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Do The Canes Have Enough to Contend: Defensive Line

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Miami is loaded on the defensive front, but before we crown them, there is work to be done.

Central Michigan v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Miami has 1 goal every year, and that is to win a National Championship in football. Yes, there are other small goals along the way, including beating FSU, winning the Coastal, getting to and winning the ACC title, but the ultimate goal is to put Championship trophy #6 in the trophy case. Unfortunately, outside of 2005 and 2017, the Canes haven’t been in the discussion past the month of September in most years. The question has always come up, whether it was coaching, QB play, or the overall talent on the field.

This is part 6 of 10, where I ask, Do the Canes have enough to contend for the College Football Playoffs?

Miami, historically has had some of the best defensive lines in college football history. Guys like Jerome Brown, Cortez Kennedy, Russell Maryland, Warren Sapp, Calais Campbell and many others dominated in their time in Coral Gables, and went on to have stellar NFL careers. If there is one position group on the 2020 Canes, that looks like a throwback Miami group, it’s along the defensive line.

Jerome Brown - Miami Hurricanes

End should be the position of strength on this year’s team even though Scott Patchan decided to enter the transfer portal. Miami added star Quincy Roche, and Jaelan Phillips is eligible after transferring in before the 2019 season. Miami also has plenty of depth as Manny Diaz and staff have loaded up on top quality recruits to add a huge amount of depth to an already loaded room. Gregory Rousseau is the unquestioned superstar on the defensive side of the ball, and will be a very high draft choice in the 2021 draft. Guys like Jason Blissett Jr., Jahfari Harvey, Chantz Williams and Cameron Williams are extremely talented, but will have to fight for every second of playing time behind a talented group of upperclassmen in front of them.

Tackle will be a little more untested, though there is quality at that spot as well. Nesta Jade Silvera is poised to make a huge step in 2020, and if he can master the 3 technique by using his quick penetrating ability, he could have a monster year. Jonathan Ford has developed into a solid space eater in the middle, and Jordan Miller flashed when given a chance to play. Jalar Holley and Jared Harrison-Hunt will look to make their mark in 2020 by stealing some rotation minutes from the upperclassmen.

Who WIll Be The Stars?

Gregory Rousseau was a superstar the second Blake Baker gave him any chance to play in 2019. Rousseau responded with 15-½ sacks, which easily could’ve been 20 had he played more in the first 4 games of the season. Rousseau is getting a lot of preseason accolades, and will be a Top 10 pick in next year’s NFL draft. It’s been said that he has added some muscle to an already athletic frame, and could get the same hype that Chase Young received a year ago. Rousseau is the best Miami defensive player in at least a decade, and is one of the current Canes who could’ve played on some of the alltime Miami teams.

Quincy Roche arrives via the transfer portal from Temple and should be a great compliment to Rousseau on the opposite edge. Roche had 13 sacks a year ago for the Owls and is also getting a lot of preseason accolades from different publications. At 6’4” 235lbs, teams can’t double Rousseau for fear that this pass rushing merchant will dominate like he did in the AAC.

Connecticut v Temple Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Who Has The Most to Prove?

Louisville v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Nesta Jade SIlvera arrived at Miami 3 years ago with a lot of fanfare, and was being touted as the next in line to be a great DT for the Canes. Jade flashed some in 2019, posting a good performance vs FSU, but more flash is needed out of this former highly ranked recruit. Miami needs one of the DT’s to step up and be accounted for, and SIlvera is the name at the top of everyone’s mind. Can he play like Gerald Willis or RJ McIntosh did in years past? If he can the Canes will have the middle presence to match the DE group.

UCLA v Memphis Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Jaelan Phillips was an elite 5 star recruit when he chose UCLA back in 2017. Phillips was also the 247 composite National Player of the Year, but unfortunately for him injuries, and a scheme misfit derailed his UCLA career. Phillips sat out a year after transferring to Miami, and all reports and pictures have shown he has completely transformed his body. He won’t have the pressure to perform that SIlvera does because he will be behind Rousseau and Roche, but his pressure is to start to live up to the 5 star high school billing.If he is healthy look for Jaelen to post some good sack numbers, and slide into one of the DE spots in 2021.

Verdict:

This is a college football playoff type group, if the DT’s can step up and take pressure off of the DE group. Miami has the best DE’s in all of college football and some preseason rankings have them with the top Defensive Lines in college football. They now must dominate every game, and not allow groups like FIU to push them around. If these kids live up to the hype, they can mask some of the deficiencies in other parts of the defense. Look for Roche, Rousseau and Phillips to combine for over 35 sacks and wreck opposing offenses.

Next Up Linebacker

Go Canes