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Marsh’s Mailbag: New DL coach Todd Stroud, NFL Combine, 2019 expectations.

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Todd Stroud in as Jess Simpson is gone, what Canes showed out the most at the Combine, and what should realistic expectations be for 2019?

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

How concerned are you about Jess Simpson leaving on a scale of 1-10?

Not so much concerned about Todd Stroud replacing coach Simpson as I am to see Jess leave. Simpson did a fantastic job in 2018 with Miami, when you look at the season Gerald Willis, Joe Jackson and Jonathan Garvin had.

Canes fans shouldn't be concerned at all with Stroud coming in as the new DL coach. He has a great track record, and the talent that Miami has on the line with Garvin, Trevon Hill, Nesta Silvera, Gregory Rousseau and others is incredible.

Is Todd Stroud any good?

Yes, he’s very good. He was the defensive line coach for NC State in the mid-2000’s and helped develop Mario Williams into a number-one draft pick in the NFL. In 2015, his Akron defense ranked third in the nation in run defense, and in 2017 they were eighth in defensive touchdowns. Everywhere he’s gone, his defense has seen results.

What Hurricane impressed you the most at the Combine?

I think they all did really well in the capacity they participated. Travis Homer ran one of the faster 40-times for a RB, and Sheldrick Redwine had an impressive 40-time and his jumping numbers were great too. Michael Jackson though had the the best Combine in my opinion however. Jackson ran a 4.45 40 and was near the tops for all around scores for cornerbacks.

Besides Jeff Thomas and K.J. Osborn, who’s your third receiver for 2019?

My third receiver for the Canes this year is Brian Hightower. He wasn’t able to show too much last season because of some injuries that plagued him, but in the time that he was in, it was clear that this kid has special talent. He has great size too at 6”3 and 210 lbs, so look for him to have a breakout year. Mark Pope is going to make some noise as well.

Are any of the transfers not going to be participating in spring ball?

That’s a great question, and one I don't know too much about. There’s several players that could fit into this dilemma, Tate Martell, Asa Martin and Jaelan Phillips. Though, and I'm not an expert on NCAA rules, but I've heard that transfer players are still able to practice and train with their new team, just can’t play in actual games.

Because Manny Diaz is a first year head coach, what are your realistic expectations for 2019?

Many people get on me a lot because they think I'm more of a negative Canes fan, but I'm not. I’m hearing a lot of folks talk about an 11-win season in 2019, which could very well happen. To me, my realistic expectations this season for coach Diaz and Miami would be to win 10 games and capture the Coastal Division. For a first year coach with nearly an entire new coaching staff, I'd say that’s realistic.

Of all the transfer players, which one will make the biggest impact in 2019?

Again, that all depends on who is able to play this season. I think Martell could make a huge difference for the Miami offense. Not enough people are giving Tommy Kennedy recognition, and I think he could have the biggest impact on offense, just because the Hurricanes offensive line desperately needs an upgrade. I also believe Bubba Bolden is going to have a monster year on defense.

Who’s one or two recruits Miami fans need to watch closely?

First recruit I'm going to watch extremely close is WR Jermaine Burton out of Calabasas (CA), formerly at IMG Academy in Bradenton (FL). Burton is a four-star receiver who is a playmaker. Once committed to the Canes, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Second player is offensive tackle Issiah Walker Jr. Walker is a South Carolina commit for 2020, but the Miami native recently landed an offer from the Hurricanes. Also, this four-star OL would be huge for the Canes as Miami is losing offensive lineman after 2019.

What position battle are you most excited for on defense in the spring?

Without a doubt it’s at cornerback. Michael Jackson is gone, which leaves an open starter at CB opposite of Trajan Bandy. It’ll be between D.J. Ivey and Al Blades Jr., and I believe both of those guys have what it takes to start for Miami. Both Blades Jr. and Ivey played sparingly in 2018, and they both need to develop the confidence that it takes to be an everyday starter on a top-ranked defense like the Canes.

What’s going to be the biggest difference in a Blake Baker defense?

Having worked with Manny Diaz already, new DC Baker’s defense is going to look very similar to what we’ve seen in the past few years at Miami. One thing, small item is that Baker sometimes had his defensive ends playing standing up. I do expect a ton of pressure and aggressive play. Under Baker in 2018, Louisiana Tech was fourth in the NCCA in sacks per game (3.4) With players like Jonathan Garvin and Trevon Hill, I'd expect Miami’s defense to be in quarterbacks face all season long.