Miami football: 2001 defense made great by offensive mindset

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Buchanon’s interception was one of five turnovers Miami forced against the Hokies in a 26-24 victory that afternoon. They needed every one to continue on their drive to a fifth national championship.

The competitiveness that the Miami defense had fed off each other. When James Lewis picked off Nebraska’s Heisman Trophy QB Eric Crouch and returned it for a touchdown, Buchanon wondered if he would be able to duplicate the feat.

"“That Nebraska game was boring, man…I knew going into the game that they weren’t going to pass the ball and that it was going to be hard for me to get an interception, but when James Lewis got that interception. I was like, ‘Man, why couldn’t that be me?’ National championship game on national TV. I get no love and James Lewis scores? I mean, I was happy for him, but I was also thinking, ‘Can I get one, too?’”"

The competitive spirit in Buchanon showed in the plays he remembers that he didn’t make. The 2001 Miami football team could not have accomplished much more than they did. Twenty-two point victories over Florida State and Pittsburgh were the only games remotely as close as Boston College and Virginia Tech.

In addition to the 23 point blowout over Nebraska in a game that was not anywhere close as the final score, Buchanon rued over a dropped interception in a 65-7 victory over Washington in 2001. The victory over the Huskies vindicated Miami from their loss in Seattle in 2000. That defeat kept Miami out of the BCS Championship game.

"“We should’ve had eight turnovers that game. Now that I’m thinking about it, I feel like I need to drop and do 10 push-ups.”"

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Buchanon’s attitude is what Manny Diaz, defensive coordinator Blake Baker and Rumph are trying to instill in their players. Diaz’s defense throughout his coaching career has been among the best nationally in forcing turnovers. That should continue to with his elevation to head coach.