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

Joel Auerbach

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.

This is the defensive line breakdown:

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The line play was bad this year, and because of that, it feels like it was REALLY bad last year. However, without the stats to back that up, there's no way of knowing, right? Wait...what? You mean I have access to damn blogger stats?

And away we go!

2011 Stats Tackles Tackles For Loss Sacks
Marcus Forston 5 1 1
Adewale Ojomo 19 3.5 1.5
Micanor Regis 41 6.5 2
Marcus Robinson 37 7.5 5
Andrew Smith 24 2 0
Olivier Vernon 18 3.5 1.5
Chris Dunckel 1 0 0
Curtis Porter 10 1 0
Darius Smith 21 3 1
Anthony Chickillo 38 6.5 5
Shayon Green 7 .5 0
Olsen Pierre
4
.5 0
TOTALS 225 35.5 17

And the table for 2012:

2012 Stats Tackles Tackles For Loss Sacks
Kelvin Cain 13 1 1
Anthony Chickillo 45 6.5 4
Shayon Green 67 2 0
Jalen Grimble 6 0 0
Jelani Hamilton 6 1 0
Dequan Ivery 3 0 0
Corey King 13 0 0
Tyriq McCord 15 3.5 3.5
Earl Moore 6 0 0
Olsen Pierre 27 5 1.5
Curtis Porter 9 2.5 0
Luther Robinson 13 0 0
Darius Smith 11 1 1
TOTALS 234 22.5 11

Ok. Want to know the first thing that these stats tell me? We had the same defensive coach both years. Granted, you could say that these numbers aren't great either year, but let's set that aside for just a second. In 2011, Miami's total defense was ranked 46th. In 2012, 117th. People (some people, not all people) want to blame the defensive coach for this. I get that, I do, but the above stats help lend credence to the fact that it was not on his shoulders. The total defense includes all defensive positions, but since we are just looking at the defensive line, study those two tables for a second. See anything of note? Let me help.

The main difference between the two are the disparity between tackles for loss and sacks. 2012 produced 13 less tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 6 less sacks along the line. WELL YEAH CAUSE THE DEFENSIVE CORCH IS TURRBLE. No, he isn't. Just 2 players, TWO, more than account for that drop in numbers just by graduating. Marcus Robinson and Micanor Regis both were seniors in 2011, they didn't leave early, and they together accounted for 14 tackles for loss and 7 sacks. Those two guys BY THEMSELVES account for the drop in production. I haven't even included the guys who left early like Ojomo, Forston, and Vernon. Basically, the drop in production, while spearheaded by awful defensive line play, is attributable more to the guys that graduated or left early than it is to anything Coach D did on the sidelines. Now, on to that "but the stats are bad both years" narrative...

It's true. The defensive line stats have not been great during Coach D's first two years. However he, like Golden, was handed a team that was more or less in shambles, and has had to work hard to both get them back up to strength and implement his defensive scheme into a roster with a bunch of guys who aren't fully compatible with it. Not only that, but he was more or less handed a bunch of middle-range recruits at the beginning of 2012 and was told to replace the seniors and juniors who had left the team, most of whom accounted for the majority of the defensive line production.

So why should he be shoveled out the door as a result of a decline in stats when you could argue that he has been given a much tougher job of rebuilding than Golden was? His 2012 line had two seniors on it: Darius Smith and Chris Dunckel. CHRIS. DUNCKEL. The rest were underclassmen that were out of shape and just starting to learn the scheme that he wants to run. The freshmen were mostly guys who, in all honesty, may not have played much on many other teams (it's no secret that the 33-recruit 2012 class was mainly that large because Golden was prepping for the sanctions we thought were coming then, not because all 33 of those kids were fantastic ball players.)

I'm not saying that Coach D shoulders exactly zero of the responsibility for the defense's bad play. I'll be the first to admit that there were games when he looked over matched (I swear to Shalala if any of you so much as mention the Virginia game, when we were missing three of our best overall defenders, I'm going to eat the face off of a hobo), but that will happen to any coach. Hell, Lord Tzaban even looked a bit out of place when faced with the task of containing Johnny Football. Other times, he was simply trying to plug and play a bunch of youthful guys when others were either hurt or suspended, and he was trying to make something, anything work. I'll go on record as saying that if the defense is not improved next year, that Coach D needs to be on the hot seat, but when you look at the roster, and you look at the fact that in his defenses the older they got the better they got, I have a feeling that we won't have anything to worry about this year. So calm the hell down :)

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