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Just The Sports: University of Miami Football

Just The Sports

Monday, October 02, 2006

University of Miami Football

The decline of the University of Miami football team is obvious to anyone who sits and watches college football games week in and week out and some of what I write in this post will not be anything new to the ardent college football fan, but even you may be surprised at some of the findings because there are similarities between Butch Davis's six years as the head coach for Miami and Larry Coker's time as the head coach, from 2001 to the nailbiter victory over college football powerhouse, the University of Houston.

Those who read my offensive coordinator post will already be familiar with the methods I used to see if there was a big difference between Davis's Miami teams and Coker's Miami teams. Overall, though, there is no statistically significant difference between the two coach's offenses. In fact, completion percentage, yards per pass attempt, yards per catch, and average completions are identical for the two eras. Passing yards per game and yards per rush are very nearly identical. So, what exactly is the problem with Miami's offense?

As I mentioned earlier, the answer is simple and probably already known to you. The problem has been the direction of Miami's scoring prowess under Larry Coker compared to when Butch Davis was roaming the sidelines before leaving to lose with the Cleveland Browns. Under Davis, Miami's average points per game did not increase linearly over the six years. Instead, the scoring averages acted more like a roller coaster, increasing then decreasing then increasing then decreasing then increasing. Even though it went up and down, the decreases were never are large as the following increases so in the end, Miami averaged 42.2 points per game in 2000 compared to 26.7 in 1995.

Miami's scoring has been largely linear except for one blip on the radar from 2003 to 3004 and that line has been straight down into mediocrity. In Coker's first year, Miami averaged 42.7 points per game, last year they averaged 27.1 points per game, and so far this year they are averaging 20.5 points per game, a decline steep enough to put any coach's job security into question.

As for the defense, there are statistically significant differences (pass completions, passing yards, points per game, yards per pass attempt, and completion percentage) between the two eras and the difference all favor Miami's defenses under Larry Coker so the defenses have not been to blame for the decline unless they continue on the path they are on in 2006. Four games into this season, quarterbacks are completing 59.2% of their passes and averaging 202.0 yards per game with 8.2 yards per pass attempt.

The completion percentage is the highest Miami defenses have allowed since 1997 when they were 5-6 and having to deal with having numerous scholarships taken away thanks to an NCAA infraction, the average passing yards is the highest since 2000, and the yards per pass attempt is the highest of any Coker or Davis-led team. Since these games account for only one-third of the season, there is still a lot of time to turn that around, especially since they only have a couple games against veteran successful quarterbacks left.

Still, it will be the offense that will need to improve the most if Coker wants to reverse the current trend of his teams.


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