One of the bigger upsets in college football this past Saturday occurred when the Miami Hurricanes were embarrassed by Florida International. Miami came in as a 21-point favorite, yet was shut out by FIU in the first half. Ironically the game was played at the site of the old Orange Bowl, on the 35th anniversary of Doug Flutie‘s Hail Mary. Even more ironic was the opponent’s coach and his ties to the University of Miami. Butch Davis was the architect of Miami’s last national championship team. In addition to that is the proximity of the two schools in Miami-Dade county.
Regardless of the factors, the University of Miami should never lose to Florida International. Especially this season as the Panthers came into the game with five losses and in danger of missing a bowl game. The Hurricanes were coming off of a bye after beating the Louisville Cardinals and scoring over 50 points. So the question looms who does this loss directly fall on?
Who Is To Blame For Miami’s Meltdown Against FIU
No one has been more accountable publicly after the loss than Manny Diaz. He’s admitted fault and put the blame squarely on his self. However that is exactly what a coach is supposed to say after a loss of this magnitude. Especially with a team on a three game winning streak and playing their best football of the season. After beating Florida State and Louisville easily, how does a team fall back to struggling against FIU? Miami has played a weird schedule this season having had three bye weeks, but more alarming is the performance that follows each time.
The Hurricanes had a bye week after the week zero game, and were down 17 points to North Carolina in the first quarter. On Miami’s second bye week after almost losing to Central Michigan, they were down 28 points to Virginia Tech. The Hokies also started a quarterback with zero starts but who was able to carve Miami’s defense. Miami’s first score came on a converted Hail Mary at the end of the second quarter.
Now after the team’s final bye week, they again started slow. The offense was shut out in the first half against an FIU defense that gave up 37 points to Florida Atlantic. Offensively, Jarren Williams regressed tremendously after breaking the school record for touchdowns in a single game against Louisville. He threw three interceptions including one on the first drive after halftime. Offensive coordinator Dan Enos had some very questionable calls on fourth down/ He also seemed reluctant to run the ball although FIU’s rushing defense ranks 114th in the country. Defensively, the Hurricanes rushed three players on third down and sometimes even two players. Miami’s best pass rusher, Greg Rousseau, was spying a quarterback that is a non factor to run the ball.
As much blame as Miami’s coaches deserve, the players deserve an equal amount if not more. The Hurricanes never led at any point on Saturday but judging by the team’s body language you’d never know. Miami’s player consistently made first down gestures, even when down two or even three scores. Players on defense were attempting to engage FIU in talking trash even after blowing their assignment.
Williams struggled reading coverages the entire night and tried to force passes which ended negatively. There was a point in the third quarter where it became visible that Williams did not want to throw the ball. Miami scored 21 points in the fourth quarter but the game had potential to be much worse. The lack of situational awareness or lethargic play doomed the Hurricanes, even after FIU gave them opportunities to change the game.
This is a stain that the Hurricanes will have to carry for a long time. With only one regular season game left no one knows which Hurricanes will show up. The lack of consistency on a week to week basis is the only thing that the Hurricanes has consistently shown. Even after winning three straight games and building a bit of momentum, it seems the Hurricanes have again spiraled back downhill. There are some internal problems that are lingering and Diaz will have to fix it quickly before the bowl game.
Miami FIU Main Photo: MIAMI, FL – NOVEMBER 23: FIU running back Anthony Jones (2) outruns Miami cornerback Al Blades, Jr. (7) and striker Gilbert Frierson (3) at the end of a 37-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter as the FIU Golden Panthers faced the University of Miami Hurricanes on November 23, 2019, at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)