Miami Hurricanes defense assertive in second scrimmage

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 13:(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 13:(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

With three starters returning after missing the first scrimmage the Miami Hurricanes defense asserted themselves in the second scrimmage Saturday night.

The Miami Hurricanes defense bounced back with three starters returning who were out for the first scrimmage last Sunday. On Saturday night the Miami defense was the more assertive unit in the second scrimmage in the first half. Head coach Manny Diaz was impressed by how the offense overcame adversity in the second half.

Senior safety Amari Carter, graduate transfer defensive end Quincy Roche and senior defensive tackle Jon Ford all missed the first scrimmage last Sunday. Their presence on Saturday night allowed the Hurricanes defense to make a statement in the first half and dictate the pace of the game.

With three key starters back on Saturday night, the defense played with a greater sense of purpose. No stats were provided for Carter, Roche, or Ford, but their presence and experience will help any defense. Roche should be the best player on the Miami Hurricanes defense in 2020.

After a first half dictated by the defense, the offense asserted itself more in the second half. Diaz was pleased with the ability by the offense to respond to adversity. The offense had its way in the first scrimmage. Diaz wanted to see how they responded to some adversity. The offense preserved and had a better second half.

The defense dictated play

"“I thought first half I thought the defense you know really took it to the offense you could see the addition of some of the guys coming back on the defensive line and just that added to an overall edge to their play.I thought the offense and the second half responded and played better and moved the ball in the second half and had some touchdown drives…We were we were hoping tonight as crazy sounds, we wanted some adversity because last week I think it was so simple we wanted to see how guys responded and did we get sad in our feelings or did we have some gumption about us to kind of you know fight back"

The first scrimmage was efficient, particularly on offense. Diaz praised the Hurricanes players for a mistake-free scrimmage last week. Saturday night had some setbacks and created the need for the Miami Hurricanes coaching staff to address penalties strongly with the players during practice this week. Diaz discussed the penalties.

Too many offensive mistakes

"“Overall though it was it was much much too sloppy of a scrimmage. Much sloppier than the first scrimmage was kind of a strange deal. Way too many penalties some things that we’re gonna have to sternly address this week in practice."

Getting Roche back to team with redshirt junior Jaelan Phillips on the defensive line for the first time was helpful for the Miami defense. They will be the focus of opposing offensive coordinators against the Hurricanes in 2020. Diaz was pleased with the way the defensive line played on Saturday night.

Defensive line is disruptive

"“Quincy had a really nice night as did the defensive line in general and you talked about the energy they brought. Yeah that first group I mean and the fact that they can roll a lot of guys I mean you know Quincy and Jaelan were both you know very disruptive.You know getting Jon Ford back…just a lot of guys you know creating havoc there in the backfield and and creating some negative plays. Which we had very few negative plays in the first scrimmage and it seemed like there were a lot more tonight.”"

The addition of D’Eriq King as a graduate transfer from Houston is expected to significantly improve the play at quarterback for Miami in 2020. King was efficient and threw four TD passes in the first scrimmage last Sunday. The only stats released for King on Saturday is that he threw for 95 yards and two touchdowns.

Quarterback play

"(Mentioned the offense responded in the second half what do you think of the quarterback play overall) I thought it was okay I thought it was just okay. You know not, not as good as it was a week ago."

Junior Cam Harris has steadily moved up the Miami Hurricanes depth chart in each of his three seasons. This season he will be the first-team RB. Harris was the star of the offense on Saturday night. Harris had 13 carries for 77 yards and a TD and five receptions and two receiving TDs. Diaz was impressed.

Cam Harris asserts himself

"“Cam was fantastic he had…13 for 77 and a touchdown and two touchdown catches, five catches for two for touchdowns but really set the tone the first touchdown in the first half.He caught a ball in the flat about eight yards from the end zone and had three guys that really had him to get him on the ground and he ran through all three tackles for a touchdown. Very impressive to see that you know Cams making an older guy type play."

Freshmen running backs Jaylan Knighton and Don Chaney Jr. performed well in the first scrimmage last Sunday. They continued to impress on Saturday. Knighton appears to be the likely second-team running back after the first two weeks. Knighton ran 12 times for 43 yards and a TD. Chaney had eight for 48 and a TD.

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Freshmen running backs continue to shine

"“They (Knighton and Chaney) again got better the fresh RBs as the scrimmage went on i think after their big plays a week ago sometimes you have the tendency you want to hit a grand slam with no one on base and I felt that early on they were trying to bounce things that weren’t there.I think once they started trusting their cuts and just sticking and becoming north-south runners once they clear that front line now they can use their explosion. But early on they were getting running us into some trouble by trying to you know make every play a touchdown.”"

The Miami Hurricanes are entering the home stretch of training camp. With less than three weeks remaining until the season opener against UAB the Hurricanes have to begin determining who will be ready to contribute against the Blazers. Diaz discussed how they will approach the final three weeks of practice.

Determine who they count on against UAB

"“Well we got a big week this week we got to get our guys we got to be able to extend these drives especially in the heat you know during training camp we’re going in the evening a lot.We got to get on Greentree we need a hot week of practice and we just got to continue to push our guys through this week and and make it really really hard on and make it really difficult on them and really find out pretty much the last week we’ll have to really find out who we can count on to go compete against UAB."

Several starting positions are still open ahead of UAB. How the players react to being pushed in the final three weeks of practice will determine who will secure those final few starting spots still available. Some players have surprised during training camp with their performances this month.

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Diaz and his staff have an idea about some of the players they can count on against UAB. The remainder will be a process. The entirely new rotation at edge rusher will continue to be elite, the offensive line is a process and the young RBs appear to be ready to contribute immediately. Miami should improve this season.