The Miami Hurricanes are having an awfully hard time scoring points.
But they’re doing pretty well preventing them.
Credit Canes defensive coordinator Manny Diaz for another impressive job this season, despite the overall slide of consecutive losses to Virginia, Boston College and most recently, Duke.
Diaz was one of 53 assistant coaches nominated for the Broyles Award on Wednesday for the third year in a row. The award goes to the top assistant coach in college football. Last season, Diaz was one of 15 semifinalists.
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UM (5-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) travels to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech (5-4, 3-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday. Both teams are one victory shy of qualifying for a bowl game.
The Canes’ scoring defense is 19th out of 129 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, allowing 19.3 points a game. In the past three losses, UM has held Virginia to 16 points Boston College to 27 and Duke to 20.
Miami’s offense, however, is ranked 77th overall — especially poor in the passing game (101st nationally, averaging 193.2 yards a game).
Diaz still has Miami first nationally in tackles for loss (10. 4 average), first in third-down conversion percentage (22 percent), second in total defense (264.7 yards allowed), second in passing yards allowed (141.1), seventh in passes intercepted(13), 13th in turnovers gained (19), 16th in sacks (average of three a game) and 23rd in rushing defense (123.6 yards).
Here’s some of what Diaz said during his availability earlier this week, before he was nominated:
▪ On fans ‘saying the sky is falling’ since the losing streak:
“I wouldn’t have a way to quantify that. What I know is this, I know we have to play better. Right? Everyone should be angry. What happened last Saturday is wrong. And we’ve got to fix it. To me, we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get playing better. And to me that’s all that matters.”
▪ On players calling players-only meetings:
“There’s been some of that. Sometimes that works. Sometimes that’s sort of Hollywood. Ultimately that is what it comes down to — the accountability falls first on us as coaches and secondly it falls on those guys to play. That’s why the message never changes...To wear a U on the side of your helmet, there’s a lot that comes with that. To wear The U on your coaching shirt, there’s a lot that comes with that. There’s a standard you have to play to. What happens is when things start going bad — I’m talking about us on the inside — we start looking for all these other things we want to blame and not us. Ultimately, everyone has to feel that personal accountability that we all individually have to get better.”
▪ On how different the early signing period (Dec. 19-21) makes it tougher to take away from disappointing performances because they’re still fresh in recruits’ minds:
“Well, it’s funny we all overvalue our own importance because its just where we live. But if you think about how many people in America are disappointed with how their season is going, its kind of remarkable. There’s really not that many people that have met their expectations. That’s why they’re called expectations.
“Are the kids really weighing all that? Do they hear the negativity more where they live? There’s no question. There’s a lot of schools we’re recruiting against that are all very disappointed in the way that they’re playing. But we’re not in their echo chamber. So, I think sometimes as a adults we overstress of importance of the short term results in terms of what’s going on with these guys. I think the kids are buying into the future of the program. They’re buying into where they fit in the program and they’re buying into the people in the program.”