Manny Diaz wants better leadership from Miami Hurricanes defense

Head coach Manny Diaz was not happy with the leadership on the Miami defense in 2019. Too much was handled by former linebacker Shaq Quarterman.

The Miami Hurricanes finished 23rd in scoring defense and 13th in total defense in 2019. In spite of the impressive numbers, head coach Manny Diaz told Manny Navarro of The Athletic that he was not happy with the leadership on the Miami defense in 2019. Too much was placed on graduated linebacker Shaq Quarterman.

Quarterman was a four-year starter for the Miami Hurricanes who set the program record with 52 starts in his career. Defining what it means to play football for Miami, Quarterman was a leader throughout his Hurricanes career. Diaz expected other veterans on the 2019 Miami defense to step up who did not.

Diaz did not name any players. Some of the Miami players on defense who departed after the 2019 season in addition to Quarterman, include defensive tackle Pat Bethel, defensive end Jonathan Garvin, linebacker Michael Pinckney, cornerback Trajan Bandy and striker Romeo Finley. Garvin could be who Diaz meant.

Garvin regressed as a dominant force on the Miami defensive line after a breakout season as a sophomore. As a result of the regression, Garvin fell to a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft after previously being mentioned as a potential second-day pick in the second or third round. Diaz spoke about leadership with Navarro.

“I didn’t feel like we were a very connected defense a year ago…As a coordinator, I’ve had a few years where sometimes you just put all the people in the room and it just doesn’t quite happen. Sometimes the personalities don’t quite go. I think our players sensed it.

I don’t think the leadership on defense was as good as we thought it would be. I felt like Shaq (Quarterman) was too isolated for most of the year. I thought he tried as hard as he could, but I think some of the other veterans we felt like would provide leadership didn’t, and I think that hurt.”

Miami also lost reserve defensive lineman Scott Patchan who moved on to Colorado State as a graduate transfer. After redshirting in 2019 three-year starter Zach McCloud returns in 2020 to likely replace Quarterman at middle LB. McCloud’s presence should help rectify the lack of leadership on defense in 2019.

Other candidates to assist McCloud as defensive leaders are redshirt sophomore DE Greg Rousseau, graduate transfer DE Quincy Roche and safety Gurvan Hall. The Miami defense has a mix of upperclassmen and young players getting a chance to contribute more than that have earlier in their careers.

The leadership component and holding teammates responsible has often been missing from the Miami Hurricanes football program in recent years. Rectifying that and players setting the tone of what is expected on and off the field, in the weight room and classroom is what will ultimately return Miami to being an elite program.