I wrote a piece a while ago about how Miami’s offensive line will make or break the 2018 season. That remains especially true when you read what I have put together for you guys – a list of the top pass rushing teams Miami will face this fall. There are some team’s that won’t make this list, but still have some very good talent. I need to give a shout out to Zach Allen, a Boston College DE that may be one of the best pass rushers we will face all year. Boston College won’t make this list, but that is a name you will want to remember. Let’s get this thing started.
Five out of Pitt’s front seven will be seniors in 2018. There are experienced pass rushers such as sophomore DE Rashad Weaver, who had three sacks as a true freshman, and redshirt senior LB Oluwaseun Idowu, who contributed five sacks of his own. Together, the Pitt front seven is returning 11 sacks – more than FSU and Virginia Tech. We saw the chaos they could create a year ago when they knocked off Miami late in the season. Do not count out Pitt and their pass rush in 2018.
The Cavaliers are another team that truly shocked me when I broke down everything. I had to put them in here because the numbers simply do not lie. 14.5 sacks. That is how many sacks Virginia brings back just in the front seven. That is more than any other school on Miami’s schedule. Chris Peace is a senior OLB for Virginia and quietly lead all ACC linebackers in sacks with 7.5. Peace was selected as an ACC-Honorable Mention.
The only thing that keeps me from putting Virginia higher is the fact that 12.5 of their 14.5 returning sacks come from their linebackers. It does not seem like they have an established defensive line although tight end turned defensive end, Richard Burney, had an amazing spring and is their hope at a true pass rusher.
Duke comes in second in returning sacks among teams the Hurricanes will face in 2018 with 12. Five of their six up front are returning — which is always a good sign. Especially when you factor in their production from a year ago. This Duke pass rush could end up being one of the sneakiest in all of the ACC. Five of their 12 sacks are coming up front from their talented defensive line led by defensive end Victor Dimukeje, a first-team Freshman All-American in 2017, and Tre Hornbuckle, who had seven quarterback pressures in 2017.
Joe Giles-Harris is not only excellent at creating tackles for loss, but he excels at getting to the quarterback. The Blue Devils star linebacker and pre-season second team All-American had 4.5 sacks and nine QB pressures last year. Alongside Giles-Harris is senior linebacker Ben Humphries who generated 2.5 sacks and had nine QB pressures of his own. This is a dynamic group that Miami will host in early November.
2. LSU Tigers
LSU had 39 sacks as a team in 2017, but a lot of those are gone to the NFL. In come Ed Alexander, Texas Tech transfer Breiden Fehoko and junior linebacker Michael Divinity Jr. to LSU’s (projected) starting defense. Of course, you have guys such as All-American linebacker Devin White, who had 4.5 sacks in 2017 and edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson.
Defensive end Rashard Lawrence returns as well and is expected to have a much bigger junior year. This group is absolutely loaded for LSU and it will be a nice and early test to see where the Miami offensive line is and how they are going to handle a top-notch pass rushing effort.
LSU defensive coordinator Dave Arranda is highly valued by Ed Orgeron and is a guy who will bring the heat as much as possible. Book it.
As much as I relied on numbers and facts to build this list, I am sort of completely throwing them out of the window here. Florida State does not particularly “wow” you when you look at the stat sheet, but they have two players that the rest of these teams do not: Brian Burns and Joshua Kaindoh. I truly believe those are two of the best pass rushers Miami will see throughout all of 2018 and they happen to play on the same defensive line. Kaindoh appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman and had four sacks on the year, despite not being a starter. At 6’7 and 247 pounds, per FSU’s official roster, Kaindoh has all the physical tools to become one of the nation’s premier pass rushers.
Brian Burns is a massive 6’5 defensive end with 11 career sacks. There is no way you can game plan just for Burns with the threat of Kaindoh as well. Those two working on the same line is going to give offensive line’s a nightmare – hopefully one Miami can wake up from come October 6th.
However, FSU will have to replace a defensive tackle, every linebacking spot, and three spots in the defensive backfield in 2018. Defenive coordinator Harlon Barnett will have his hands full trying to fill those spots.
Top Pass Rushing Team on Miami’s Schedule in 2018?
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