Last Wednesday I looked at Miami’s rush defense this season and how it has performed compared to years past. I found the rush defense was off to its worst statistical performance since the 1995 season. After Saturday’s win over Bethune-Cookman, the distinction remains.
Miami has allowed 809 rushing yards through four games and ranks 104th in the country in rushing defense. Not since 1995 when Miami gave up a combined 955 yards rushing to UCLA, Florida A&M, Virginia Tech and Florida State has the Hurricanes rushing defense gotten off to a worst statistical start.
As I wrote last week, that doesn’t mean this is the worst Miami front of the last 15 or so years. There’s plenty of talent along the line of scrimmage and at the second level to turn things around, but for now the dubious distinction has this year’s defense playing unlike the famed lockdown Hurricanes defenses of the past.
There are plenty of factors at work that could contribute to why opposing teams accumulated more rushing yards one year than they did the next. For one, Miami has now faced two teams, Kansas State and Bethune-Cookman, who like to run the football. It’s also hard to say exactly what in each game led teams to run the ball more or less.
But when it comes down to it, a good defense steps up; and given what’s coming next, Miami has to shore up against the run if they hope to win the ACC Coastal.
Each of Miami’s next four opponents—Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia—average at least 175 yards on the ground, and the Yellow Jackets lead the country with 378.2 yards per game. The defense will face some prolific running backs over the stretch starting with Hokies running back David Wilson, who is seventh in the country with 127.8 yards per game. Tar Heels running back Giovani Bernard ranks 19th with 109.6 yards per game. Seven Yellow Jackets have so far eclipses 100 yards on the season with running back Orwin Smith leading the way at 423 yards and seven touchdowns.
All four upcoming opponents are ACC rivals, making stopping the run even more a concern.
2011: 809 total yards–Maryland, 151 yards; Ohio State, 174; Kansas state, 265; Bethune-Cookman, 219
2010: 523–Florida A&M, 52; Ohio State, 181; Pittsburgh, 128; Clemson, 162
2009: 630–Florida State, 110; Georgia Tech, 95; Virginia Tech, 272; Oklahoma, 153
2008: 260–Charleston Southern, 49; Florida, 89; Texas A&M, 87; North Carolina, 35
2007: 424–Marshall, 51; Oklahoma, 116; FIU, 159; Texas A&M, 98
2006: 258–Florida State, 1; Florida A&M, 82; Louisville, 95; Houston, 80
2005: 401–Florida State, 96; Clemson, 90; Colorado, 105; South Florida, 105
2004: 403–Florida State, 57; Louisiana Tech, 52; Houston, 132; Georgia Tech, 162
2003: 464–Louisiana Tech, 64; Florida, 178; East Carolina, 103; Boston College, 119
2002: 492–Florida A&M, 61; Florida, 163; Temple, 121; Boston College, 147
2001: 434–Penn State, 82; Rutgers, 64; Pittsburgh, 133; Troy State, 155
2000: 484–McNeese State, 197; Washington, 128; West Virginia, 155; Rutgers, 4
1999: 331–Ohio State, 116; Florida A&M, -17; Penn State, 110; East Carolina, 122
1998: 478–East Tennessee State, 49; Cincinnati, 156; Virginia Tech, 119; Rutgers, 154
1997: 718–Baylor, 108; Arizona State, 232; Pittsburgh, 154; West Virginia, 224
1996: 285–Memphis, 91; Citadel, 128; Rutgers, 66; Pittsburgh,
1995: 955–UCLA, 256; Florida A&M, 126; Virginia Tech, 300; Florida State, 273
*Statistics acquired from USAToday.com, except for Aug 31, 1996 game at Memphis, which were acquired via 1997 Memphis Football Media Guide.