Miami football plans to redshirt Zach McCloud helps 2020 defense

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 22: 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 22: 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

After Miami football head coach Manny Diaz initially shut down the discussion it appears that senior linebacker and three-year starter Zach McCloud will redshirt in 2019.

Zach McCloud is part of a triumvirate of linebackers on the Miami football team that started as true freshmen in 2016 and through their 2018 junior seasons. The introduction of the striker position in the spring of 2018 took significant playing time away from McCloud last season. Rumblings about a redshirt season began last week.

The decision for McCloud to redshirt signals the commitment to the striker position and further reduces an already-thin LB corps for the Miami football team. Heading into their bye week the only healthy LBs the Hurricanes have on scholarship are starters Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney and true freshman, Sam Brooks.

The decision for McCloud to redshirt is two-fold. He wasn’t receiving the amount of playing time he wanted and it bolsters what would have been a woefully inexperienced LB group in 2020. The potential is that McCloud is moved inside to middle or the MIKE LB position. McCloud has only three tackles in 2019.

Brooks plays the weakside LB if the Hurricanes continue to use the striker. Romeo Finley has been the starting striker since the position was inaugurated at the beginning of the 2018 season. Finley started four games in 2018 and the first three in 2019 before sitting out Saturday with an injury.

Gilbert Frierson who is the heir apparent to Finley at striker started on Saturday. That was the first start of Frierson’s career. The purpose of the striker position is to have a player on the field who is equally adept against the run and in pass coverage. That worked better for Miami in 2018 than 2019.

After leading the nation in pass defense in 2018, Miami has fallen to 50th against the pass nationally in 2019. The Hurricanes allowed 135.6 passing yards per game in 2018 and are allowing 209.8 in 2019. Miami has allowed too many big plays in the passing game this season. Miami has given up three plays of 60 yards plus.

The possibility is that McCloud could be taken out of the redshirt if Quarterman, Pinckney or Brooks gets injured. McCloud can play in one more game in 2019 and maintain his redshirt. Manny Diaz discussed McCloud’s decision to seek a redshirt with the media on Wednesday.

"“So what we have with Zach is we have another game where he can play…If something were to happen catastrophically where we would need him for the long term, he’ll be ready to go for the team.But if not, if something happens [where] we’re just in a one-game situation where he needs to finish a game, he can play, and we know we’ve got that game to play with. But otherwise, it would be amazing if we could save him for the bowl, let him play in the bowl, and let him go [play] next season.“Decisions like that, and especially with a guy like Zach, what I said is still true — he is so important to us…But that was something that he came to us with that week and said, well, if there’s a possibility, if he was going to get limited snaps on defense and just play on special teams [he was open to redshirting].”"

Next. Zach McCloud could consider a transfer after redshirt. dark

Canes Warning discussed the idea of McCloud redshirting last week and earlier this week as originally brought up by the Through the Smoke podcast. The only thing to be concerned with is what if McCloud decides to move on as a graduate transfer. There is nothing to indicate that could happen, but situations can change quickly.