Manny Diaz: Fourth and 17 could haunt Miami football all year

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA -(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA -(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Fourth and 17. Stop North Carolina on that fourth-down play and the Miami football team gets their first win of the season. The Tar Heels converted and subsequently scored the game-winning touchdown.

Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz said during his weekly appearance on the Joe Rose Morning Show on 560 The Joe that the failure for the defense of the Miami football team to stop North Carolina on fourth and 17 late in the fourth quarter will be a play Miami thinks about all year. It could keep Miami from winning the coastal.

The Miami football team now has to win out to hope for a tie with North Carolina and a team the Hurricanes defeat to beat the Tar Heels. Otherwise, North Carolina has to lose once more than Miami in conference play. Both teams have non-conference games this weekend. Miami has its home opener against Bethune-Cookman.

North Carolina has the oddly scheduled non-conference game against fellow ACC member Wake Forest. What used to be a big in-state rivalry is now only part of the rotation in crossover ACC games. The Demon Deacons and Tar Heels meet only twice every seven years. The schools decided that was not enough.

The game against Bethune-Cookman is the beginning of a five-game homestand for Miami over the next six weeks. They leave Florida only once between now and November 30. The Hurricanes play at Pittsburgh October 26. Miami finishes the season November 30 at Duke. Diaz was succinct about the fourth and 17.

"“That’s one that you’ll think about all year…Getting a fourth-and-17 against our defense, it should be lights out. Well, we played the play very poorly…We had a pressure called, and No. 1, we didn’t execute the pressure up front the way we wanted. It was a pressure that sacked the quarterback earlier in the game.And then from a coverage standpoint, the way that we’re designed to match up on the routes, we didn’t match up on the routes very well. The time that the quarterback had to throw the football contributed to the — it was one of those where, on all levels, we didn’t play the play very well.”"

Giving up long pass plays has been a problem for the defense for the Miami football team this season. The Hurricanes led the country in pass defense in 2018 by more than 10 yards per game. The longest play they allowed was 48 yards last season. They have allowed three plays over 60 yards in 2019.

Miami is 92nd in pass plays allowed over 10 yards, 62nd in plays over 20, 115th in plays over 30, 117th in plays over 40, 129th and tied for last with Boise State with three pass plays allowed over 50 and the only team nationally as the only team with three plays allowed over 60.

Miami Hurricanes Football
Miami Hurricanes Football /

Miami Hurricanes Football

Colorado and ironically Diaz’s former employer Middle Tennessee State are the other teams have allowed two pass plays over 60 yards. Miami has to get the secondary figured out. Losing cornerback Michael Jackson and safeties Sheldrick Redwine and Jaquan Johnson have had a bigger impact than anticipated.

Manny Diaz: Fourth and 17 could haunt Miami football all year defensive coordinator Blake Baker discussed in his weekly press conference what happened on the breakdown in the secondary on fourth and 17.

Baker also mentioned that sophomore safety Gurvan Hall who is one of the new starters in the secondary did not have his best game.

Miami lost Junior Amari Carter to an ejection. Carter was ejected for targeting early in the game. He was replaced by Robert Knowles. Carter’s ejection left the Miami football team with two safeties. Freshman Keontra Smith did not travel to Chapel Hill and redshirt sophomore transfer Bubba Bolden has not gained eligibility yet.

"“The bottom line is we didn’t execute the call…I don’t want to go into specifics of it as far as who was supposed to do what, but we watched it as a defense last night and, if we execute the call, it probably ends a little bit differently. But that’s part of it, and that’s part of coaching.That’s something that I got to do a better job with in making sure that our players know how to execute every single call. As coordinator, I own that. So we got to move on from it. There’s still a lot of ball left to be played. At the end of the day, 11 guys got to be on the same page, and we’ll be as good as we want to be.“(Hall) He didn’t play his best game…He’s going to continue to get better, and I know he’s beat up after this game. I thought Rob Knowles came in and did a great job. It hurts losing Amari, even though he hadn’t played a lot of football, brings a calmness to the secondary.I would say he is a leader back there, but I would say the same thing about Rob.”"

Now the Miami secondary has to regroup. The next two games against Bethune-Cookman and Central Michigan are not going to tell us much. Bethune-Cookman is a slightly above average FCS school.

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Central Michigan won their opener against FCS Albany before losing to Wisconsin 61-0 last week. The Chippewas are coached by former Florida coach Jim McIlwain.