Head coach Manny Diaz taking on the additional responsibility of defensive coordinator is one of the biggest developments of the Miami Hurricanes offseason. Diaz took over defensive play-calling in January and added defensive coordinator in February following the departure of inside linebackers coach Blake Baker.
Baker was also the co-defensive coordinator with safeties coach Ephraim Banda. Banda left to become the defensive coordinator at Utah State in January. Baker was the Miami Hurricanes defensive play-caller the last two seasons. Fifth-year safety Amari Carter spoke with reporters on Tuesday and praised Diaz.
Diaz was the defensive coordinator for Miami from 2016-18. Carter signed with Miami in the Class of 2017 and played two seasons under Diaz when he was the defensive coordinator before becoming the head coach for the 2019 season. Carter will be part of an extremely deep safety corps for Miami in 2021.
Carter, junior Gurvan Hall and redshirt junior Bubba Bolden return for Miami in 2021. Those three will share snaps at safety and be the leaders of the defense. Safeties have been the core of the Miami defense in the five seasons under Diaz. A safety has led the Hurricanes in tackles of four of those five seasons.
"“I had the opportunity to be coached by Coach Diaz when I first got here…I feel very comfortable with him calling the plays. Coach Diaz is always like a fire burner. He’s going to get the best out of you one way or the other.He’s going to make sure the defense is on point, that we’re running to the ball and communicating well in all phases of the play. (Diaz is) the head honcho of this defense, of this team. Last year he was over there observing. He would come and teach here and there, but he was more of an observer.Now he’s hands on, all in, calling the plays. That’s why what we’re here for.’’"
Miami was a top 20 defense nationally under Diaz and in 2019 in the first season under Baker. The Miami defense fell to 66th in 2020 and Diaz made coaching changes on the entire defensive staff for the 2021 season. Miami is expected to return to a more aggressive style that they had under Diaz.
With Carter and the other veterans on the defense having the confidence they do in Diaz calling the defensive plays Miami should play with more confidence in 2021. It is clear that Carter feels more prepared with Diaz running the defense. Diaz will be more involved with the defense than he has been the last two years.