Miami Hurricanes defense had performance needed at final scrimmage

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

Playing their second and final scrimmage of August training camp, the Miami Hurricanes defense had the performance they needed. In the postgame interview, head coach Manny Diaz mentioned several players on defense, praised the defensive line’s performance and stopping the run.

Diaz stated the first-team defense was dominant and showed improvement from the first to second scrimmage as expected. The defensive line showed depth on Saturday night. Defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera, defensive ends Deandre Johnson and Zach McCloud and defensive lineman Elijah Roberts all had sacks.

At linebacker, Corey Flagg and Keontra Smith are staking their claim to become the starters. Flagg had a great scrimmage according to Diaz. After a big performance in the first scrimmage, Smith recorded a pass breakup and a bunch of tackles on Saturday night. Backup LB Waynmon Steed added four tackles.

The Miami defense is going to have to perform well with Alabama looming in the season opener in less than two weeks. Tackling was much better in the second scrimmage on Saturday than last week. Miami will need a similar performance against Alabama. Diaz spoke about the standouts defensively after the scrimmage.

"“I thought our defensive line was excellent. Very disruptive…Silvera had a sack. McCloud had a sack, Elijah Roberts had a sack. Deandre Johnson had a sack. I thought Corey Flagg had a great scrimmage. Keontra Smith [had] a PBU and a bunch of tackles. Waynmon Steed had four tackles. Did some really good things.They made themselves hard to run the ball…put the offense in some long yard situations where you could get in some pressure situations…Our tackling was night and day from last week. We tackled much, much better…Very little run after the catch. A lot of guys swarming around the ball. A lot of confidence.Big strides from where we were a week ago.”"

Smith switched from striker last season to LB during the spring. In both scrimmages, Smith has shown the ability to make plays. Flagg and Smith are undersized LBs with each being 5’11. At 205 pounds, Smith makes up for his lack of length and bulk at LB. Flagg weighs 230 pounds. Miami needs playmaking LBs in 2021.

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The Miami Hurricanes are going to need to produce pressure against Alabama quarterback Bryce Young who will be making his first collegiate start. The defensive line being disruptive in the second scrimmage is a good sign for Miami. Miami often regressed defensively in 2020. Getting production from the DL will be critical in 2021.