While the 2015 NFL Draft was great for the Miami Hurricanes brand, it left a wide hole in the team’s defense.
The likes of Denzel Perryman, Anthony Chickillo, Thurston Armbrister and Ladarius Gunter all left for the NFL and with them went 235 tackles, 10 sacks and six created turnovers from the 2014 squad in Coral Gables.
There aren’t as many big names like that in this year’s group, but with great depth and an emphasis on creating turnovers and negative yardage plays, this 2015 defense could soar past last season’s version.
“We want to be more disruptive, more [tackles for loss], more sacks, improving in the red zone and improving on third down and takeaways,” defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said when asked about the priorities of the defense this season. “Those are areas we’ve had success with at different times over the past couple years, but we just have to get consistent.”
While trying to get to that level of consistency with a new approach sounds nice, the scheme often breaks down at some point and the team has to go to their bread and butter. For this defense, depth is the key to success.
“When you have a defensive line with a lot of depth that can just keep pounding and keep punching the offensive line and keep getting physical with them all game, it’s just an advantage to the defense,” senior nose tackle Calvin Heurtelou said.
Even with the depth chart rolled out a week before the team’s first game against Bethune-Cookman, it seems at almost every position that two or three guys could eventually fill the spot.
With the depth, versatility and new approach, the Hurricanes have also implemented a new 4-3 speed package designed to get quicker guys to rush the quarterback. While this package hasn’t seen live-game action yet, it’s clear the coaching staff loves what they are seeing.
“Oh yeah, this is fun,” Golden said when asked if the personnel finally could match the scheme. “Just seeing the guys compete and having all the [nose tackles] look the same and all the [defensive] ends kind of look the same, having some speed rushers, this is good.”
No, this group doesn’t have the star names, but with the personnel and depth finally ready to fit the scheme, the Canes could feature a nasty defense this season.