Miami Hurricanes Aggressive Defense Beginning to Payoff

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 21: Steve Ishmael /

Although they gave up 399 yards in a 27-19 victory over Syracuse, the Miami Hurricanes defense repeatedly came up with big plays throughout their victory over the Orange.

Defensive Coordinator’s Manny Diaz’s defense accounted for nine tackles for loss, four sacks and four interceptions. Unlike the last two weeks when the offense had to come up with big plays late to win, the defense came up with a fourth down stop late in the victory.

The Hurricanes turnover chain appeared like it was going to make an appearance on the first drive of the game. Demetrius Jackson intercepted Syracuse’s Eric Dungey off a tipped pass by Miami defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh on the first drive. Dungey took the ball away from Jackson on the return and got the ball back for the Orange.

The Miami defense then held the Orange three and out after the reset drive. The Hurricanes took a 3-0 lead after a 13 play 74-yard drive. After another punt on Syracuse’s next drive, the Hurricanes intercepted Dungey again on the next two drives.

After Miami went three and out, cornerback Michael Jackson intercepted Dungey on the second play of the Orange drive. That was a big play as Syracuse began their drive at the Miami 38 after a 25 yard Zach Feagles punt.

Jackson’s interception gave Miami the ball back at the Hurricanes 16-yard line. Miami took advantage and went 84 yards in eight plays to take a 10-0 lead.

Three plays into the next Syracuse drive Jaquan Johnson recorded the third interception of the half. Miami turned that into three points to expand the lead to 13-0.

After Syracuse put three on the board and a Miami punt, the Hurricanes turned their fourth interception of the half. Nine plays and 38 yards into the Orange drive, Michael Jackson got his second interception of the game.

The Miami Hurricanes secondary wasn’t the only part of the defense making big plays on the night. The Hurricanes pressured Dungey and the Syracuse backfield throughout the game.

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  • Michael Pinckney had the best game of his year and a half collegiate career. Pinckney finished with nine tackles, six solos, three and a half tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh also added a career five pass breakups.

    Although the Miami defense gave up 264 yards on the ground they did a great job against the high tempo Syracuse offense. Pinckney spoke about the challenge of slowing down Syracuse after the game.

    "“It was challenging…They were a (high) tempo offense. We tried to simulate it in practice, but it’s pretty hard to do. We’ve just got good backups; your team is based off your backups. So, I felt like we did what we had to do tonight.”"

    The Orange entered the Miami game second in the nation in plays per game. The Orange were averaging 87.8 plays in their first seven games of the season. They ran plays 93 against the Hurricanes.

    The Hurricanes have a chance next week to finally get a chance to win a game that shouldn’t go down to the wire. Miami to North Carolina. The Tar Heels have been the ACC’s worst team this season.

    The Tar Heels are 1-7, 0-5. They are coming off of a 59-7 loss at Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes defense should feast on a weak North Carolina offense. They are 12th in the ACC averaging 23.3 points per game.

    Next: Miami Hurricanes Outlast Syracuse in Another Close Win

    Miami’s defensive line will salivate when they watch North Carolina game film. The Tar Heels are 109th nationally having allowed 119 yards on 15 sacks this season heading into Saturday. Virginia Tech smoked the Tar Heels for 13 tackles for loss and six sacks.