Miami Hurricanes 2022 defensive success depends on LB play

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

The key to success for the 2022 Miami Hurricanes defense will depend on the play of its linebackers. None of the Miami LBs finished in the top 20 grades on the roster last season according to Pro Football Focus via David Lake of Inside the U. The play of the Miami LBs has dropped precipitously since 2019.

Miami has not been able to replace four-year starters Michael Pinckney and Shaq Quarterman since they completed their eligibility following the 2019 season. Quarterman completed his career as the ninth leading tackler in Miami history. Corey Flagg and Waynmon Steed return as the starting LBs for Miami in 2022.

Flagg led the Miami Hurricanes with 60 tackles in 2021 and Steed was second with 54. UCLA transfer Corey Johnson has been projected as the starting middle LB throughout since he committed to Miami. Flagg has been the best LB in training camp per position coach and co-defensive coordinator Charlie Strong.

At 5’11, 230 pounds, many analysts are concerned about Flagg being undersized. Miami is keeping the hybrid defensive back/LB position but transitioning from calling it striker to star. Gilbert Frierson and Keontra Smith who were the primary strikers for Miami in 2021 return in 2022.

Strong and co-defensive coordinator Kevin Steele were hired in part to significantly upgrade the LB play in 2022. Strong praised Flagg for his instincts, knowledge of the game and work ethic. Johnson is the only LB on the Miami roster not undersized in some way at 6’1, 235 pounds.

Flagg and Johnson are the only Miami LBs who weigh at least 230 pounds. The lack of size for Miami at LB could be challenging against more physical teams. Chase Smith can play the more traditional LB position or star. Miami also likes the potential of true freshman Wesley Bissainthe at LB who should challenge for playing time in 2022.

Strong says FLagg has been best LB in training camp. dark. Next

An analyst told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that Steed is steady but that the Miami LBs are not physically imposing. Miami needs playmakers at LB. Miami has lacked impact LBs since Pinckney and Quarterman graduated following the 2019 season. Finding playmakers at LB in 2022 will be difficult for Miami.