« For UM: Time to Stand and Deliver | Main | 'Canes recruiting update »

Blame game should include assistants, players

UM linebacker Jon Beason is as positive a leader you will ever come across.

Beason Ask him a question that might get him to say something negative about a player, and not only will he avoid it, he'll say something positive. But Saturday, when I interviewed him after UM's 31-7 loss, I could see a different look in his eye. Ditto with defensive tackle Bryan Pata and quarterback Kyle Wright.

While all the focus right now may be on Larry Coker and his leadership and the way the program has fallen from its once immaculate record of 35-3 (from 2001-2003) to 19-8 in its last 27 games, the real blame should fall on the players who aren't standing up and delivering. For all the wrath Coker is getting, the last five recruiting classes that make up this team have all been ranked now lower than 20 by any of the nation's so-called experts. Which means this... somebody on the field is not doing their part.

If you were in the locker room after the game, you could see the leaders of this football team are finally beginning to get tired of losing and are ready to start pointing fingers. And unless the other guys begin to follow, this UM team could either really be in trouble or finally wake up from its slumber.

"Why have you guys lost 4 of your last six?" Pata was asked. "I've got no comment," he responded. "But coach Coker shouldn't be fired. He's not to blame."

Hey, Beason, were you shocked you guys were ready to put them away and they came back on you?

"Football... is not for everybody," Beason as if restraining himself. "If you don't have it in your heart, if your not determined... it's all about what you want. If you don't want to win, it's not going to happen. And that's the attitude everybody in green and orange has to have..."

Hey Kyle, you guys embarrassed?

Wright "It's all nice to go out and jump on somebody's midfield. But if you don't go out there and take care of your business, it's fake hype is what it is. And I'm tired of it. I'm tired of it. Guys want to talk about the U and how much it means to them, and all this swagger this program has. It doesn't mean anything unless you go out and prove it."

UM may not have as many play makers as its had in the past. But Wright, Beason and Pata are no pushovers. They just aren't getting a lot of help. That's a big difference from they don't have any help. While some of the other starters on this team may not be superstars, they certainly aren't performing as well as they can. I don't know if that has as much to do with coaching as it does with their own motivation.

There are basic reasons on the field right now for UM's failure. Some of its the players. Most of it is the coordinators.

It's all starts either way with the offense and the biggest problem -- the offensive line. UM simply cannot handle blitzes, running backs and tight ends included. And right now, everyone is blitzing the Canes with tremendous success. The more UM's offense stinks, the more pressure it puts on this tired defense, which gave way in the second half because (a) they didn't make the necessary adjustments to Louisville's passing game and (b) they have grown tired of UM's offensive woes.

Coker made moves this off-season to fix UM's offensive woes. He brought in "his guys." And if his guys fail, he should be held accountable.

But I think there's no question right now, new offensive coordinator Rich Olson hasn't figured out yet the offense he wants to run simply won't work this season because his quarterback has no time to pass. Olson told us in the preseason the more opponents blitz, the more he'll send out. It's completely backfired on him. UM's running backs cannot handle the blitz. He needs to figure out a way to stop what teams are doing -- which is overloading one side and sending the house, forcing Kyle to throw quickly or -- worse yet -- throw on the run.

All of that is slowing the running game. The only real running back who has the speed to avoid hits in the backfield with that pressure is Javarris James. Charlie Jones, Tyrone Moss and Derron Thomas are good when they have blocking. Right now, they don't. And without a fullback taking on that first linebacker or tackler, the guys who are getting the bulk of the carries (Jones and Moss) have no chance to get more than a yard or two.

Wright is a good quarterback. But he's a pocket passer. And when he is forced to throw on the run, he can't. UM needs to keep more players, perhaps two running backs and a tight end, to block on playaction.

UM's receivers are good. But Darnell Jenkins and Lance Leggett are not ready to assume to role of No. 1 target. The fact this team doesn't have Ryan Moore is hurting them. And the fact no one beyond Sam Shields and Ryan Hill is getting balls thrown their way tells you the backups simply aren't good enough to smell the field. Greg Olsen is a good (not great) tight end. But when he gets double-teamed and bracketed its because his receivers are not opening up the field.

Defensively, UM played great in the first two series. Two sacks, a forced fumble and pressure on Brian Brohm. Then, it all disappeared.

Why? Louisville employed roll outs and misdirection plays. The same thing FSU did in the second half against a UM defense that prides lives off heavy pursuit. How many times did you see Brian Brohm fake a handoff, then roll the other way and hit a wide open receiver? At least six times by my count. Why did that happen? UM was either overly aggressive or someone didn't stay on their coverage assignment.

The few times UM dropped back into coverage, Brohm took off running for a first down. It was the same thing FSU and even FAMU took advantage of.

Also, while Randy Shannon has done a great job with this pass defense the past few seasons, he's taking far too many liberties leaving his young cornerbacks on one-on-one coverage. He doesn't have Antrel Rolle or Jennings out there anymore. All of Louisville's big pass plays were drawn up the same way. Go deep, run a post and beat the corner who has no safety help. Why were there no adjustments? Why on earth did Shannon leave his young corners on an island?

As bad as it all sounds and looks right now, UM fans not should line up to jump off a high-rise yet. This young team has only played three games. And as I said earlier, it now appears the players who lead this team are tired of being a 1-2 team. That's good news if everyone sticks together.

More good news: Houston, North Carolina, FIU and Duke are all teams the Canes can fix their problems with before having to go on the road for the next big one, Georgia Tech. And it is obvious the ACC is winable. Florida State's loss to Clemson, which lost to Boston College, smells of a wacky season in the conference. Which is good news for this team that needs and has the next month to find its identity.

Unless the unity on this team self-destructs, I expect UM to not only win its next four games and find its identity, I can see the Hurricanes bonding together from all this negativity and becoming good enough to win the ACC.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I could not put it better myself. I have changed my mind. I wanted a change right after the game. But now that I have thought about it . We can't do that to this team or to Coach Coker. As a fan for 24 years, I didn't realize how young this team truly is. We will get better. Unfortunately,I don't know if Coach Coker will get to see these players blossom. Thanks for a wonderful editorial.

Manny you are crazy!

This team has no heart.

Probably one of the best post's yet.
I hope your right I really want to see this team and the Program in general succeed under Coker. Hopefully we can work things out in the upcoming chump games. If we can gain some confidence back with a couple of big wins who knows what can happen.
Everyone does need to realize how young this team is & that we cannot play for a Nat.Championship every year.
Keep the faith my fellow CANES.

Manny, great post. I agree with just about everything you said. It is disheartening to watch this team play with no heart the last season and a half (notable exception last year at VTech). Even when we were 5-6 in '97 those guys played their hearts out even if we didnt have the talent back then. I can remember that team taking a ranked VTech to the brink in Blacksburg, winning an unbelievable 2OT game up in BC (i was at that game)...so if this team could show half the desire that shorthanded team had, the 2006 team could run the table. It's wishful thinking.

I'm not sure you're right about the Oline. They protected Wright well on his deep throws, but he's an idiot and can't throw the ball away or make the right read, when the blitz comes.

The function of the QB is to make you pay when you blitz. Wright has shown numerous times that when they pick up the blitz he gets nervous an either throws high or holds onto the ball too long and rarely scrambles to throw the ball away. The Oline gets critized for this but the QB is the one who needs to make a quick read and GET RID OF THE DAMN BALL!!

Furthermore, I think the reason QB's have been decommiting is because of quality QB coaches, we all know how worthless Dan Werner was, Tood Berry isn't doing much to help Wright's development, he still dropps low before he throws, stares down recievers, etc.

Excellent analysis Manny. Truly well thought out.
I have been one of those who have been saying Coker had to go two years ago. I saw it coming in his lack of aggresiveness that has always defined Miami football.
We had Louisville where we could have won starting the third quarter. Instead, we went pure vanilla right up the middle twice and then tried to pass. Of course they were expecting it. Our passing game had been working. Why not do it the old Miami way. 1st and ten, go for the strike. They're expecting run, our guys in the endzone.
One more thought though, I still say Coker's gotta go, but rebuilding is gonna be a 2-3 year grind.

going from a national championship and then just losing one the next year (because you get out-coached) to out of the top 25 in 4 years and 2 games is breathtaking. This program is in deep deep trouble and this team lays down when they get behind - look at the peach bowl last year and the last game.

BTW don't confuse being a realist with being a bad fan. I've been following the canes since the early 50's and this is the biggest fastest fall from grace I've ever seen.

Something is wrong with this team and I think it's the head caoch and now the assistants are pathetic too. taking a timeout on 4th and long when your down 24 points for any reason is moronic!

I feel sorry for the players.

I'm sorry, but I cannot understand how after the past three seasons and the beginning of this one, people still fail to acknowledge the painfully obvious downward decline of this program. When you have recruits saying that it was obvious this team "gave up" in the second half, you know there's a problem. Ironically enough I am one of the most optimistic fans you can find. So much so that I often catch a lot of slack from friends, but we cannot ignore reality anymore.

Don't think Choker doesn't know this program is having its worse slide sans probation. This is why he fired half his staff. Because he knew he had to try to save this sinking ship ASAP. It was his last shot at it, and it does not seem to have worked. The saddest part is that the team seems to have given up on him. Now before you start screaming about Pata's quote, you'll always have loyalty from players, but wether or not you can still pull the fire from them is what tells you if you've lost the team. He has lost this team. In my opinion now is the time to cut our losses and bring in someone that will have at least four months to recruit instead of delaying the inevitable and giving the new coach one month to recruit. The Coker era is over, and it could not have come too soon.

Either way, I will still be at the OB in two weeks just like I have been every home game since 1984. I love this team, this school, and the current state of the program is killing me.

It kills me. So much BS about how the Big East "basketball conference" was going to be an embrassment in football--to the degree that they would lose their bowl slot.

And now we see how "overated" Louisville was!

Miami and FS can be counted on to field very good football teams, but they aren't always great. And hardly ever as great as their thub-thumping fans claim.

Yikes! No intended reflection on Dwyane Wade.That guy is NOT overrated.

Great post

I have a few insights first of all I think the coaches both offense defense special teams all stink. Second of all I think some of the recruits are here for the wrong reasons, Guys like our back up middle lb Bryant should be playing fb alot of other guys have done it. I think we worry to much about 5 stars and stuff like that santana moss our best rec ever was a track guy. Our coaches do not coach miami style in any phase of the game, we always was know for quick strike offense 1 min drives long plays. Special teams we always had great athletes i thin, hester will be last one there for awhile

I am with Mo on this. No one who has been really watching this program over the past several years should be surprised at the current state of affairs. This team has lacked leadership, passion and execution on the field, on the sidelines, in the booth and in the locker room. Nobody has stepped up. Our coaches and our players are curling up into the fetal position in the second half of games. They lose to mediocre teams and get blown off the field by good teams. They are not competing. It is embarrassing. The way this program has been losing games for over 2 years has been unsettling and consistent. How many more losses out of the same mold need be witnessed before it is clear that it is a systemic disease? It's time for a new regime - one that will bring fire, passion, discipline, attitude and creativity. One that will properly and effectively address recruiting needs. One that exudes confidence, not uncertainty and disarray.

Great Post Manny

I haven't been a Miami fan since the 50's or even the 80's, but over the last 10-15 years this team definately has the least heart of any UM team I can remember. This is the biggest issue. You are right about the assistant coaches not getting the job done. Earlier this season people were talking about maybe having randy shannon as head coach. Now I'm hearing people wishing he was gone. He definately has holes in his defense. I think larry coker would be a great assistant coach as he once was. He could play the "good cop" while the head coach was the "bad cop." Most players that are recruited to miami are cocky and confident players. They need some one who will check them at the door. Larry Coker just isn't that. He is a great person and has made big stands for this school, but if they don't win every single game I think he is gone. He knew how the expectations would be when he took the job at the U

Unbelievable what is happening at UM. It is obvious they are no where near where they were. Why not bring back Butch Davis? He could recruit, motivate and definitely coach. We will need something like his hiring to fill up the recruiting pipeline with the kind of players that have made UM the best team in country over the past 20 years.

A lot of great stuff here Canes' fans! Manny, I think you're giving too much credit to the coaches. This may not be the best Miami squad in the last 23 years, but there are enough athletes on this squad to play football with any team in the country. Witness the first halves of both the FSU and Louisville games. Regardless, here's my dos centavos:

Clock management was atrocious in our two losses. Down by 17 at the start of 4Q, the offense was taking its time. They would leisurely huddle, run one up the gut for a couple yards and trot back to the huddle.

While you don't want your guys to panic, it would seem to be the coaches' job to instill a sense of urgency into the team to move quickly, make plays, etc. Helping Louisville run out the clock just didn't seem like such a good idea at the time.

Clock management and play calling falls squarely on the shoulders of Berry and the coaching staff, unless I'm missing something and Kyle's calling his own plays these days.

Also, does anyone have any idea what happens at halftime in the Miami lockerroom? That would seem like an excellent time to make adjustments, suss out what the other squad's strengths and weaknesses are, etc. But that's just me. It's apparent that in several of our recent losses -- how's that for a clause in a sentence describing the Miami Hurricanes football team? -- our guys are not coming out to start the second half with a winning game plan.

I like Larry Coker. I hear he's a nice guy and is popular with the football players. At the time of the Peach Bowl Massacre, I was even willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when he canned five assistant coaches with several national championships between them on their resumes.

However, in retrospect Mr. Coker appears to have been behaving as any politician would -- he was willing to take credit for the work of others, yet he quickly passed the blame on when things went wrong. While it's true that Larry Coker, not Butch Davis, coached the Hurricanes to consecutive National Championships, I don't think I ever heard Coach Coker say that he was fortunate to have inherited an extraordinarily well-run program with some of the finest athletes in college football.

Two teams could not have been more evenly matched than Ohio State and Miami in 2001. Now look at where the two programs are. Is that indicative of anything?

Having said that, Go Canes!


It is better to be feared than loved.

The key to what is being said here is that no adjustments are being made. teams can constantly blitz you and cause problems but adjustments can be made to prevent that. If there are some players who don't have the heart or are unwilling to get the job done, take them out. If there are not enogh players on the team that want to get the job done, yet they are all talented is that a player issue or a coaching issue. My bet is its a coaching issue. As good as this defense has been over the last 5 years because of the talent they have had, they still have not made enough adjustmanets to be the best they can be. How long have teams been running with the QB when Miami drops into coverage and how long is that going to beat us?

Come check out the new canes forum:


The comments to this entry are closed.