Miami Hurricanes DC Blake Baker produces elite edge rushers

MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 21: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 21: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Miami Hurricanes defensive coordinator Blake Baker has continually produced elite edge rushers in his one season in that position, four with Louisiana Tech and in his first season in 2019 in Coral Gables.

Blake Baker has continually produced edge rushers in his five seasons as a defensive coordinator. Baker was the defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech from 2015-2018 and is entering his second season with the Miami Hurricanes. In three of the last four seasons, Baker’s defenses have finished in the top 10 nationally in sacks.

Baker is a disciple of Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz. Baker was a graduate assistant under Diaz in 2011 and 2012 at Texas and then as the safeties coach at Louisiana Tech in 2014. When Diaz left Louisiana Tech for Mississippi State in 2015, Baker succeeded him as the Bulldogs defensive coordinator.

After finishing 78th nationally with 24 sacks in 2015, Baker elevated the Louisiana Tech pass rush in 2016. Led by FBS all-time sack leader Jaylon Ferguson the Bulldogs finished sixth nationally with 44 sacks tied with Ohio led by former Nebraska coach Frank Solich. Louisiana Tech slipped to 70th in FBS with 24 sacks in 2017.

Ferguson had an injury-plagued junior season which caused a regression to seven sacks, but the 2019 Baltimore Ravens third-round draft choice still recorded 12.5 tackles for loss. Behind 26 TFLs and 17.5 sacks from Ferguson as a senior in 2018, Louisiana Tech finished fifth nationally with 45 sacks.

When Mark Richt retired in December 2018, Diaz was hired to replace his former mentor. Diaz hired Baker to replace himself as the defensive coordinator. Baker continued to show an elite ability to mentor edge rushers during his first season as the Miami defensive coordinator. Miami finished seventh in FBS in sacks in 2019.

Led by redshirt freshman Greg Rousseau in a breakout season with 19.5 TFLs and 15.5 sacks, Miami recorded 46 sacks in 2019 tied with ACC Coastal rival Virginia who played in one more game. Even with Rousseau opting out in 2020, the Hurricanes should continue to have an elite pass rush.

The additions of graduate transfer Quincy Roche, redshirt junior Jaelan Phillips after sitting out in 2019 following his transfer from UCLA and redshirt freshman Jahfari Harvey the rebuilt Miami group of edge rushers should remaining among the best in FBS in 2020. Roche had 19 TFLs and 13 sacks for Temple in 2019.

Roche was graded as the third-best edge defender in college football last season by Pro Football Focus behind Heisman Trophy finalist Chase Young of Ohio State and Chris Rumph of Duke who had eight tackles, 3.5 TFLs and 3.5 sacks in the Blue Devils 27-17 victory in 2019 over Miami in the final game of the regular season.

Blake Baker expects big year from DE Jahfari Harvey. dark. Next

Phillips enters the 2020 season after struggling with injuries at UCLA but was the top-ranked signee in the class of 2017. Diaz, Baker and the Miami coaching staff are excited about the future Harvey potentially has. Harvey has often been regarded as the best athlete Miami has at edge rusher throughout training camp.