Finding your place on a roster is no easy task. You’re told what your role is going to be, roughly what the trajectory of your college career can be and ultimately what the program will do for you, both educationally and athletically. The one aspect of sport that no one but the cruel football gods themselves can predict is how injuries can delay, prevent or even stop a player from realizing their potential.
For redshirt junior DE Scott Patchan, overcoming multiple injuries grew to be a monolithic barrier to start his college career. A three-star prospect from Tampa, Florida, Patchan has a healthy lineage in the football world. Scott’s father, Matt Patchan, was part of two national title championship teams as a member of the Miami Hurricanes in 1983 and 1987. Older brother Matt played for Florida and Boston during his collegiate career. Patchan enrolled in the football factory of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where his game matched the lofty expectations that came with his surname.
Two seasons removed from overcoming two torn ACLs in the same knee in consecutive years to start out his collegiate career, Patchan finally appeared to be ready to make some noise as a defender. Each injury sending the legacy Hurricane back on the humble path of rehab, attempting to not only regain his form before the injuries, but to improve (despite not seeing game action). After having a couple seasons wiped out due to injury, Patchan switched from DE to TE, providing depth at the latter position for the shorthanded Canes. After not recording a single reception in his time on offense, Patchan moved back to his natural position of DE, returning to the defense. However, in his second stint as a defender, No. 19 worked as a traditional hand on the ground 4-3 defensive end. It’s clear that Patchan thrives as a 4-3 DE, illustrated by his 23 total tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack and one forced fumble this year.
Considering that Patchan lines up in rotation with fellow DEs Joe Jackson and Jonathan Garvin, the numbers don’t tell the whole story of his importance to the defense. What makes Miami’s defense so potent is that they can attack you with waves of personnel. Can we avoid applying the high motor tag to this DE? Not likely. Patchan may not win on his initial rush up the field, but he keeps fighting through blocks to help set the edge in run defense, while simultaneously containing the QB in the pocket. Patchan is stout at the point of attack, fighting off double teams, making sure to keep his vision into the backfield. Scott Patchan works best in one-on-one situations where he can employ a rip or swim move with the blocker on an island. Patchan’s ability to cross the face of a blocker on passing downs, forcing the tackle to recover is an underappreciated aspect of his game.
That experience as a stand up linebacker has proven useful this past season, with the DE sometimes tasked with covering running backs out of the backfield. Considering the talent of Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor, it’ll be fascinating to see if UM decides to employ this strategy in the bowl game.
When the Hurricanes travel to New York before the end of the month for the Pinstripe Bowl, look for Patchan provide a similar output to what he’s provided through 11 games. With the DE continuing to bring energy off of the sidelines when the starters are out of the game, anchoring down at the point of attack. Against Wisconsin’s competent offensive line, the battle to secure the edge will be the most difficult task of the season. If the Canes hope to limit the Badgers on the ground, it starts with gap control. Preventing blockers from getting to the second and sometimes third level of the defense will help the Canes slow down the Wisconsin run game. After overcoming adversity early in his career, expect No. 19 to be a vital part of the Hurricanes’ chances of defeating the Badgers next week.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!