What You Need To Know About The Miami Defense
– The Miami defense was supposed to be fantastic, and it turned out to be a whole lot of fun. The intensity of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz popped through as the D made the Turnover Chain a national thing, leading the ACC and finishing third in the country with 31 takeaways.
However, the defense wasn’t a rock. It could be run on, and it caught a break by not facing too many quarterbacks who could throw a forward pass. When the takeaways stopped – with just one against Georgia Tech and in each of the losses to Clemson and Wisconsin – there were issues. However …
– The nation’s best pass rush kept the pressure on, and it’ll do it again. The defensive front that helped the Canes finish with 44 sacks loses Trent Harris and Chad Thomas, but the line is still loaded. Joe Jackson will be one of the best ends in college football, and after missing all of last year, former Florida transfer Gerald Willis should be a dominant playmaker on the interior.
– The linebacking corps is going into its third year of being amazing. Shaquille Quarterman has been amazing in his first two seasons in the middle, and he’ll be flanked again by Michael Pinkney and Zach McCloud – good luck finding too many – if any – better linebacking corps in the country.
Ramp the aggressiveness up a few notches with the new hybrid Striker position, putting safeties into an occasional linebacking role to add even more speed to the equation. As if the Hurricane defense wasn’t nasty enough.
All four starters are back in the secondary – it has extra talents to spare. Leading tackler and Turnover Chain playmaker extraordinaire Jaquan Johnson leads the way at one safety spot, but the other three veterans have all-star upside, too.
Biggest Key To The Miami Defense
Be better against the good passers. The pass rush will be there throughout the season, and the secondary is loaded – but both areas were dominant last year, too. However, in the three losses late in the season to Pitt, Clemson and Wisconsin, the D generated a grand total of zero interceptions and was picked clean in key spots.
All of a sudden, Ben DiNucci became the next Dan Marino in Pitt’s win; Clemson’s Kelly Bryant wore the Hurricane defense as a hat; and Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook – who never met an interception he didn’t like to throw – was firing darts in the Orange Bowl victory.
Throw in the scary start to Virginia’s Kurt Benkert and the big day by Toledo’s Logan Woodside, and for all of the positives, the Miami pass defense had its issues.