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Defense Steps Up, But Still Has a Long Way To Go To Be Competitive

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The Miami defense stepped up in the second half, but still has a long way to go before Clemson comes in next week. Miami gave up too many yards to a very mediocre Virginia Tech offense that was led for the most part by a backup quarterback and a true freshman running back.

Artie Burns tackles the VT running back on a catch in the flat
Artie Burns tackles the VT running back on a catch in the flat
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami might have caused four turnovers on defense, but they still gave up a lot of yards. They gave up big chunks of yards via the pass and the run and there is cause for concern with Clemson coming in next week as they do both very well and could be a top-five team coming in to the game.

"I think they played better. They saw the ball better. Our gap integrity was better. They came to work all week. We had some concerns going into the game because of how they settled in last Friday night. Both of those tight ends are good players, getting the ball to [Travon] McMillian more, obviously [Isaiah] Ford is coming on and [Brenden] Motley beat s a couple of times with his feet," Miami coach Al Golden said. "We have to get rid of those explosive runs. We hadn’t been that last year. We didn’t give up many explosive runs a year ago, and now we’re giving up too many. Gap integrity, have good force. I thought we played hard. We were aggressive, played a lot of people and Juwon Young really stepped up In Raphael [Kirby’s] absence."

The Hurricanes have been better on defense since the first half debacle against Florida State last week, but if they are going to finish the season strong and compete for the Coastal, they are going to need to protect the edge and fight for more gap integrity, especially against Clemson, who runs the ball extremely well.

"We are an attack defense. We attacked Nebraska the whole game and let them out, and they had X plays. We are a 50 percent zone-pressure or man-pressure team," Golden said, "We finished some plays in this game, which was good – whether it was the pass-rush and not running past the quarterback and getting to the level of the quarterback and getting him on the round. I don’t know how many sacks we ended up with, but certainly we were hitting him. We were getting pressure with four and five [players] which was good, and obviously the 4th and 4 was a big stop for us."

Artie Burns has really taken over the leadership in the secondary and has played very well this season. His five picks are a team high and he had two again on Saturday against Virginia Tech and he frustrated their passing game all afternoon.

"Artie is doing really well. I know he’s disappointed about the go route. He really was in pretty good position to have a finish on the hands late, so that one I know is going to sting him. But his development, his growth, his ability to see the ball in the air," Golden said. "He’s really doing a good job of trusting his technique and playing with technique. I know he’s going to be disappointed. The kid made a nice play on the sideline, give them credit. But I know Artie is going to be disappointed he didn’t have the opportunity to finish that on the sideline, but he’s getting better."