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Early Look at 2020: Defense & Special Teams

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Miami is talented and experienced along the line and on the back-end.

Central Michigan v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The stench from Miami’s 30-24 loss to FIU still lingers, but that doesn’t stop optimism on my behalf for next season. 2020 hopefully will be better than 2019. We took a look at the talent returning on the offensive side last week, so this week we turn our attention to the defensive side. Miami was very young in the secondary this year, and now with a year experience under their belt, the Canes should be solid back there. The same can be said about the defensive line, although Miami will have to replace Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney at LB.

Defensive End

Miami v Florida International Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Gregory Rousseau

Jahfari Harvey

Scott Patchan

Jaelan Phillips

Jonathan Garvin

Cameron Williams

Chantz Williams

Elijah Roberts

Quentin Williams

Romello Height

Miami will have a star in Gregory Rousseau and a lot of quality depth here. I’m projecting Jonathan Garvin returning for his senior season, and Scott Patchan getting a 6th year from the NCAA. Jaelan Phillips is intriguing coming off injury, though he may play LB for the Canes, he is a former 5 star prospect who sat out 2019. If Garvin does leave, look for Harvey to step into a bigger role.

Defensive Tackle

Virginia v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Nesta Jade Silvera

Jared Harrison-Hunte

Jordan Miller

Jason Blissett

Jonathan Ford

Jalar Holley

Tyreic Martin

Willie Moise

Miami has a lot of quality at defensive tackle as well. Jonathan Ford will be the rock inside, and one of the better run stoppers in the country. Silvera blossomed as a sophomore and should be even better next season. Jordan Miller is becoming a force inside, and I’m very interested to see what Harrison-Hunte, Blissett and Holley bring to the table.

Linebacker/Striker

Florida State v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Zach McCloud

Sam Brooks

Avery Huff

Waynmon Steed

Ryan Ragone

Bradley Jennings

Patrick Joyner

AJ Mathis

Tirek Austin-Cave

Corey Flagg

Striker

Gilbert Frierson

It will look totally different for Miami in 2020 at LB and Striker with Quarterman, Pinckney and Romeo Finley all leaving for the NFL. The Canes got a boost with Zach McCloud deciding to take a Redshirt season and come back for a 5th year. Miami has some young, albeit inexperienced talent on the team who will need to step up. Justin Flowe would be an instant impact starter if he decides to attend Miami which doesn’t seem likely. Frierson has been groomed to be the next Striker, and should move into this role fairly easily.

Cornerback

Virginia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Trajan Bandy

Al Blades Jr

DJ Ivey

Christian Williams

Te’Cory Couch

Marcus Clarke

Miami has to hope that Trajan Bandy comes back for his senior season and that Blades and Ivey improve on their 1st year starting. Williams and Couch are young but talented prospects who will have a bigger role in 2020. The depth here is scary thin, so Manny Diaz may have to hit the transfer portal or JUCO route to add to this group.

Safety

Virginia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Gurvan Hall

Bubba Bolden

Amari Carter

Keontra Smith

Brian Balom

Keyshawn Washington

Hall, Bolden and Carter will make a great threesome at the safety position in 2020. Bolden was really rounding into form before his unfortunate injury against FSU. Hall is slowly becoming that playmaker that we all envisioned, and Carter loves to lay the wood. Miami has front end talent but will need some of the youngsters to help with depth.

Special Teams

Bethune-Cookman v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Bubba Baxa

Camden Price

Turner “McKicken” Davidson

Lou Hedley

Jack Spicer

Kicking was atrocious this year and directly cost Miami at least 2 wins, if not more. Baxa has a huge leg but no confidence, Price seemed to hold down the job, but what is his range, and McKickin probably won’t be McKickin again. Hedley is a weapon as a punter, and has drastically improved that aspect of Miami’s special teams. I won’t take a guess yet as to who will return kicks and punts, but the Canes have plenty of athletes to choose from.

After a rough week, looking ahead gives me confidence that Miami can be good a year from now. Both sides of the ball are young, so if Manny Diaz and staff can get some quality improvements in game plan and execution the Canes could be on the rise in 2020.

A positive article….weird I know.