Gridiron Grandmasters Pt. 6: Manny’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde

Written by Spiked Rob

The University of Miami football team has an identity crisis.

The Canes have been consistently inconsistent week in and week out. One game, Miami blew out a hated rival by 42 points. The next game, they lost to a powerhouse by 26. And those were the only two complete games Miami has had this season, good or bad.

In the other six games Miami has played, they have either scored 40+ points and allowed more than 35 at the same time (twice) OR allowed less than 20 and scored less than 31 (thrice).

So, which team will show up this week: the elegant, high-powered offense that scores points in exciting fashion while our defense gives up almost as many points, or the ugly, gutsy defense that grinds it out and stalls both our offense and their offense?

If you recall Miami’s last game that took place eons ago, you’d remember that both sides of Miami’s dual personality appeared, and it was fuckin’ NERVE-WRACKING to watch.

Miami was the #9 team in the nation and a three point underdog against an unranked Virginia Tech. But, the scores at the end of each quarter showed that Vegas was almost right on the money:
1st Quarter – Miami 3, VT 7
2nd Quarter – Miami 13, VT 14
3rd Quarter – Miami 19, VT 24
4th Quarter – Miami 25, VT 24

The funny part is, Miami had plenty of stats for a dominating performance: Rhett Lashlee’s offense ran 85 plays, D’Eriq King had a 63% completion rate with some DIMES, Dee Wiggins had the quietest 100 yard game ever, and all three running backs averaged around four yards per carry; Blake Baker’s(?) defense totaled SIX sacks, a fourth quarter turnover for the second week in a row, and held the Virginia Tech offense to 160 yards rushing, more than 100 yards below their season average.

So how the hell did we win by a point? Chess has an explanation.

In chess, like football, there is a difference between playing better and winning. Chess uses the term “material”, which means the value of the pieces one captures from the other side, which is similar to having good stats in football. Having a material or statistical advantage often creates better chances to win, but you still have to win. In chess, that means checkmate, while in football, that means scoreboard.

Manny Diaz messed up some pretty big decisions against Virginia Tech, calling a fake FG run with Jose Borregales on 4th and 3, as well as trying and failing to convert two 2-point conversions. Still, that just means Miami would have won by 6 instead of 1. Miami’s stats were strong enough to be the basis for a two-score margin of victory and we barely eked out a single possession win with a big defensive stop at the end of the game. Why?

The only conclusion I can come to is a lack of synergy. So far, the only way that the offense can succeed is by getting the ball back quickly to maintain their momentum, usually at the expense of the defense and their poor play. So far, the only way the defense can grind down the the other team is with extensive drives that eat up clock and sputter out, but it leads to our offense doing the same thing. I cannot recall a game (other than FSWho) where our defense gained momentum from an offensive score or where our offense scored off of a defensive turnover/three-and-out. Heck, our offense can’t even score off of a surprise onside kick recovery.

Manny has two coordinators who have shown statistical success at various times throughout the season. Until he figures out how to chain their success together, we will have a true Jekyll and Hyde situation. Since the fictional character was in fact the same person, they could never exist at the same time. Hopefully, Manny has figured out a way during this super-bye period to connect his coordinators’ strategic successes together to have a complete game. Personally, I doubt he has been able to since he had to deal with his own Covid issues. But, there would be no better time to prove me wrong than against a weak team like Duke, who has been outscored in their last two games by a combined 112-57. My money is another high-scoring affair which balances out the (offensive) shootouts and the (defensive) struggles at three apiece for the season. Either way, Canes win again to go to 8-1.

Chess is cool. Go Canes.

About the author

Spiked Rob