Miami football edge rusher production elite despite injuries

Oct 21, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 21, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite starters Nyjalik Kelly and Akheem Mesidor suffering season-ending injuries, the Miami football team continues to get elite production from its edge rushers. Miami is 12th nationally and leads the ACC in tackles for loss and is 10th in the country and second in the conference in sacks entering week 10.

Linebacker Francisco Mauigoa has helped the Miami football team make up for the loss of Kelly and Mesidor by leading the Hurricanes with 11 TFLs and contributing 3.5 sacks. True freshman Rueben Bain has been exceptional with 7.5 TFLs and leads Miami with 6.5 sacks. Bain has started the last six games.

The last two games have been breakout performances by Bain. Against Clemson and Virginia in the last two weeks, Bain has combined for 15 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks. The ACC named Bain its Defensive Lineman of the Week for his dominant performances versus Clemson and Virginia.

Mario Cristobal reported that Kelly was lost for the season last week and provided the update that Meisdor will not play again this season during his weekly meeting with reporters on Monday. Mesidor had 38 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and led Miami with seven sacks while earning honorable mention All-ACC in 2022.

Miami has 31 TFLs and 16 sacks in the last three games. Kelly played the first two games of the season and against Georgia Tech and North Carolina before being lost for the season. The most productive game for Kelly in 2023 was four tackles and a 0.5 TFL versus North Carolina on October 14.

Mesidor had five tackles, one TFL and one sack in three games this season. The North Carolina was also the last game Mesidor played this season. With both players participating in four games or less they could potentially petition the NCAA for a redshirt season. Kelly has not taken a redshirt season yet.

As a true sophomore Kelly should be able to take a redshirt season. Mesidor will be entering his fifth season of college football in 2023. If he wants a redshirt season in 2023, he would likely have to petition the NCAA. Mesidor is in his second season with the Miami football program after transferring from West Virginia.

Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald quoted Cristobal praising Mesidor “We miss him because he’s a great player…Every day from him it’s pressure, it’s disrupting people, knocking people in the backfield, causing negative plays.’’ Jahfari Harvey started opposite Bain versus Virginia on Saturday.

Harvey has 19 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery. Jared Harrison-Hunte who has primarily been a defensive tackle during his Miami career has also received time at edge rusher. Miami has versatile defensive lineman Jacob Lichtenstein who can play end and tackle.

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Miami defensive coordinator Lance Guidry and line coaches Joe Salave’a and Jason Taylor are getting great production out of the remaining edge rushers. Bain is pushing for All-ACC and almost guaranteed to be a Freshman All-American. Miami plays three of the top six offensive lines in the ACC preventing sacks in their final four games.