Position Reviews: How Did The Canes Perform Compared to Last Year?

Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

State Of The U breaks down the performance of each position on the field, taking a look at comparisons to last year and what improved.

The off season of college football is a long one. Sure, recruiting helps fill the void, but nothing compares to game day and the excitement that Canes football brings. To help ease you into the post season, SOTU will be going through the position groups of this year's Hurricanes, and comparing them to the previous year's group. The purpose of this is to see how the team has changed, what improved, what didn't, and what to look forward to in 2013.

We're back again, folks, and this time we are going to break down the line backers from Miami. This was a worrisome group starting off the year, mainly because Sean Spence was gone, and he was a god. In his wake, he left Ramon Buchanon, who while good, couldn't seem to put together an injury-less season, and a whole lot of youth. You'll remember from out preseason previews on the line backers that we were extremely apprehensive about how this unit would play out. As it turns out, they played very well, albeit with some immaturity speed bumps along the way.

As we've been doing, let's take a look at the stats from 2011:

2011 Line Backer Stats
Solo Ast Tot Loss Sack INT TD FF FR TD
Denzel Perryman 47 22 69 6.5 1 0 0 2 0 0
Eddie Johnson 2 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jimmy Gaines 24 34 58 3 0 0 0 0 0 0
Akil Fentress 4 1 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tyrone Cornelius 4 3 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ramon Buchanon 11 7 18 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Thurston Armbrister 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kelvin Cain 15 5 20 0 0 1 1 1 0 0
Jordan Futch 9 11 20 2 1 0 0 0 0 0
Sean Spence 54 52 106 14 3 0 0 1 0 0
TOTALS 170 136 306 27.5 5 1 1 4 0 0

And from 2012:

2012 Line Backer Stats

Solo Ast Tot Loss Sack INT TD FF FR TD
Gabriel Terry 2 3 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Denzel Perryman 45 19 64 6 0 1 1 1 0 0
Gionni Paul 40 21 61 3.5 0 0 0 1 0 0
Raphael Kirby 9 7 16 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Eddie Johnson 39 20 59 7.5 1 1 0 3 0 0
Jimmy Gaines 34 23 57 3 0 2 0 0 1 0
Akil Fentress 9 5 14 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Tyrone Cornelius 18 13 31 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ramon Buchanon 6 4 10 .5 0 0 0 0 0 0
Thurston Armbrister 25 15 40 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kelvin Cain 8 5 13 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 235 135
370
23.5 2 4 1 6 1 0

As you can see, while the total number of tackles is greater in 2012, the important stats like tackles for loss and sacks are down. These drops can't be totally placed on the backs of the line backers themselves, because as we all know, the defense starts with the line. If there's no push up front, the line backers are forced to play less "QB hunter" and more "tackle anything that has the ball." Plus, Sean Spence was just ridiculous. I mean, 106 total tackles? The leading tackler on this year's team only had 67. Not to mention the fact that Spence had 3 sacks, which would have been good for third place behind Chick and Autobot McCord this year. There's zero question as to who has taken over his leadership role in the middle of the defense, and that's Perryman. He played very well and very quietly under Spence's shadow in 2011, but he burst onto the scene in 2012 in a huge way. He and Eddie Johnson became a very dangerous tandem, and that will only grow into a scary trio with the growth of the other guys, Kirby especially. When Raphael got his playing time, he played with that old school anger that you like to see out of your LB's. With him at 100% health, there's not a running back or wide receiver in the country that's going to want to go over the middle. Hell, just ask Bobby Eveld of South Florida, who had his red-shirt burned by Skip Holtz only to meet Perryman, who promptly separated Eveld's shoulder.

The numbers are also skewed a tiny bit due to injuries to a few guys who could have contributed early, like Kirby and Paul, and the LB leader Perryman later on. Of course, the late-season suspensions of Eddie Johnson and Gabe Terry didn't help either. However, even with these, the guys showed that they are indeed a very strong group of players, and they will only get better with another off season under their belts.

Add in recruits like Devante Bond and Alex Figueroa coming in to provide depth on the LB front, and this group will absolutely be one of the defenses strengths next year.

What are your thoughts on how the hitters performed?

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