Miami Hurricanes defensive line remain best performing players

Oct 10, 2020; Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 10, 2020; Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports /

Since Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz was hired as defensive coordinator in 2016 the best performing players throughout the roster have been on the defensive line.

The 2020 Miami Hurricanes have started 5-1 largely because of the performance of the defensive line. Other than quarterback D’Eriq King the best players for Miami on offense and defense have been the performance of the DL. The aggressiveness of the Miami DL has been a constant under head coach Manny Diaz.

Since Diaz was hired as the Hurricanes defensive coordinator in 2018 under his predecessor Mark Richt in 2016 Miami has been a top 15 defense in tackles for loss and sacks. The Hurricanes are currently 12th averaging 8.5 TFLs per game. The sacks have not come as frequent in 2020 as Miami is averaging 2.5 per game to rank 42nd.

Metrics will state that pressure on the QB does not always equate to sacks. Miami edge rushers Quincy Roche and Jaelan Phillips rank 25th and 36th overall among edge rushers according to Pro Football Focus via Inside the U. Miami interior DL Nesta Silvera and Jared Harrison-Hunte rank 43rd and 58th according to PFF.

After four TFLs against in the 19-14 Miami win over Virginia last Saturday, Roche is tied for second nationally with 9.5. Roche leads Miami in TFLs and is second with 2.5 sacks behind Harrison-Hunte who has three. Roche has received a 78.2 overall defensive grade from PFF and 68.0 grade in run defense.

Roche has excelled as a pass rusher and in coverage. The 80.2 pass-rush grade from PFF ranks 20th out of 199 edge rushers and Roche received a 90.4 grade in pass coverage. Phillips has received an overall grade of 75.8, a run defense grade of 74.7 to rank 31st and a pass-rush grade of 75.2 which is currently 39th.

Phillips received a 76 grade in pass coverage. Phillips and Roche are both athletic enough that Miami can occasionally use them in pass coverage. Roche should have had an interception against Clemson. The play was called offsides on fourth and two after Miami stopped the Tigers on the first drive of the game.

Roche is the second-highest graded Miami Hurricanes player and Phillips is third. Silvera and Harrison-Hunte are right behind them ranked as the Hurricanes fourth and fifth best players. Per Inside the U writer David Lake, Harrison-Hunte received a 70.7 overall grade from PFF and a 73.7 pass-rush grade.

Silvera received a grade of 73.1 overall and a 72.9 grade against the run. Lake referenced that Silvera is tied for the ACC lead among defensive tackles with 13 QB pressures and per PFF leads the ACC with seven QB hits. Silvera had 19 tackles, three TFLs, one sack and one pass breakup this season.

Next. Miami 2020 and 2018 5-1 starts very different. dark

In addition to leading Miami with three sacks, Harrison-Hunte has 11 tackles, five TFLs and one forced fumble. Miami defensive ends Jahfari Harvey and Cameron Williams have also made an impact for the Hurricanes this season. With the young talent on the DL Miami should continue to be dominant upfront in the future.