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Defense Stays Dominant Part of Hurricanes Game

The Hurricanes Defense Roll Through FIU, Even Without Johnson

NCAA Football: Miami at Toledo Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

With the Perry versus Rosier debate at an all time high, fans may be tempted to focus on which of these two quarterbacks will “make or break” the season for Miami. While that’s a valuable discussion, it’s easy to forget what put the Hurricanes on the map in the first place. There’s a reason we have a turnover chain and not touchdown one.

This Saturday, Miami came into the game as the national leader in tackles for loss and third-down conversion percentage, and were able to dominate against FIU, 31-17. Though the Hurricanes didn’t cover the predicted 26.5-point spread, the Panthers only really got moving in the fourth quarter, where they had 139 yards of their total 187.

Going into the game, Miami was missing All-American preseason safety Jaquan Johnson, who was injured at the game in Toledo last week. In the second half, Johnson’s absence let the Rockets offense get some solid drives, as well as pull into a touchdown of scoring versus the heavily favored Hurricanes. Star wide receiver, Ahmmon Richards continues to suffer a knee injury in the LSU loss and didn’t play this weekend.

Even with Johnson out, Miami didn’t let a hole in their defense get to them. The Hurricanes held FIU to a mere 17 rushing years and limited the Panthers to 3 of 14 on third down conversion opportunities. To top it all off, the new Sebastian turnover chain came out in the second quarter, when Sheldrick Redwine intercepted a pass from FIU quarterback James Morgan.

“We’re seeing the benefit of again our third-down defense,” said defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz, about the team’s performance, “we’re not on the field for many plays, offense is possessing the ball, time of possession is starting to go in our favor and I could have no complaints.”

With defense running smoothly and the Hurricanes preparing for a Thursday night game against UNC, first time starters had their debut this weekend. Sophomore safety Amari Carter got to start in place of Johnson, and freshman Brian Hightower lined up at receiver with Lawrence Cager and Jeff Thomas.

Whether Rosier or Perry is in the quarterback hot seat on Thursday night, they’ll have a strong defensive arsenal they’ll need to match to lock in the starting spot.