Mark Richt Not Concerned with Miami Hurricanes Run Defense

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 14: TaQuon Marshall /

One of the nation’s elite units in 2016, the Miami Hurricanes run defense has struggled this season.

Mark Richt spoke about the Miami Hurricanes strategy stopping the run and if he’s concerned during his weekly press conference with reporters on Tuesday previewing the North Carolina game.

In 2016, the Miami Hurricanes run defense allowed 133.1 rushing yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry. That number has increased to 183.2 yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry this season.

Miami is 11th in the ACC and 85th nationally against the run. The last two weeks have inflated the average.

Georgia Tech ran for 226 yards, but attempted only eight passes, completing three for 55 yards. The Yellow Jackets entered the game with Miami second in the nation in rushing. Miami held them 170 yards below their season average.

Syracuse has one of the most prolific passing offenses nationally. Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz schemed the Hurricanes defense to stop the Syracuse passing game. Miami did a great job against Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey and stopping the passing game.

The Orange were able to take able to take advantage of the Miami Hurricanes on the ground. Syracuse ran for 264 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. The game against Syracuse marked the third straight game Miami has allowed over 200 yards on the ground. The game prior to that the Hurricanes gave up 183 against Duke.

Richt addressed the issues of his run defense.

"“This last game we were going to play a lot of man coverage and to get to the quarterback and try to disrupt him a little bit we were running some stunts, some slanting and some twisting. Sometimes when you twist you don’t have the same gap integrity. Like, if everybody just lines up in their gap, plays their gap, linebacker’s behind it; he knows his gap; you got it all controlled.“But now you start twisting and stunting and two guys end up in the same gap and then, bam, a run just pops. That was the issue. It wasn’t so much that we were getting whipped physically. And we kind of knew there were may be some runs that pop out of there here and there.”"

Diaz’s aggressive defense has still managed to get into the offensive backfield. Against Syracuse, Miami had nine tackles for loss and four sacks. Sophomore linebacker Michael Pinckney had arguably the best game of his career. Pinckney had nine tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.

The Hurricanes run defense will get a boost in three of their last five games of the season. North Carolina, Virginia and Pittsburgh are the ACC’s three worst running games offensively. Miami will finish the season with games against the Cavaliers and Panthers.

The Hurricanes host Virginia Tech a week from Saturday. The Hokies average 179 yards per game on the ground. That’s sixth in the ACC, one spot behind Miami.

The following week Notre Dame travels to the Rock. The FIghting Irish average 317.9 rushing yards per game, sixth in the country.

Next: Miami Hurricanes Need to Keep Winning Before the U is Back

If Miami is going to reach some of their loftier goals this season, they are going to have to improve significantly against the run. With almost their entire front seven back from last season and a ton of depth, the falloff against the run is puzzling.