn’t thwarted by a mistake on a play that should result in a positive result.  Overall, the inability to pick up consistent rushing yardage in short yardage situation (more on that in a future article) takes away the margin for error because passing has to be much more precise.  The ‘Canes used that margin, and then some.

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