Miami Hurricanes defense regaining edge under “new” DC Manny Diaz

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 is regaining their edge with Manny Diaz resuming his role as defensive coordinator in addition to being the head coach. Miami slipped defensively in 2020 after being a top 25 defense in the first four seasons Diaz spent as a coach in Coral Gables. The 2021 season is a big one for the Hurricanes defense.

Diaz announced he was taking over play-calling duties for the Miami defense shortly after the season ended with a 37-34 Cheez-It Bowl loss to Oklahoma State in December. Co-defensive coordinator Ephraim Banda left for Utah State in January to call his own defense. Blake Baker left in February to become LSU linebackers coach.

Without calling the defensive signals, Baker became defensive coordinator in name only after sharing the responsibility with Banda the last two seasons. Diaz becomes one of the rare head coaches to also be a coordinator and especially on defense. Diaz will spend more time with the defense than his first two years as head coach.

Miami will be relatively inexperienced at defensive end and linebacker in 2021 and needs better play from their cornerbacks. Before becoming head coach, Diaz also was the Hurricanes LB coach. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Diaz stated that he already had a role with the defense it’s just re-assuming the play-calling duties.

"“I already had a role [on defense]. It’s just getting into the play-calling; I’ve been doing that a long time. It’s been fun. It’s been easy. I think the guys are responding. The guys have responded. Defensively we’re trying to get back to having an edge about us. We lost the edge. That’s what this spring is about.”"

Defense is an attitude that the Miami Hurricanes seemed to lose last season. In the first season under Diaz as head coach in 2019, Miami finished 23rd nationally in scoring defense allowing 20.2 points per game and 13th in total defense allowing 309.8 yards per game. Those numbers slipped significantly in 2020.

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Miami was in 51st in scoring defense in 2020 allowing 27.0 PPG and 67th in total defense allowing 408.4 yards per game. When he was elevated to head coach Diaz spoke about the culture and having players who wanted to be at Miami. Playing with a greater sense of urgency will be important for the Miami defense in 2021.