Spring football is just a week away for the Miami Hurricanes. An exciting offseason is finally turning to the shoulder pads as new head coach Manny Diaz leads his team to the practice field for the first time in 2019.
For the Canes defensively, they’re trying to build off a year in 2018 which saw Miami become one of the dominant defenses in the nation. While the Hurricanes lost several players on that side of the ball, they also return shoe-in starters such as linebackers Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney, plus defensive end Jonathan Garvin.
Still, those seniors who are now gone, also Joe Jackson, their positions are now empty and looking for a replacement. Thankfully for Miami’s defense, depth is not the problem at some of those positions, it’s finding the right starter.
Michael Jackson is gone, which leaves Trajan Bandy as the starter on one side for the second straight season, but leaving the other side unfilled. Right now, it looks like D.J. Ivey and Al Blades Jr. will be the ones challenging for the other starting role at CB. Both going into their sophomore season, Blades Jr. and Ivey saw significant time in 2018, though most of their time was spent on special teams. Ivey presents a slightly larger frame, Blades Jr. however is known for being more physical.
O - Mark Pope— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) January 24, 2019
D - DJ Ivey https://t.co/Ja2sY5D8bJ
Like the cornerbacks, the defensive tackle also lost a starter in Gerald Willis. However, unlike the cornerbacks, Miami has to find two starters and not just one. During 2018, it was hard to pick out who was going to be guys for the next season. It’s expected that sophomore Nesta Jade Silvera will be one of the staters, and most people would agree that he has the most talent at DT for Miami. For the most part however, it really is an open race to see who starts alongside him. Senior Pat Bethel started 12 games in 2018 next to Willis and showed potential. Jonathan Ford, junior, is a player who Canes are eagerly anticipating his breakout season. Finally, you have UCLA grad-transfer Chigozie Nnoruka who, when the system fits him, is a game changer.
You also have the safety position with the addition of Bubba Bolden, but he won’t be participating in spring ball, so that’ll be a conversation for a later day. Though once he’s in Miami, that’ll be one of the more interesting battles to watch between him, Amari Carter and Gurvan Hall.
Fortunately for new defensive coordinator Blake Baker, his defense isn’t full of too many holes or lackadaisical areas.