Bonanno: Miami Fans Should Give Head Coach Manny Diaz A Chance
By Chris Bonanno // November 2, 2019
Manny Diaz in his first season as Miami Hurricanes head coach
ABOVE VIDEO: Chris Bonanno reports live from Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee after Miami defeated FSU 27-10.
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – Let’s hold off on the avalanche of criticism towards Manny Diaz, ‘Canes Twitter mob.
Diaz, for the third consecutive season, had a prominent coaching role in a Miami victory over Florida State, with Saturday’s edition coming on the road in Tallahassee as the Hurricanes defeated the Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium by a 27-10 score.
And maybe, just maybe Miami’s season is suddenly salvageable too after UM’s win. Heck, they improbably even still remain in the Coastal Division chase despite having three conference losses.
“I thought it was great team ball – offense, defense and special teams,” said Diaz in post-game remarks following his team’s win. “We’re becoming what we thought we could become as a team and to do it a Doak Campbell Stadium, like I said, I couldn’t be more proud.”
Diaz’s abilities from an “X-and-O” perspective can be directly seen in the play of the defense that he helped mold as a coordinator under Mark Richt over the past three seasons.
Following Miami’s loss to Virginia Tech, Diaz assumed more of a hands-on role with the unit. Since that point, the Hurricane defense has been vastly improved, with that being exemplified on Saturday as they held the Seminole offense to a relatively paltry 203 total yards and forced two interceptions while recording nine sacks, four of which came from redshirt freshman defense end Gregory Rosseau.
The hire of offensive coordinator Dan Enos has also been under scrutiny, but Diaz’s judgement in that regard looked better on Saturday, as Enos was able to help guide an offense that didn’t turn the ball over and was generally effective against what is still a talented Florida State defense.
He also did a solid job of working around an offensive line that has struggled, using the quick passing game to mitigate the FSU pass rush and overcome a lack of push from the line in the running game. That a redshirt freshman quarterback (Jarren Williams) was able to go on the road and complete 21-of-37 passes for 313 yards for two touchdowns and no interceptions speaks to his ability to both call plays and develop quarterbacks.
Now, let’s be honest: 5-4 at Miami isn’t close to acceptable, nor are losses at home to Virginia Tech and what, at the time, was a 1-5 Georgia Tech team within a three-game stretch.
But there’s also no denying that the calls by many in the fan base for coach staff changes or even a chance with Diaz himself were premature.
Diaz and his staff have thus had a knack for acquiring talent through the transfer portal such as former Buffalo receiver K.J. Osborn, who’s been Miami’s best receiver this season, and Trevon Hill, a defensive end transfer from Virginia Tech who’s generated pressure.
And although it’s always unofficial until signatures are on paper, Miami’s staff unofficially has put together a very solid 2020 recruiting class thus far.
It doesn’t hurt that Diaz has the support of the players. When Miami dropped to 3-4 and faced two road tests that they would be underdogs in, the players could have folded the tent as criticism rained down upon the team and Diaz’s staff.
Instead, the team, and the defense in particular, rose up and notched impressive road victories at Pitt and Florida State. That says that the players are buying what Diaz and his staff are selling, which is job one when building a successful college football program.
“As far as our team, I think we are starting to find ourselves,” Diaz added.
“I think last week at Pitt was a big, big deal to us in a game that could have gone either way as so many of our games have. These guys love playing with each other, and they love playing together. That’s what they are about. They are really coming together. They are bonding. I’m excited to see what this team looks like as we continue through November.”
An 8-4 record, which would be an improvement over 2018’s 7-5 mark, now looks more possible than ever after Saturday’s win. But even if that doesn’t come to fruition, Diaz and his staff deserve more than two-thirds of a season before they’re judged.
Give Diaz a chance, Miami fans.
ABOVE VIDEO: Florida State Seminoles Football head coach Willie Taggart speaks to the media following FSU’s 27-10 loss to Miami.
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