Miami defense in attack mode. ‘They like to disrupt, which is so different than last year’

UPDATED AUGUST 08, 2023 2:28 PM
The Miami Hurricanes offense won’t be the only side of the ball that attacks.
The Hurricanes’ defense has taken on an aggressive, smothering personality, reflected new defensive coordinator Lance Guidry. The coordinator last spoke to the media after Saturday’s practice and said his players fully comprehended probably “about 75 percent” of what has been installed. “But we’re going to keep adding and throw it all on the wall and see what sticks — and see what they do best. Is it blitzing? Is it sitting there playing man free? Is it sitting there playing zone? Right now it looks like they like to pressure. They like to disrupt, which is so different than last year.
“I think they’re more comfortable when they’re attacking and not sitting there waiting,’’ said Guidry, whose playbook is considerably thicker than the one of 2022 coordinator Kevin Steele, who left UM for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Guidry came to UM after spending the last two seasons at Marshall, which last season led the 130 FBS teams in third down conversion percentage defense, was 19th in red zone defense, sixth in scoring defense (16 points allowed per game), seventh in total defense (294.5 yards allowed a game), fourth in rushing defense (93 yards), sixth in passes intercepted (18) and fifth in turnovers gained (29).
UM was ranked 64th nationally in total defense (376.5 yards allowed a game) after their 5-7 finish in 2022. The Hurricanes were 97th in third down conversion percentage defense. Their scoring defense: 66th (26.8 points) after allowing 45 points in three losses (Middle Tennessee, Duke and Florida State), 42 points in the season-finale loss and 40 points at Clemson. The Canes were 54th in rushing defense (142.9), 22nd in passes intercepted (14) and 24th in turnovers gained (22) under Steele.
Guidry mentioned “a bunch of guys” that have “stood out up front, a bunch of guys getting to the quarterback. ...I think we’re rushing the passer really well.’’
Asked about true freshman defensive ends Rueben Bain (6-3, 255 out of Miami Central) and Jayden Wayne (6-6, 245 out of IMG Academy), the coach said both, plus sophomore end Nyjalik Kelly (6-4, 240 out of Fort Lauderdale Dillard), are excelling for the most part.
“Bain is consistent against the run and pass. Of course he still has a lot to learn. But I expect him to play a lot.
Jayden Wayne, it’s up and down. He plays as a freshman of course, but he’s done some good things.
“Nyjalik is still young as well. So those are the three that really stand out that really stand out will be deep in the rotation if not starters.’’
Guidry mentioned redshirt freshmen Markeith Williams and Jaden Harris as the two young players who have stood out behind starting safeties Kam Kinchens and James Williams.
“Harris has had a really good camp so far. He’s got a couple interceptions, he probably plays the ball the best. Markeith Williams probably knows the defense a little bit better than [Harris] does right now. But Harris has made a bunch of plays already, which is good to see.’’
With last year’s starting cornerbacks Tyrique Stevenson and DJ Ivey taken in the 2023 NFL Draft, UM has to fill both spots. Guidry lauded the Brown brothers — recent UCF transfer Davonte, who practiced with UM in the spring; and his younger brother Damari, who missed spring and arrived in the summer. Both young men played at Plantation American Heritage.
“At times it looks like he has been here awhile,’’ Guidry said of Damari, listed as 6-2 and 195 pounds. “Then at other times he looks like a true freshman.
“Both Brown boys are doing well. They both have the same demeanor. They don’t get too up, too down, which is good at corner. You don’t want them too emotional. But they both have great intangibles. The older Brown runs really fast. The other one probably moves a little better in and out of breaks. But they are both tall and big corners, which is what you want.”
Guidry added that Vanderbilt transfer Jadais Richard had played at that point on the outside “for a couple days” and was “doing really well, along with the Brown brothers.’’
“We got a lot of choices,’’ he said, including fifth-year senior Oklahoma transfer Jaden Davis, who was excelling at the star position through the first week.

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