Miami Hurricanes Defensive Depth Key Against Toledo

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Shaquille Quarterman
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Shaquille Quarterman /

The Miami Hurricanes get back to game action when they host Toledo on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami will be playing its first game since their season-opening victory over Bethune-Cookman September 2.

Toledo will be a difficult task for the Miami Hurricanes defense. The Rockets use a quick tempo offense that will test the best defenses. The Hurricanes depth defensively will be key in Saturday’s game.

The Rockets run an average of 77 plays per game. Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is going to have to get his reserves in and out quickly. The Rockets have a relatively balanced offense.

Toledo is averaging 334.7 yards per game passing and 218 rushing. Quarterback Logan Woodside has 1,004 yards passing, eight touchdowns and no interceptions. The Rockets running game is split primarily three ways.

Terry Swanson has 576 yards on 4.8 yards per carry and five touchdowns, Art Thompkins 236 yards and 6.1 YPC and Shakif Seymour 150 yards, 6.0 YPC and one touchdown.

Despite the gaudy passing numbers, the Rockets are still primarily a running offense. They run the ball 60.4 percent of the time and pass it 39.4. They have been able to use the run to set up a very prolific passing offense.

Woodside has been incredibly efficient. He has completed nearly two-thirds of his passes at 65.9 percent, 60-91. The Rockets have also been stellar in the Red Zone. Toledo has scored in over 81 percent of their red zone trips.

The Rockets are also very explosively offensively. Their 8.1 yards per play ranks eighth in the country. Saturday’s game will be the most important this season in terms of depth. Toledo’s quick pace offense will be a good test. Many of the ACC teams play a similarly up-tempo offense.

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  • Diaz spoke about the importance of getting his defense in condition to play.

    "“Our strength staff is trying to run the guys and get them back into shape. This is where our depth matters. It has to matter. We have been saying all along, ‘How do you get all these guys in the game?’ This is why you’ve got to get all these guys in the game.”"

    Kendrick Norton stressed the importance of being ready on every play throughout the game.

    "“They’re a team that likes to go fast and to catch you disorganized…We’ve got to be ready for that on defense.”"

    Woodside might be the best quarterback Miami faces all-season. They miss Clemson, Louisville and Florida State’s Dondre Francois this season. Head Coach Mark Richt has been very impressed by Woodside.

    "“He’s outstanding,..His fundamentals are great. He knows the system so well. He knows when and where to go with the ball. He’s the kind of guy that, if you pressure him, the ball is going to come out quick to the right guy."

    In addition to leading the country in touchdown passes last season, he also finished second in passer rating. Woodside is a highly skilled quarterback that is going to test the Hurricanes defense.

    On what would be Miami’s fourth game of the season if not for Irma, they have to play like it. Diaz said:

    "“We have to be in midseason form…No excuses.”"

    The difference in the game could be how well Miami’s defense plays. They are going to have to improve greatly over the season opener. Miami has to improve on their 5.1 yards allowed per play and their over 50 percent third-down conversion rate allowed on defense.

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    If they are able to do both, it should a should be a successful Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium.