Miami Hurricanes 2021 defense should be judged by turnovers and red zone

Aug 24, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 24, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The proliferation of the uptempo spread offenses has changed football. Defensive domination has become extremely rare. Manny Diaz resuming the defensive play-calling for the Miami Hurricanes in 2021 will result in a more aggressive defense with a focus on success forcing turnovers and limiting opponents in the red zone.

The Miami Hurricanes finished 40th in FBS in 2020 with 16 forced turnovers. Miami would have ranked lower in turnovers forced in 2020, but several conferences played fewer games. Miami finished 54th nationally in red zone scoring defense allowing opponents to convert on 82.61 percent of their trips inside the 20.

Miami was better at keeping opponents out of the end zone than off the scoreboard in the red zone in 2020. Hurricanes opponents converted touchdowns on 56.52 percent of trips in the red zone. Field goals are often more reliant on the opposing kicker and frequently out of the control of teams defending in the red zone.

Miami opponents kicked field goals on 26.09 percent on its red zone trips last season which was 97th nationally. All of those numbers need to improve for the Hurricanes in 2021. Miami was impressive against Pittsburgh in 2020 when the Panthers had four field goals and one TD in five red-zone trips.

The one Panthers TD came after an interception return to the Hurricanes’ one-yard line. A 20 percent success rate keeping opponents out of the red zone would have led FBS by a wide margin in 2020. Northwestern led the nation allowing TDs on only 29.63 percent of opponent red zone trips.

The lack of forced turnovers often plagued Miami last season. Miami only had three games forcing multiple turnovers in 2020. The Hurricanes forced three turnovers in back-to-back games against Louisville and Florida State in September and had its best game of 2020 with five forced turnovers in a 48-0 November win over Duke.

Duke and Louisville were the two worst teams nationally in turnover margin in 2020. The Cardinals finished -12 and Blue Devils were -19 as both played 11 games. Duke’s average of 1.73 turnovers per game more than their opponents was 125th out of 127 2020 FBS teams. Miami needs to force more turnovers in 2021.

Miami needs more 2021 turnover chain appearances. dark. Next

The Hurricanes had a moderate advantage of 0.36 turnovers per game less than their opponents last season. Those numbers were more about the Miami offense not having many turnovers than the defense forcing them. Under Manny Diaz, Miami has been exceptional producing turnovers, the Hurricanes need that to continue in 2021.