Depth on Miami Hurricanes Defensive Line Strength in 2017

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Joe Jackson
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Joe Jackson /

A lot has been made about the Miami Hurricanes returning its starting front seven defensively intact this season. UM returned to an attacking style of defense last season. The depth on the defensive line has been a big reason that they were able to do that.

The Miami Hurricanes starting front four have gotten a multitude of accolades and preseason honors. Chad Thomas and Joe Jackson outside and R.J. McIntosh and Kendrick Norton inside give Miami one of the best starting defensive lines in the country.

Those four plus Trent Harris who started seven games last season are part of the reason that the Miami Hurricanes begin the season ranked in the top 20. The production was there defensively last season. Miami finished fifth in the nation in tackles for loss.

The Miami defensive line produced well over 50 tackles for loss. Thomas led the Hurricanes last season with 11 tackles for loss. Jackson led the Hurricanes with 7.5 sacks.

Harris, Thomas and Jackson will rotate at the end spots. That gives Miami essentially three starters at the two positions. The Hurricanes also have talent backing up McIntosh and Norton Inside.

Andrew Moten and Scott Patchan are likely to be the players that get the most time inside behind Norton and McIntosh. Moten had six tackles and a half tackle for loss last season.

Moten and Patchan will be faced with the task of replacing Gerald Willis inside. Willis had 19 tackles. five and a half tackles for loss and one and a half sacks. Willis is sitting out the season for an unspecified reason.

Related Story: Miami Hurricanes DT Gerald Willis Out for 2017 Season

Patchan only played in the Florida State game last season. He redshirted as a Freshman in 2015. Patchan came in as a highly regarded player. He has suffered from injuries throughout his career at Miami.

Patchan excelled in the scrimmage on Saturday. He appears to be healthy and finally able to be a contributor this season. The 6’6 240-pound redshirt sophomore “recorded four tackles, including three tackles for loss for 15 yards and a pair of sacks for 13 yards.” according to HurricaneSports.Com.

Patchan was recruited as a defensive end but figures to get some time inside this season. Jackson, Harris, Thomas and Demetrius Jackson seem set at the ends. With the injuries that occur during the season some shuffling is likely to take place. Miami had to do some shuffling on the offensive line due to injuries last season.

Moten discussed the importance of versatility on the defensive line.

"“Whenever Kendrick gets tired, I am going to come in the game and do my thing,” Moten said. “No slack off this season. When he comes out of the game, there will be no slack off. Last year we had an injury in the Virginia Tech game and I went to D-end. I hadn’t played D-end since like my 10th grade year. If somebody gets hurt or tired, I’m coming in. I just want no knock off, that’s all.”"

Depth and conditioning are essential to keeping the players fresh and productive. Moten discussed the improvement in his conditioning for this season.

"“Definitely with my fatigue…Last year if I got tired after four plays, coach wouldn’t trust me after those four plays. I’m a lot better and have been working on it. I’ve been trying to go more than what I can do.”"

Next: Five Miami Hurricanes Alums that are Pro Football Hall of Fame Locks

Miami should not have problems with fatigue. If the players are properly conditioned this season the depth is there for everyone to be able to go 100 percent on every play.