What’s the one downside to an outstanding defensive performance? When you set the bar high, you’re then expected to reach that level every time you touch the field.
But for linebacker Denzel Perryman, it’s all in a day’s work.
The junior, out of Coral Gables Senior High, recorded 13 tackles and one forced fumble to set up a Hurricane touchdown in the Sept. 7 rivalry game against the University of Florida.
“My goals don’t change. I just want to keep playing the way I played, and I can’t do that unless the defensive line, they keep me free, you saw how they did it,” Perryman said. “They gotta go out there and do it the same on Saturday as they did last week against Florida.”
On Saturday, the No. 16/17 Hurricanes (2-0) play host to the Savannah State Tigers (1-2) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
It will be a day of several firsts: the first time in history the teams will meet, and Al Golden’s first game as head coach of an AP Top 25 team.
Following its 21-16 win over Florida, then ranked No. 12, the Hurricanes made their first appearance in the rankings since November 2010. There have been 38 polls released since then.
Miami climbed to 15th in the Sept. 8 poll and slipped one spot to No. 16 after its bye week.
Golden hadn’t been a part of a ranked team since Oct. 16, 2005, when he was the defensive coordinator at Virginia.
The Canes will maintain their high standards of play, even against a Savannah State team that might have been overlooked on the schedule.
“We pretty much know, we talk to the younger guys … it’s another game, no matter who the opponent is. They’re still another team, we always need to go out there and execute,” Perryman said.
The defense as a whole has progressed from question marks and uncertainty into a cohesive unit – a line that puts pressure on quarterbacks and a secondary always in position to capitalize on the errors forced by teammates.
Miami ranks second nationally in red zone defense, holding opponents to just one rushing touchdown and three field goals in eight red zone trips.
Just how good is this squad? So far, Miami has allowed only two touchdowns in the last 220:30 at home and ranks 34th among Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools in total defense with 331.5 yards per game.
Fans can take comfort in knowing the Canes are also producing on the offensive side of the ball.
Miami’s offensive line has allowed only two sacks through two games, putting them 18th among FBS schools.
The matchup against the Gators set an all-time attendance record for a UM game at Sun Life with more than 76,000 fans filling the seats.
The support generated by that kind of a crowd is undeniable.
“The sellout stadium, for a lot of guys, that’s the biggest game they’ve ever played, and you know having a large crowd at a home game, a real big game, we definitely had the home field advantage,” Perryman said. “When the crowd gets loud, somebody makes some plays, the stadium noise, it just brought energy to me.”
But that doesn’t mean Miami will be less motivated when they take the field in front of a calmer audience for their third game.
Coming off a bye week, the Canes haven’t missed a beat when it comes to practice, intensity or focus.
“By no means are we a finished product or are we satisfied,” defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said in a press conference Tuesday. “It’s a good start where we’re at – we’re 2-0. But we’ll improve in some areas. I expect us to work hard and improve.”