Miami Hurricanes defense will be more aggressive under Manny Diaz

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 06: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 06: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Miami Hurricanes defense regressed significantly in 2020. After the season ended, head coach Manny Diaz announced he was retaking the play-calling duties on defense. Co-offensive coordinator Ephraim Banda announced he was leaving to becoming the DC at Utah State. Blake Baker eventually left for LSU.

Baker had the play-calling responsibilities taken from him after Banda left and was hired by the Tigers as the linebackers coach. Under Diaz, Miami plays more aggressively and in man-to-man coverage more frequently than zone as they did under Baker. Expect the Miami Hurricanes defense to return to form in 2021.

Miami was fourth nationally in 2020 averaging 8.64 tackles for loss per game, but 32nd averaging 2.73 sacks per game. Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche who were NFL Draft picks combined for 12.5 of the 30 Hurricanes sacks in 2020. Zach McCloud and DeAndre Johnson are projected as the first-team defensive ends in 2021.

McCloud and Johnson are both making the move from linebacker. McCloud moved to DE for Miami during their 37-34 Cheez-It Bowl loss to Oklahoma State in December. Johnson was an outside LB/edge rusher for Tennessee in their 3-4 defense before transferring to Miami in January. A rival coach spoke about Diaz‘s defensive system.

"“Manny Diaz is calling the defense now, so they’re going to be more aggressive. They were bad last year by their own standards and by league standards, too. If not for the offense, they really would’ve fallen apart. They’re like FSU, strongest in the secondary and underperforming in run defense.If they can work the line of scrimmage better, that would allow Manny to do his thing.”"

The comments from the anonymous coach were posted in the Athlon Sports College Football Annual magazine and posted by David Lake of Inside the U. The Miami Hurricanes finished 74th nationally in 2020 allowing 174.45 yards per game. The rushing yards allowed per game were greatly inflated by North Carolina.

The Hurricanes allowed a school record 554 rushing yards against the Tar Heels. Miami allowed 1,919 yards rushing for the entire 2020 season. Taking out the thrashing by North Carolina, Miami allowed 136.5 rushing yards per game. North Carolina had 28.9 percent of the rushing yards Miami allowed in 2020.

Miami returns their entire LB corps in 2021. The Hurricanes need significantly improved play from the middle of their defense in 2021. As the anonymous coach stated the Hurricanes’ secondary will be the strength of their defense in 2021. Safety will specifically be the strength of the Miami defense this fall.

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Bubba Bolden and Gurvan Hall return and are expected to be the starters. Amari Carter has been a key player for Miami at safety but was moved to striker this spring. There has been some question if Carter will remain there when training camp begins in August. Defensive tackle should anchor the Miami line in 2021.