Miami football defense will look very different in fall than spring

The Miami football team will look very different defensively when they start fall training camp than they do during spring practice with multiple key players out with injuries.

Dec 28, 2023; Bronx, NY, USA; Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman Rueben Bain Jr. (44) and linebacker
Dec 28, 2023; Bronx, NY, USA; Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman Rueben Bain Jr. (44) and linebacker / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive coordinator Lance Guidry has had to adjust first-team snaps this spring with several players out due to injuries. The Miami football team will look very different in August training camp than during spring practice, with five key players currently out.

Defensive linemen Armondo Blount, Nyjalik Kelly and Akheem Mesidor, middle linebacker Francisco Mauigoa and cornerback Damari Brown are key players out this spring for Miami. Kelly or Mesidor, Mauigoa and Brown are all projected starters for Miami in 2024. Brown and Mauigoa are nearly guaranteed starters this fall.

Kelly and Mesidor missed most of the 2023 season with injuries. Blount is one of three five-star 2024 Miami freshmen signees. Mauigoa was 2024 second-team All-ACC and Brown is expected to have a much bigger role in 2024. The offense was reportedly ahead of the defense during the first week of spring practice.

David Lake of Inside the U reported that Miami did not practice in full pads last week. With the first week of spring practice behind them, Miami is on spring break this week. Mario Cristobal and his staff will begin to have more of an idea of where players are in their development when spring practice resumes next week.

With Kelly and Mesidor out, Marshall transfer Elijah Alston has reportedly practiced as the first-team edge rusher opposite 2024 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year Rueben Bain. Alston had 108 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, five pass breakups, four forced fumbles, one interception and one fumble recovery in four seasons at Marshall.

Wesley Bissainthe has become the de facto leader of the LBs, with Mauigoa out this spring. Sophomores Raul Aguiire and Marcellius Pulliam and freshman Cameron Pruitt have reportedly been the most impressive LBs this spring with Bissainthe. Aguirre appears to be the leader to start at LB in 2024, next to Bissainthe and Mauigoa.

Depth is the biggest concern for Miami at CB. Brown and Porter are the projected starting CBs for Miami. Junior Jadais Richard will likely benefit the most from Brown being out this spring. Miami needs more consistency from Richard in 2024. At 6'2, Richard provides Miami with needed length at outside CB.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported "Richard allowed 11 of the 15 targets against him to be caught, for 160 yards in 2023." With Richard expected to receive more playing time this season, Miami needs improvement in coverage from the former Vanderbilt transfer.

Seven of the 10 2024 signees who arrive later this year are on defense. Five-star defensive tackle Justin Scott and four-star edge rusher Booker Pickett Jr. have the best chance among late enrollees to contribute as freshmen. Scott is likely to be a part of the rotation at DT. Scott has a tougher challenge at the deepest position for Miami.

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Miami will likely add more transfers when the portal opens next month when programs conclude spring practice. Cornerback is the position to watch for Miami on defense. Miami needs to add more CB depth for 2024. The returns of the injured players, potential new transfers and incoming freshmen will give Miami a different look defensively in August.