New Miami Hurricanes linebackers coach Travis Williams stated on Wednesday during the National Signing Day press conference that there is an All-Conference LB on the roster. Miami had poor LB play in 2020 following the losses of four-year starters Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney after the 2019 season.
The Miami Hurricanes fell from 17th against the run in 2019 to 76th in 2020. The Hurricanes allowed 114.62 rushing yards per game with Quarterman and Pinckney manning the middle of the defense in 2019. Without Quarterman and Pinkney in 2020, Miami allowed 176.45 rushing yards per game.
Three times in 2020, Miami allowed over 200 rushing yards. North Carolina ran for 554 yards and six touchdowns in the final regular-season game against the Miami Hurricanes. That was the most rushing yards allowed by Miami in program history. Miami will return all their LBs in 2021. Miami needs improvement at LB in 2021.
Brandon Jennings Jr. led Miami LBs with 39 tackles but was seventh overall and had 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Sam Brooks was slightly behind Jennings with 37 tackles. Zach McCloud returns for his fifth season with Miami after recording 27 tackles in 2020. Williams spoke about the history of LBs at Miami.
"“I really want them to understand we are at the U, which I really think is ‘Linebacker U…They just have to understand that these guys that laid the foundation and laid the bricks around here, when you watch them play on Saturdays you’ve got to understand some of these guys really take them serious.When it comes to playing football, especially linebacker, at Miami, they have to understand that…We have…an all-conference linebacker in this room…You have to love being physical, you have to love coming to work every day and playing linebacker at the U…You have to love the pressure week in and week out, going out there and dominating, and having that pressure of all your former brothers watching you. I’m up for the challenge, the guys will be up for the challenge, but it just starts mentally.We have it in the room, we’re going to get everything out of them. I’m just fired up for the opportunity.”"
Miami has a lot of unproven talent at LB behind Brooks, Jennings and McCloud who moved to DE for the Cheez-it Bowl loss. McCloud could be best suited for DE in the NFL and could stay there in 2021. Avery Huff, Waynmon Steed, Tirek Austin-Cave and Corey Flagg return in 2021 and should challenge for playing time.
Freshmen Tyler Johnson and Deshawn Troutman will have a tough time competing for playing time. Improving the LB play will be critical for the Miami defense and the biggest challenge for Willaims in his first season. In a revamped defensive staff with Manny Diaz calling the plays, the Miami defense will have a new look.