When Manny Diaz was hired to become the head coach for the Hurricanes, the vacancy at defensive coordinator was then filled by Blake Baker. Having worked with Diaz at both Louisiana Tech and Texas, we can expect to see a lot of similarities from Baker’s defense and the defense Manny ran for three years while serving as Miami’s DC.
Prior to coming to Coral Gables, Baker was the defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech for four seasons, and the Bulldogs defense and their accomplishments speak for themself. Last year, Tech’s defense was fourth in the country for sacks per game (3.46 PG) and also 25th in the nation for opponents yards per play (4.9). Baker also coached up defensive end Jaylon Ferguson, who the led the country with 17.5 sacks in 2018.
Now with the Hurricanes, their defense is in a good situation, and yet it’s a bit up in the air. Miami boasted one of the top defenses in the nation in 2018, including the country’s number-one pass defense. However, the Canes lost three starters in the secondary, as well as two more starters on the defensive line. They do have young talent like Gregory Rousseau, Nesta Jade Silvera and Gurvan Hall, but the inexperience is a little frightening.
That being said, here are five players on the defensive side of the ball who I think can have a big 2019 under Blake Baker’s system.
If you want an article going into more depth on the X’s and O’s about Baker’s defense, read this article from Justin Dottavio from back in January.
Film Room: New Defensive Coordinator Blake Baker. Expect the 2019 Hurricanes defense to look quite a bit like the 2018 ‘Canes. Baker likes pressure and letting his athletes run the field. https://t.co/C4TFnWZauC pic.twitter.com/I2P1cL3WIM— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) January 3, 2019
Jonathan Garvin -Defensive End
Entering 2019 as one of the top DE’s in the ACC and possibly the country, I think Garvin is going to have a monster junior season. I believe Garvin could have a year similar to what Jaylon Ferguson had last season with Louisiana Tech. One of my favorite things about Baker’s defense is that he’ll occasionally have his DE’s play standing up, similar to DeMarcus Ware. As you watch the film down below, you’ll see Ferguson unload on offensive lineman when standing up.
I think Garvin, more than any other defensive player is going to have a huge season in 2019.
Amari Carter -Safety/Nickel
I’m a big fan of Carter, especially because of his tackling skills. One thing that also excites me is that Baker plans on using Carter in certain nickel situations, perhaps in a blitz package where he’ll rush the quarterback. In the past, we’ve seen Carter and his blitzing skills and it’s been effective.
Miami wants to use Amari Carter coming off the side? Yeah I’m fine with that pic.twitter.com/egUumwKv6w— Caleb Smith 2019 All Star (@hurricanesmarsh) April 2, 2019
Also, Louisiana Tech’s leading tackler in 2018 was actually their safety Darryl Lewis, who also stepped up to make key interceptions as well.
Now obviously having your safety lead the team in tackles isn’t always a good thing, but because Baker is using such an aggressive style on defense, it makes me confident that Carter can get the job done. I'm also excited to see how well Carter does in coverage, and I think between his hitting skills and also speed it’ll be a big 2019 for number 5.
Shaquille Quarterman -Linebacker
Let’s be honest, Quarterman is going to have a big 2019, it doesn’t matter if I'm the defensive coordinator for hell sake. We saw 55 be more aggressive in 2018, especially when it came to rushing the quarterback, as he compiled a career-high five sacks. Baker’s defense is a little bit more blitz-happy and he likes to use a 5-man pressure, which I think Quarterman will excel in.
Week 5 @ACCFootball Players of the Week:— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) October 1, 2018
2⃣ players earn Co-LB of the week
1st up @CanesFootball's Shaq Quarterman for his 2-sack performance vs. #UNC including this hit big fumble-causing hit!#ItsAllAboutTheU pic.twitter.com/kU1Gs7bInC
Trajan Bandy -Cornerback
Bandy is a ballhawk, and last year proved that with his three interceptions. The reason why I think he’ll get even more in 2019 comes back to the Baker’s aggressive style of play and pressure on the quarterback. Louisiana Tech cornerback Amik Robertson picked off four passes in 2018, due in large part to his defensive line hurrying the opposing QB.
With Garvin and company being in the backfield constantly, look for Bandy to snag a few more interceptions this season.
Miami CB Trajan Bandy gets beat off the release, but does a great job reading the QB and recovering to make the INT. A name to watch in the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/9pIToBUZza— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) April 28, 2019
Gregory Rousseau -Defensive End
I know I'm going back to another defensive end, but after we saw the absolutely destruction that Rousseau caused in spring practice, how could I leave him off of here?
Just an observation from watching practice at the U today... Gregory Rousseau was CREATED IN A LAB IN WAKANDA! DAMN FAM!!!— Joe Williams (@JoeSkilliams) April 16, 2019
He’s a little bit lighter than Garvin, but is an absolute monster standing at 6-foot-6. Put him standing up or hands in the dirt, and Rousseau is going to blow up the opposing offensive line. He may not be starting come August 24th in Orlando, but you better believe that you’ll see 15 in the quarterbacks face all season long.