Miami Hurricanes Defense Hopes to Improve Against Toledo

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

After an uneven performance in the season-opening 41-13 victory over Bethune-Cookman the Miami Hurricanes defense hopes to improve against Toledo. The Rockets bring the nation’s tenth best offense to Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday.

Leading the Rockets attempt to upset the Miami Hurricanes is quarterback Logan Woodside. Woodside led the nation last season in touchdown passes and finished second in quarterback rating.

Toledo has the nation’s 13th best passing offense at 334.7 yards per game. Despite that, they use their running game to set up the pass. The Rockets run the ball nearly sixty percent of the time.

After losing NFL rookie sensation Kareem Hunt after last season the Rockets are using a running back by committee this season. Terry Swanson, Art Thompkins, Shakif Seymour all have at least 150 yards through three games.

Woodside also has a pair of star receivers to throw to. Cody Thompson has 22 receptions for 391 yards and four touchdowns. Dionte Johnson has 12 catches for 297 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson’s 24.75 yards per catch ranks 13th nationally. Thompson is 64th with 17.77 YPC.

Miami Hurricanes Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz was not happy with his defense’s performance in game one. Mark Richt thought he was a bit harsh. Richt rebutted Diaz’s assessment a bit.

"“A lot of people outside of the program wanted to talk big about our defense, but we take pride in what we think we have…I think four 10-play drives, the first drive of the game going seven and a half minutes to open the season, that’s not what anyone expected. It was certainly a tribute to the preparedness of Bethune-Cookman and their program.“We think we can do better than that, and we expect to do better than that. I’m sure it’s been a long wait to try and prove that we’re better defensively than we were. I’m not saying we lit anything up offensively, by any means, but I’m sure that’s what Manny meant. In our eyes, that’s not what we expect defensively.”"

Toledo has one of the most balanced and explosive offenses in the country. The Hurricanes are going to have to be ready for a team that can score quickly. Diaz spoke about Toledo:

"“You’re playing an opponent who is scoring points for fun and has now played a lot of ball, so they’re into their season routine. They’ve improved every week and we kind of have to be in midseason form Saturday at 3:30, no excuses.”"

There is a large contingent of the Miami Hurricanes fan base that seems to think that UM will win because of the name on both teams’ jersey. Miami safety Jaquan Johnson understands the task at hand on Saturday.

"“Watching them…they are definitely explosive…They can put up points and that’s probably one of the best quarterbacks that we’re going to see. They were picked to win their division so we have a lot to prepare for, but we’ll be ready.”"

Defensive back Malek Young knows the Hurricanes need to be on their heels against Toledo’s fast paced offense.

"“They move pretty quick,..they have good receivers, we just have to match up with them and their scheme. It’s more than athleticism. It’s the scheme and the routes that they run and motions that they do to throw off the plays. We just have to come prepared and mentally focused.”"

The Hurricanes are going to have to improve defensively over week one. The key could be the front seven.

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Miami was only able to get one sacks against a mediocre FCS team Bethune-Cookman. The Hurricanes were able to record seven tackles for loss. This is a huge step up after three weeks in between games against a far better offense.