The Hurricanes are coming off of an 8-3 season, losing the final two games of the season. Although Miami returns 19 of 22 starters from last year’s team, there is plenty of change on the defensive side. Head coach Manny Diaz will take back the playcalling duties on defense. One of the clear priorities of the defense will be returning to a team that stops the run. Last season, Miami slipped down to 76th overall in rush defense allowing over 174 yards per game.
We covered Miami’s defensive end situation, now we cover the tackle position. In order for Miami to get back to being a top unit defensively, the tackle position has to dominate. The Hurricanes return some veterans that they will be heavily dependent on this upcoming season.
Miami Defense In Need of Big Season From Defensive Tackles
Return To Roots
When Diaz initially took the reigns of Miami’s defense, the position that seemed to benefit the most was the defensive tackle position. The move to back to a four-down defensive lineman allowed one of the linemen to play one-on-one. This resulted in a resurgent Hurricanes defense that turned out in All-American in Gerald Willis in 2018.
However, last season the play diminished, especially in Miami’s most important games. On three different occasions Miami’s defense allowed over 200 yards rushing, the Hurricanes lost two of those three games. In a critical game with a berth in the Orange Bowl on the line, Miami allowed a school-record against UNC. Albeit, the Hurricanes were missing certain coaches due to Covid but the result remains the same. If Miami plans to win more games, the run defense has to improve.
The Right Mix
The Hurricanes return a good mix of young players and veterans this season in the defensive tackle unit. Repeat junior Nesta Silvera is the returning leader and will look to build off last season in which he garnered All-ACC honors. Behind Silvera, the next most productive defensive tackle is redshirt freshman Jared Harrison-Hunte. In his first season of action, he recorded three sacks and six tackles for loss as a rotation player. There is real optimism behind Hunte that he could leave Miami as a top draft pick once he develops.
Miami hopes that their veteran returners Jordan Miller and Jon Ford both have a breakthrough season. Both of the players have starting experience and are good rotational pieces. However this season, Miami needs more production from each to maximize their combination of size and experience. Miller has reworked his frame since getting on campus and is a stout 6’4 320 pounds. While Ford tips the scales at 6’5 315 pounds. If these two cannot take their games to the next level, look for freshman Leonard Taylor to step up. The true freshman steps on campus at Miami being a consensus five star and a high school All-American. Regardless of his ranking, he will have to prove his ability on the college level yet he has the quickness that Miami covets at the position.