Miami Hurricanes will play 2 best linebackers regardless of position

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

Speaking to reporters during Miami Hurricanes media day on Tuesday, offensive coordinator Kevin Steele said that the best linebackers would play regardless of position. Linebacker play has been inconsistent for Miami the last two seasons. UCLA transfer Caleb Johnson is the projected starting middle LB for Miami in 2022.

Corey Flagg and Waynmon Steed who led the Miami Hurricanes in tackles in 2021 return this season. Flagg, a Mike or MLB, led Miami with 60 tackles and added seven tackles for loss, three sacks and one interception in 2021. Steed had 55 tackles, 3.4 TFLs and one sack as an outside LB for Miami in 2021.

At 6’1, 230 pounds, Johnson provides Miami with more size than the 5’11, 230 Flagg and 6’0, 225 Steed. Most of the LBs on the Miami Hurricanes roster weigh 210 pounds or less. Miami needs more bulk and length at LB on the roster. Freshman Wesley Bissainthe is 6’1, 205 but will bulk up more during his Miami career.

Bissainthe is the most talented LB on the Miami roster. As Steele stated if Bissainthe can show he is one of the two best LBs he will play. Miami will use a hybrid defensive back/LB known as the star position to replace the striker. Gilbert Frierson and Keontra Smith are listed as LBs and were the primary strikers in 2021.

"“And this system can get both the two best ‘backers…It doesn’t have to be in regular defense, it’s SAM, Mike, Will…We will get the two best guys on the field and will tweak our call. We are not going to make a call and have one of the best players on the field standing [on the sideline].If we’ve got two Mikes better than any of the [outside linebackers], we’ve got to tweak things.”"

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald quoted defensive line coach Joe Salave’a that Miami could use UCLA transfer Mitchell Agude at LB. Agude played outside LB at UCLA but is expected to be an edge rusher in the 4-3 defense under Steele and his co-defensive coordinator Charlie Strong.

Sophomore safety James Williams could potentially play star, but Miami never considered moving him to LB according to Steele. Steele reiterated with Williams that Miami is committed to getting the 11 best players on the field defensively. Miami is deepest on the DL with the addition of five transferring during the offseason.

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The expectation should be that Miami will use players in multiple formations and positions. Flagg, Johnson and Steed will likely be the corps at LB to begin the 2022 season. Miami needs better production from its LBs in 2022. Miami will have a two weeks to make those tweaks before playing at Texas A&M week three.