Miami Hurricanes defense praised by Manny Diaz after first scrimmage

Dec 5, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Hurricanes defense had some impressive performances in the first scrimmage of the spring according to head coach Manny Diaz. Miami has question marks at linebacker and defensive end entering the 2021 season. Some Hurricanes stood out at LB, safety and striker on Saturday.

Miami should have good depth at defensive tackle, safety and potentially cornerback in 2021. Diaz signaled out a few players at those positions following the scrimmage on Saturday. Second-year freshman LB Corey Flagg should challenge for playing time in 2021. Diaz also mentioned Chase Smith and Avantae Williams.

Smith is a 2021 signee and the son of former Miami tight end Willie Smith with a bright future on the Miami defense at striker. Smith was the 15th ranked athlete in the Class of 2021. Athlete is a wide encompassing position rank where a player could play offense or defense. Williams was the second-ranked safety in 2021.

Williams sat out last season due to an unspecified medical condition. Diaz also praised Avery Huff who dealt with his own injuries in 2020. Huff is likely to contribute at linebacker for the Miami Hurricanes in 2021 after being highly rated as a 2019 signee. Huff had five tackles in 2020 after redshirting in 2019.

"Corey Flagg is really continuing to make strides and the guy that is slowly getting better and better is Avery Huff. He made a nice play on a screen and just seeing the game better. Beyond that, Chase Smith had an interception today…and first-year safety Avantae Williams had an interception as well.Good to see a couple of young guys make some plays with the ball in the air.’’"

Contributions from Flagg, Huff, Smith and Williams could take the Miami defense to another level in 2021. The Hurricanes defense regressed in 2020. Diaz is taking over as defensive coordinator in 2021, a rarity for a head coach to handle both positions. Mark Richt called the offensive plays but was not the coordinator.

Miami secondary led by Stevenson limits big plays in scrimmage. dark. Next

Miami returns nine starters on defense. Defensive ends Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche both departed for the NFL. Huff will have the biggest chance of the mentioned players to earn playing time in 2021. Miami is deep at striker and safety with the return of several experienced players for the 2021 season.