A Look Back at Why it Happened

The news about Patrick Nix being fired as offensive coordinator at Miami didn't surprise a whole lot of fans when it was announced on Monday night. Lets take a look back at his two-year career at Miami and see what he accomplished -- and what he didn't.

Patrick Nix came to the University of Miami with both head coaching experience (Henderson State) and offensive coordinator experience at a BCS school (Georgia Tech). With the new regime taking over at Miami in 2007, many people were very excited to see what Nix could do with a Miami offense that seemed to have a lot of playmakers on it.

Head coach Randy Shannon talked about how much difficulty it was coaching against Nix's offense at Georgia Tech as being one of the major reasons he brought him in.

Unfortunately for Shannon and the Hurricanes, the Nix-led offenses at Miami didn't seem to give many opposing coaches too many problems. With a pair of senior quarterbacks in 2007, the offensive unit struggled from start to finish. They ended up being ranked 110th, out of 119 Division 1 football teams, in total offense.

In 12 games last season, only three times (against Duke, North Carolina, and N.C. State) did Miami gain more yardage than the opposing team gave up per game last season. Five times in those 12 games, the Canes were unable to manage 100 yards of passing offense -- and that includes a game against N.C. State when Miami completed just one pass. In four of those 12 games, the Canes were unable to manage 100 yards on the ground -- and that included the Virginia Tech game when Miami finished with negative (two) rushing yards.

The Canes averaged 58 yards less per game than what their opponents' defenses were giving up on the season -- a very loud indication of being a very below average offensive unit.

The 2008 season brought a new level of excitement. There was new blood. Two freshman quarterbacks had people around Miami excited. The No. 1 freshman receiver class in the country was coming in. All three tight ends were coming back. Three starting offensive linemen were coming back. Unfortunately for Miami, the excitement didn't last long.

Miami's first five games against Div 1 opponents this season resulted in gaining 94 less yards per game than what their opponents were giving up per game. The offense managed just 12 offensive touchdowns in those first five games and seemed to lack a real identity.

Beginning with the Duke game, things started to turn around a bit. They put up more yards against Duke than their average opponent and the same was true in games against Virginia, Georgia Tech, and N.C. State. In fact, the final seven game stretch in 2008 saw Miami's offense making progress. In those seven games, they averaged 31 more yards per game than their opponents were giving up -- an indication of an above average offensive unit. Only twice was Miami held under 100 yards rushing, compared to four the season before. Only twice was the passing game held to under 100 yards, compared to five times the season before.

There's no question -- Miami's offense was making progress. Unfortunately for Nix, it wasn't improving enough.

There are a lot of freshmen on this team who seem to have big futures at Miami. Jacory Harris is a heady young quarterback who looks like the quarterback of the future at Miami. Many of the young receivers made big impacts for the Canes. In this current recruiting class, the Canes are doing a nice job of loading up on high quality running backs and offensive linemen.

When you look back over the last two seasons and see that Miami ranked near the bottom in total offense both seasons, it makes you wonder how things could get that bad. One of the first places to start, and in Nix's defense, is by looking at the fact that Miami didn't have a single offensive player drafted last season and isn't expected to have anyone drafted off the offense this season. How many teams across college football can say the same thing? While the future looks very bright and filled with talented playmakers, these last two years were tough in more ways than one.

Would Nix have developed an explosive offense for all those young players? Again, we'll never know. How much was he involved, compared to Shannon and the rest of the offensive coaches, in making what appears to be the wrong decision two Augusts in a row when naming the team's starting quarterback? Again, we'll probably never know for sure.

For Patrick Nix, it'll be interesting to see where he ends up. Everything I hear about him from a personal standpoint is great. I'm totally confident that he'll land on his feet somewhere soon and have a chance to be very successful. Where and when remains to be seen. So does the name of Miami's next offensive coordinator.

For Randy Shannon, the big challenge now is getting the right offensive coordinator to get this offense steamrolling in the right direction again.


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