Virginia Tech-Miami Review: Hokies Torched For Big Plays

Virginia Tech
The Miami offense torched the Virginia Tech defense through the air. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges) had it right:

Blood in the Air

Miami offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee had the Hokies’ number on Saturday, and usually looked a step or two ahead of what Justin Hamilton was calling in coverage. Things got ugly fast:

This looks like Cover-3 with the zone defenders “matching” or hugging up on the receivers entering their zones. The way the play develops, it ends up being zone to the bottom of the screen, and man at the top. At the bottom, watch safety Tae Daley (#17) drift to the boundary, while Armani Chatman (#27) “zone turns” so that he can read the QB. They’re bracketing the bottom receiver on any deep balls as the play develops. At the top of the screen, Jermaine Waller (#2) doesn’t have any help, so makes a “man turn” to encourage the receiver towards the sideline and away from all the empty grass in the middle of the field. The receiver seems to get some arm extension on the route; the refs never called it, and the Hokies never adjusted to the physical play.

This play didn’t seem to help matters. It’s a big completion as it is, but then Daley flies in, blowing up anything good you can say about the call as the penalty yards are tacked on, and he gets ejected:

The early defensive gameplan seemed intent on containing Mike Harley (#3), and to make this possible by leaving Waller on an island. Something went wrong here:

Miami seems to be expecting Waller to play off and again try to squeeze the receiver to the sideline. The little nod by the receiver breaks into a post, and Waller’s too far away to do much about it. Meanwhile, three guys are on Harley.

The Hurricanes seem to be a step ahead yet again on this split-flow slip swing:

My guess is that they anticipated the corner (Waller) would be running deep, and that whoever was at will linebacker (in this case, Keshon Artis (#15)) would be sucked in by the backfield action. It’s actually worse than that, as Artis doesn’t identify the back leaving. That’s true freshman Breshard Smith (#12) on the catch; he’s been in the backfield some this season already, so this shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise for the Hokies.

It gets worse. This looks like Miami picking on the Hokies’ Match Cover-2:

You can see the safety (Nasir Peoples (#31)) taking off for the hash; combine that with Waller staying low in the flat, and it’s a safe bet they’re playing Cover-2. Peoples matches the #1 receiver deep, while Dax Hollifield (#4) trails him. Keep Dax in mind.