Manny Diaz expects defense improved because of connection players have

Jul 21, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 21, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami football team is expected to have an improved defense in 2021. Head coach Manny Diaz made significant changes in the Hurricanes defensive staff during the 2021 offseason. As the result of those changes, every Miami defensive coach is new to coaching their position with Miami in 2021.

Jonathan Patke who is the only holdover of the Miami defensive staff moved from strikers coach to linebackers for the 2021 season. Jess Simpson returns as the defensive line coach at Miami after a two-year hiatus. Travaris Robinson as the defensive backs coach and Ishmael Aristide coaching strikers are new to Miami.

DeMarcus Van Dyke was promoted from the Miami recruiting staff to cornerbacks coach working under Robinson. The biggest change for the Miami defensive staff is Manny Diaz resuming control of play-calling as the de fact coordinator. Blake Baker and Ephraim Banda who were the co-defensive coordinator departed.

Diaz has spoken about changing the culture in the Miami football program since taking over from Mark Richt in December 2018. Diaz set the culture for the Miami defense as the coordinator from 2018-2020. The Hurricanes defense was strong through mediocre years in 2018 and 2019. Diaz spoke at ACC Kickoff last week.

"“We’re going to be improved on defense this year. That is all going to be about the players. It’s fun to talk about the coaches and the play calling, this, that and the other. But great defense is ultimately about the connection between the players on the field, the trust and the accountability.That’s where I felt like a year ago we didn’t have quite have that. We take a lot of pride in how we play defense at Miami. We took a step back in that regard not to our standard. Guys have a chip on their shoulder. We have new coaches.What that does, what I like is that it took all of our players, took every one of those guys out of their comfort zone. Now, maybe your coach that you recruited you, the coach that you’ve been around, here comes a new set of eyes, a guy that’s going to challenge you in a different way. That’s what we ultimately needed.We needed to be out of our comfort zone defensively at Miami because we weren’t proud of how we finished last year. Doesn’t matter what defense you call if the players don’t have that bond and trust. That’s what makes all great defenses.I think the new staff, some of the great coaches we’ve been able to add, that I’m honored to work with, ultimately it comes down to those guys in the defensive team meeting room taking ownership of it and playing with that Miami chip on their shoulder.”"

The way Miami finished in 2020 was allowing 110 points in its last two games. The Hurricanes were run over 62-26 by North Carolina in the regular-season finale and lost 38-35 to Oklahoma State in the Cheez-It Bowl. If the Miami defense improves in 2021, the Hurricanes can have a special season.

The Miami offense should put up bigger numbers than they did in 2020. Miami returns nine starters on defense. The focus will be on defensive ends De Andre Johnson and Zach McCloud who replace 2021 NFL Draft picks Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche. Miami has to be more consistent producing a pass rush in 2021.

Next. Manny Diaz wants less negative plays, more explosive pass. dark

Every position other than edge rusher Miami is talented and relatively deep. Bubba Bolden will lead a deep group of Miami safeties in 2021. Tyrique Stevenson is a welcome addition to the Miami defense as a potential shutdown cornerback. The Miami defense has the talent to return to the standards set under Diaz from 2016-18.