2021 Production Lost – Miami

Next up and last review of Pitt’s 2022 ACC schedule are the Miami Hurricanes.

Miami, like previously reviewed Virginia Tech, Virginia, and Duke, has a new head coach – Mario Cristobal. Cristobal replaces Manny Diaz who was not fired (paid off) until Miami inked Cristobal. I can just hear the Miami AD talking to Diaz. “Manny were looking into hiring a Miami legend to be the new head coach. But we want to have you stay on in case we cannot work out a deal. I will be in touch once we know how the negotiation goes. Bye.”

This is Cristobal third head coaching job. The first was with Florida International for five years (2007 – 2012). He was fired. He spent some time in the rehabilitation program Sabin runs at Alabama. Like a large number of coaches that rehabilitated at the clinic, his stint led to the head coaching job at Oregon before the 2017 season.

In his five seasons, Cristobal was 42 – 18 (27-14 conference, 11-1 OOC, 2-1 C/C, and 2-2 in bowls). His best season was 2019 where he went 12-2, won the C/C and the Rose Bowl. Outside of that season, his teams lost at least two conference games per season and at least three games per season. I believe he underachieved as a HC at Oregon. In my opinion, the PAC-12 is not a strong conference and is below the ACC in strength. Cristobal is known as a recruiter.

Miami’s 2021 results and the 2022 schedule.

Two games of interest to gauge Miami’s progress: 9/17/22 at Texas A&M and 11/19/22 and (the week before the Pitt game) at Clemson.

Here are the Rivals 5.7 and above 2022 commits. Also included are the current Transfer Portal (TP) additions

For an ordinary transitional class, this was a great class. Most transitional classes rankings are below prior team classes. In Miami’s case, the transitional 2022 class recruiting is remarkably similar to the prior two classes.

Miami lost 15 players to the TP. Eight were on the offense and seven on the defense. Since Miami recruits well, they lost (by Rivals) one 5-star, six 4-stars and five 5.7, 3-stars.

To replace those who  were lost to eligibility or the TP, the Canes picked up 11 players from the TP. You may recognize Henry Parrish from Ole’ Miss. The recruiting site 24/7 re-ranks players based on their actual college play. By that standard, Akheem Mesidor from WVU is the best (4-star-0.92 rating). How can WVU fans say their DL is improved compared to last season?

Offensive players accounted for four of the TP haul. The remaining seven are defensive players. Two players from the 2017 recruiting class are for immediate help. The rest are for immediate help or depth but have eligibly running until 2024 (2019 class) and 2025 for the balance. (That is assuming that all 10 redshirted their first season.)

It pays to have NIL money and be in a recruiting hot bed. Of those eleven players, four attended Miami area schools, four more were from Florida high schools, two were from California, and the last one from Utah.

On to the stars identified as NCAA team leaders in selected stats or members of the 2021 All ACC teams. I have added a new stat –  Athlon’s 2022 preseason All ACC Conference’s (four teams). I could only find the four Miami players making Phil Steele first team. There are definitely others on the other three teams.

I have also added those players who made the 2021 Preseason All ACC team. The players who made the All ACC were announced after the ACC Media Days meeting.

The  offense revolves around QB play. I have added sacked and yards lost to the QB chart.

Tyler Van Dyke, the grandson of Dick Van Dyke and Mary TYLER Moore (and you wondered why I brought up the South Carolina tradition of naming grandsons after the mother/grandmother maiden name.) seems to be the real deal.

The backups are Jake Garcia (2021 6.0, 4-star) and Jacurri Brown (2022 5.7, 3-star).

Miami running backs and receivers 2021 activity. Also returning production summary for Pitt and all the ACC opponents.

Miami lost three of their top five rushers and only return a pinch under 58% of production. Parrish who averaged 6.1 yards per attempt will help the Miami rush game. Van Dyke is not a scrambler but can run some. Taking out sacks, he averaged 4.9 yards per rush attempt.

Passing wise, they lost their top two receivers and only return a bit under 52% of their production. TP entry Frank Ladson is not the answer as he was barely used in his three years at Clemson. Miami must be counting on the receivers on the team or the lone 2020 WR recruit to step up to the plate.

What does the Oline stats tell us? I added Pitt allowed sacks and tackles for loss.

They lost two starters to eligibility. Corey Gaynor was a starter (center) before going down with an injury,

Zion Nelson (the bright green high-lite) had knee surgery shortly prior to the start of this year’s summer camp. How long he is out is undetermined or being played close to the vest. I thought HCPN & Pitt were the only ones who did that.

To help fill the gaps created by eligibility and the TP, Cristobal enticed two players from Oregon to follow him to Miami. It helped that one of those transfers played high school ball in Florida.

The Miami Oline had problems with run blocking. TFL’s (adjusted for sacks) amounted to 5.8% of total plays. They were better at pass blocking allowing only 3.4% of total plays.

The Canes offense was 52.8% pass 47.2% run. Adjusted for sacks percentages is in the above chart.

Cristobal, being a lineman during the Miami golden years, is a firm believer in having a strong line and running the ball. The 2021 Oregon Ducks attempted 410 passes and ran the ball 535 times. That is a 43.4% pass, 56.6% run ratio. The 24 sacks Oregon allowed was only 2.5%. How does Van Dyke fit into Cristobal’s preferred offense?

On to the defensive review.

Miami had 49 players make a defensive stat. But twelve of them were offensive players. Two were special teams player. That leaves 35 defensive players making a stat.

The chart below strips out the non-defensive players and ten players who did not make at least ten tackles.

The below chart includes 25 players- thirteen DB’s, nine DL’s and three LB’s making up (and I mean made up) a “10 tackles two deep.” I did not have to lower my goal of ten tackles to make a “two deep.”

I also added a “HAVOC Rate” at the end of the chart. Havoc rate is just the sum of defensive disruptive plays (TFL’s, Interceptions, Pass Break Ups (PBU or PD), and Forced Fumbles (FF) divided by opponent(s) total plays. It is a gauge of how well a team’s defense performs.

Pitt’s havoc rate was particularly good at 18.3%. I looked at all teams in the ACC, the NCAA top five defensive teams (based on total defense) and the three CFP teams not in the top five. Pitt was fifth best of those 22 teams. Pitt was first in the ACC. Miami was tied for sixth with Louisville

Overall, Miami returns a smidgen over 70%. The defensive hole is in the DLine with  a tad over 50% returning. Hence the five DLinemen retrieved from the TP.

To help put all of the defensive data into perspective, here are Duke’s 2021 NCAA defensive stats.

I give Miami’s 2021 defense a C Minus grade. Probably does not matter with a new HC and defensive coordinator.

I got some of my talking points from this article in SBNations “State of the U” blog. Link below:

6 major storylines for the ‘Canes 2022 season – State of The U

This game could be for the Coastal crown. Miami plays Clemson and a in-state rivalry game with Florida State. I have Pitt at 7-0 entering this game. I have Miami winning the game. I got the hype fever.

I enjoyed this series of articles. My hope is that you also enjoyed them and learned something about our opponents.

2021 Production Lost – Duke

Next up on Pitt’s ACC schedule are the Duke Blue Devils.

Duke, like previously reviewed Virginia Tech and Virginia, has a new head coach – Mike Elko. After a mutually agreed parting of way, Elko replaces David Cutcliffe who had guided the Blue Devils for the prior fourteen seasons.

Elko was a long time defensive coordinator – thirteen years. He spent nine years with Dave Clawson, first at Bowling Green and then Wake Forest before moving on. Here are his stats from Wikipedia:

Good years (4), a few bad years(3) but mainly B results (based on total defense). My favorite take away from above is that school names get progressive smaller.

What was one of the first thing HCME did to improve his squad? Link to an article on food:

Mike Elko: Duke football rebuild starts with improving the food (fayobserver.com)

Duke’s 2021 results and the 2022 schedule.

Another ACC team playing two P5 teams. At least they scheduled teams that they have a shot at winning. With those P5 teams away games, Duke football faithful are looking forward to seeing Temple and North Carolina A&T in action.

Here are the Rivals 5.7 and above 2022 commits. Also included are the current Transfer Portal (TP) additions.

Surprising to me, the 2022 class was the best recruiting class since 2018 (one 5.8, 4-star, four 5.7 3-stars). Only one of the 5.7’s is still on the 2022 Duke roster and he was not on the roster in 2021 but is back for ‘22. Grades? I have no idea why.

I might as well get this over with – Duke is a BASKETBALL school. I usually start my research with the SBNation communities site. Link:

SBNation.com Communities

Some of the sites are very robust in their articles and I learn from their reporting and the comment section. If a site is like Cardiac Hill (I hate to knock a now defunct competitor), I try to find alternatives. Duke’s SBN site is all basketball. Alternative sites are all basketball.

To tell the truth, I have learned more about Duke football by reading their athletic department’s football page.

Duke lost thirteen players to the TP. Eight of them were defensive players (six DB’s, two DL’s). There were five offensive players (two WR’s, and one each RB, OL and their starting QB).

Duke plucked eight from the TP. There on offense. All play the OL. Four play defense – a DL, a LB and two DB’s. The eight player is a long snapper.

What is interesting is that half of the players are from FCS teams. That is nearly a quarter of the 17 FCS players that ACC teams picked up from the Portal. In total, the Ivy league provided eight of the seventeen.

On to the stars identified as NCAA team leaders in selected stats or members of the 2021 All ACC teams. I have added a new stat –  Athlon’s 2022 preseason All ACC Conference’s (four teams). I could not find any mention of Duke players making a Phil Steele team.

There almost certainly was two or more on Steele’s teams but Duke only brags about their basketball players.

The  offense revolves around QB play. I have added sacked and yards lost to the QB chart.

Gunnar Holmberg is gone. He entered the TP. Luca Diamond is making the transition to a fulltime WR.

That leads to a QB competition between Riley Leonard (2021 Rivals 5.7, 3-star) and Jordan Moore (2021 Rivals 5.5, 3-star). 2022 Rivals 5.5, 3-star Henry Belin, Jr. is waiting in the wings.

So far, I do not have a warm and fuzzy feeling about Duke’s offense.

Blue Devil running backs and receivers 2021 activity. Also returning production summary for Pitt, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Louisville, UNC, Syracuse, Virginia, and Duke.

The loss of Mataeo Durant (2022 UDFA – Steelers) and leading receiver Jake Bobo (TP – UCLA) has put a big dent in returning production. Only Georgia Tech has ben hurt more than Duke.

Duke did have a wide variety of players running and catching the ball. But that is what happens when you lose all eight ACC games by an average of 31.75 points.

But that variety of players leads to some hope for a run/pass offense. Moore (the QB) had more rush attempts and yardage than pass attempts and yardage. Leonard (the other QB) had more pass attempts/yardage then he had as a rusher.

What does the Oline stats tell us? I added Pitt allowed sacks and tackles for loss.

Duke’s Oline was good in protecting the QB. Not so good at opening holes for the RB’s. Was it because opponents sold out to stop the run?

Duke returns four starters and two with limited (one game) starting experience. Based on that, Duke Oline is a strength.

Do you have any idea why Duke average plays per game (77.8) led the ACC? Wake was close at 77.4 per game. Pitt was third at 76.4.

On to the defensive review.

Duke had 51 players make a defensive stat. But nine of them were offensive players. Three were special teams player. That leaves 39 defensive players making a stat.

The chart below strips out the non-defensive players and fifteen players who did not make at least ten tackles.

The below chart includes 24 players- eleven DB’s, nine DL’s and four LB’s making up (and I mean made up) a “10 tackles two deep.” I did not have to lower my goal of ten tackles to make a “two deep.”

Using the column “Tot”(al Tackles) Duke’s returning defensive production was at 68.3%.

To help put all of the defensive data into perspective, here are Duke’s 2021 NCAA defensive stats.

I give the Blue Devils defensive stats a solid F. Duke has more returning production then Pitt but it will be nearly impossible to move the defensive into C territory.

It is my opinion that Duke will match last year’s 3 – 9 record. It could be 4 – 8 if Northwestern is still in rebuilding mode.

Pitt wins. If you are keeping track, that makes my preseason predictions 10 – 1.

2021 Production Loss – Virginia

Next up on Pitt’s ACC schedule are the Virginia Cavaliers.

But first a POV public service announcement. Do not forget the FrankCan POV golf gathering. Link for article with details below.

FrankCam Cup Golf Announcement (pittpov.com)

Still spelled wrong in the linked title.

Virginia has a new head coach. After the abrupt and unexpected resignation of Bronco Mendenhall, the Wahoos hired ex Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott. This will be his first season as a head coach. He has hired Desmond Kitchens (Atlanta Falcons) as his offensive coordinator and John Rudzinski (Air Force Falcons) as his defensive coordinator. What, no Bowling Green Falcons coaches available?

At Air Force, Rudzinski lead a defense that finished as the 2021 # 4 FBS team in total defense allowing on average 296.5 yards per game.

Kitchens has mainly been a position coach. He was the offensive coordinator at both Vanderbilt and NC State but only for one season at each team. Since Elliot called plays at Clemson, I believe Kitchens is what his title is and is not responsible for play calling.

Virginia’s 2021 results and the 2022 schedule.

Nothing unusual on the schedule except for having the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers during the annual SoCon weekend. Do they not realize that is the weekend you schedule your FCS opponent or at least Old Dominion before a Thanksgiving rivalry game?

Here are the Rivals 5.6 and above 2022 commits. Also included are the current Transfer Portal (TP) additions.

Virginia under Mendenhall was not a recruiting powerhouse. Mendenhall’s best class was the 2021 class. It featured three 5.8, 4-stars and two 5.7, 3-stars. The 2021 class was the second recruiting class after the 2019 Coastal division championship. One of the ’21 5.7’s entered the TP (to LSU) this year.

As an aside, Mendenhall’s highest ranked commitment was a 6.0, 4-star OT in the 2020 class. He never signed as he took a two year hiatus to do a missionary stint. Upon learning of Mendenhall’s resignation, he ended up committing to Michigan.

Maize&BlueReview – The improbable story of how Michigan landed 4-star OT Andrew Gentry (rivals.com)

Speaking of the TP, the Cav’s lost 19 players to the TP – eleven from the offense, eight on the defense. The latest TP entry was 6/10/22. Look for a lot of light blue (eligibility) and pink (TP entry) in the charts.

Head Coach Tony Elliot, during the ACC media days, admits he did not do an excellent job of selling his vision to the departed. He was able to talk two players into returning.

Virginia, to staunch those losses, added eight from the TP. Four each on offense (WR, RB and two OLinemen), and defense ( All DL). Three of the pickups were from FCS schools. Only one is in the final year of eligibility.

On to the stars identified as NCAA team leaders in selected stats or members of the 2021 All ACC teams. I have added a new stat –  Athlon’s 2022 preseason All ACC Conference’s (four teams). I only found two players on the Phil Steele All ACC team by reading the Virginia athletic department site (for Non-Phil Steele watch list articles).

Most of the Hoos star players are back, but if you look you can see the start of lost production.

The  offense revolves around QB play. I have added sacked and yards lost to the QB chart. I also added Kenny Pickett’s stats for comparison.

Armstrong is one of the top returning QB’s in the ACC and FBS football.

Wahoo running backs and receivers 2021 activity. Also returning production summary for Pitt, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Louisville, UNC, Syracuse, and Virginia.

Virginia only lost around a third of their skilled players production. The starting WR group is intact. They will miss starting TE Jelani Woods. His backup will have to produce.

WR Wicks is one of the three best returning receivers in the ACC. Even if the media covering the ACC media days did not vote for him. (Flowers BC, A.T Perry Wake, and Josh Downs UNC).

The RB group leading returning rushers are QB Armstrong and “Football Player” Keyteon Thompson. Virginia does have experienced backups. I expect new HC Tony Elliott will want a more robust rush game. The prior offensive coordinator makes Whipple look likes he actually believed and used a robust rush attack.

After all that, it seems like the Virginia offense will keep rocking. But we need to review the third leg of the stool – the Oline.

What does the Oline stats tell us? I added Pitt allowed sacks and tackles for loss.

I hope you see the problem. The Wahoos need to totally rebuild their Oline. I believe it was the Oline that HCTE was referring to in not selling his vision.

Only one player with two starts return and limited game experience of the balance. They did pickup two FCS OLinemen from the TP. The Dartmouth player was All Ivy. The Lehigh player started and was a Rivals 5.6, 3-star.

Last year Virginia’s Oline allowed 71 TFL’s (NCAA #73). They gave up 40 sacks (#119). There is a comparison to Pitt near the bottom of the above chart.

At the bottom of the chart is a Pass/Run/(Sacks) percentage of plays.

Pitt will have this problem next year but that is a next year known problem. This year it could be a lot harder for Armstrong to put up the stats he did during the ’21 season.

On to the defensive review.

Virginia had 49 players make a defensive stat. But twelve of them were offensive players. Three were special teams player. That leaves 34 defensive players making a stat.

The chart below strips out the non-defensive players and eleven players who did not make at least four or more tackles.

The below chart includes 24 players- ten DB’s, six DL’s and eight LB’s making up (and I mean made up) a “4 tackles two deep.” I did lower my goal of ten tackles to four to make a “two deep.”

Using the column “Tot”(al Tackles) Virginia’s returning defensive production was at 56.9%. Of the ten P5 Pitt opponents, the Virginia returning production is the fourth lowest. Only Louisville (55.5%), GT (43.2%) and WVCC (34.7%) are lower.

To help put all of the defensive data into perspective, here are the Virginia 2021 NCAA defensive stats.

I give Virginia’s 2021 defense a “D”.

Virginia will have a solid passing attack. Will the Oline be serviceable enough to protect Armstrong and improve the rushing offense? Will the defense make a leap forward? They may but I have this game as a Pitt win.

2021 Production Lost – Syracuse

Next up on Pitt’s ACC schedule are the Syracuse Orange.

Dino Babers leads the Orange for his seventh consecutive year. In the previous six years, he is 29 – 43 (15-35 conference, 13-8 OOC, 1-0 bowls). He had one shining moment, the truly unexpected 2018 10-3 season.

Syracuse’s 2021 results and the 2022 schedule.

After a bye, Cuse plays NC State, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Pitt. Will this stretch of games be the last nail in Babers career at Syracuse?

Here are the Rivals 5.6 and above 2022 commits. Also included are the current Transfer Portal (TP) additions.

I think we are all aware of the recruiting difficulties Syracuse faces. I expected a recruiting bump after the 2018 season. I was naïve in believing the bump occurred immediately. It does not. The bump occurs in the second recruiting class. In Syracuse’s case, it should have occurred for the 2020 class. Pitt’s bump should occur with the 2024 class. But that is if the team does not revert to past means. Syracuse did by following up their breakout year with a 5-7 season. If Pitt wins seven or less in 2022, they will not have that bump.

Eight TP entries. Three on defense. All DB’s. Five offense players. One RB. Two WR’s and Two QB’s. Except for the Rutgers’s CB transfer, all TP entries have two or more years of eligibility.

Syracuse has lost 17 players to the TP. That includes one player who entered the TP on 6/16/2022. Last day for 2022 eligibility was 5/1.

On to the stars identified as NCAA team leaders in selected stats or members of the 2021 All ACC teams. I have added a new stat –  Athlon’s 2022 preseason All ACC Conference’s (four teams). I do not have Phil Steele’s All ACC selections. But a Cuse site named the nine players selected.

The  offense revolves around QB play. I have added sacked and yards lost to the QB chart.

What can I say about the Orange QB play? The passing game needs improvement. If you cannot get a QB by recruiting, you turn to the TP. Both TP QB’s have eligibility through the 2025 season. One of them will be the backup this year.

I am sad that I will no longer be able to refer to Tommy DeVito as being Danny DeVito’s grandson. He was a gamer. Took a beating but always came back for more.

The Orange running backs and receivers 2021 activity. Also returning production summary for Pitt, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Louisville, UNC, and Syracuse.

Cuse has claimed the highest returning production of any reviewed ACC Pitt opponents.

The running game was Syracuse’s offense. The rushing attack was led by a nationally unappreciated Sean Tucker and QB Garrett Schrader.

Syracuse did have a passing game but I believe it was an afterthought.

No matter what, they are returning their top producers.

What does the Oline stats tell us? I added Pitt allowed sacks and tackles for loss.

In the UNC review, I described the Tar Heel Oline as being “just horrendous” in allowing 10.5% of all offensive plays resulting in lost yardage. The Orange Oline is slightly less horrendous with only 9.6% of plays result in loss yardage.

The good news is that the Cuse only lost one starter to eligibility. They also have six players returning with at least five starts. They will have experience. Injuries during the season may be a problem as actual game experience beyond the starters is limited.

On to the defensive review.

Syracuse had 40 players make a defensive stat. But ten of them were offense players. One was special teams player. That leaves 29 defensive players making a stat.

The chart below strips out the non-defensive players and eleven players who did not make at least six or more tackles.

The below chart includes 23 players- ten DB’s, nine DL’s and four LB’s making up (and I mean made up) a “10 tackles two deep.” I did lower my goal of ten tackles to six to make a “two deep.”

Defense is the heart and soul of the Syracuse team.

The total overall returning production is normal but the DL is decimated. Five of the top six tacklers are gone. Depth is such a problem that Jeff Hough (2021 RB recruit from Beaver Falls) is supposedly making the switch to the defensive line.

Get to Know Your Syracuse Orange Man: #29, DL Josh Hough – Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician (nunesmagician.com)

Plenty of solid players returning on the other units. Williams and Chestnut have pro potential as does Jones, Thompson, and Wax in the LB unit.

Babers is an offensive minded coach but Syracuse struggles in his specialty. But he is able to recruit lower ranked defensive players and coach them up. Kudos to him and his defensive staff.

To help put all of the defensive data into perspective, here are the Syracuse 2021 NCAA defensive stats.

Syracuse did not have a bad defense. I gave them a C+ but they were only one point away from a B . I really need to spend some time refining my down and dirty formula.

At the beginning of this article, I questioned if the rough stretch of late season games would seal Babers fate. Last season, he had three cracks at winning one game to be bowl eligible. Even with a bye preceding that final stretch, Cuse lost all three. Babers may have another year if his team is bowl eligible. Pitt will not be one of those teams leading to bowl eligibility.

I am now at 8-1 in predicting games based on these reviews. The Vegas line is 8.5 wins. Besides celebrating my birthday, I will be laying some money on the over when I am at my favorite local casino for 3 days/nights starting 7/31.