Hurricanes Rush Defense Climbs National Rankings; Worst Since 1995


Miami’s problems stopping the run have been well-chronicled over the last few weeks. Before the loss to Virginia Tech, Miami had allowed 809 yards on the ground and were ranked 105th in the country in rushing defense. After the loss to Virginia Tech, Miami moves to 97th in the nation in rush defense, but the 981 rushing yards allowed this season are still the most since the 1995 Hurricanes defense allowed 1,160 yards rushing in the first five games to UCLA, Florida A&M, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Rutgers.

Take a look below for a recap of the rushing yards allowed over the first five games of the previous 16 seasons. Reasons for running the ball more or less in a particular game vary depending on circumstances, but it’s obvious the woefulness in stopping the run is a big reason for the losing record this season.

The front seven is missing tackle Marcus Forston and linebacker Ramon Buchanan, who are out for the season due to injury, but the problem does not stem from a lack of raw talent. Head coach Al Golden calls it ‘freelancing’ when players are not where they are supposed to be and instead leave their assignment to try to make a play. When the defense is based around guys being where they’re supposed to be, that hurts and leads you to allow 981 rushing yards in five games.

In a press conference last week, Golden noted that things learned from the previous staff have carried over. “We’re more hand-oriented, more gap- and alignment-oriented,” Golden said at his press conference last Tuesday. “So there was a lot of swimming in the past, a lot of jumping in the gap. That’s fine if that’s the style that you play, but we’re trying to play a different style right now and what’s fair to say is the breakdown is coming a lot of times because everybody is not playing the same technique and everybody’s not playing as a unit.”

Keep in mind that the Hokies torched the Hurricanes’ passing defense, but until the Canes can stop somebody from moving the ball on the ground they’re going to have a tough time winning games. Both of the next two opponents could cause problems for Miami on the ground. North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard is 19th in the country with 109.5 yards per game. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, is ranked fourth nationally in rushing offense and is undefeated after six weeks.

2011: 981 total yards–Maryland, 151 yards; Ohio State, 174; Kansas state, 265; Bethune-Cookman, 219; Virginia Tech, 172
2010: 821–Florida A&M, 52; Ohio State, 181; Pittsburgh, 128; Clemson, 162; Florida State, 298
2009: 748–Florida State, 110; Georgia Tech, 95; Virginia Tech, 272; Oklahoma, 153; Florida A&M, 118
2008: 541–Charleston Southern, 49; Florida, 89; Texas A&M, 87; North Carolina, 35; Florida State, 281
2007: 485–Marshall, 51; Oklahoma, 116; FIU, 159; Texas A&M, 98; Duke, 61
2006: 316–Florida State, 1; Florida A&M, 82; Louisville, 95; Houston, 80; North Carolina, 58
2005: 521–Florida State, 96; Clemson, 90; Colorado, 105; South Florida, 105; Duke, 120
2004: 617–Florida State, 57; Louisiana Tech, 52; Houston, 132; Georgia Tech, 162; Louisville, 214
2003: 634–Louisiana Tech, 64; Florida, 178; East Carolina, 103; Boston College, 119; West Virginia, 170
2002: 582–Florida A&M, 61; Florida, 163; Temple, 121; Boston College, 147; Connecticut, 90
2001: 648–Penn State, 82; Rutgers, 64; Pittsburgh, 133; Troy State, 155; Florida State, 214
2000: 553–McNeese State, 197; Washington, 128; West Virginia, 155; Rutgers, 4; Florida State, 69
1999: 484–Ohio State, 116; Florida A&M, -17; Penn State, 110; East Carolina, 122; Florida State, 153
1998: 573–East Tennessee State, 49; Cincinnati, 156; Virginia Tech, 119; Rutgers, 154; Florida State, 95
1997: 892–Baylor, 108; Arizona State, 232; Pittsburgh, 154; West Virginia, 224; Florida State, 174
1996: 507–Memphis, 91; Citadel, 128; Rutgers, 66; Pittsburgh, INC**; Florida State, 222
1995: 1,160–UCLA, 256; Florida A&M, 126; Virginia Tech, 300; Florida State, 273; Rutgers, 205

*Statistics acquired from, except for Aug 31, 1996 game at Memphis, which were acquired via 1997 Memphis Football Media Guide.

**Game data from 9/28/96 game vs. Pittsburgh not available. In the other four of the first five games, Miami allowed a  total of 507 yards, meaning Pitt would have had to gain 475 yards to surpass the 981 total yards allowed so far this season. According to its record books, the most rushing yards allowed in a single game by a Miami defense were 536 to Auburn in 1944, 472 to Georgia Tech in 2008, and 448 to Notre Dame in 1973. Therefore, Pitt did not gain the 474 yards needed.