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Big Picture Thoughts On The Canes Defense Moving Forward

Some changes have been made on Miami’s defensive staff, here are my thoughts.

Louisville v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

On Thursday, several changes and adjustments were made to the Canes defensive coaching staff, and now that everyone has had 24 hours to cool off and really think about what happened, I'd like to give my thoughts.

Starting off with the defensive line, I couldn't be happier that Jess Simpson is coming back to coach that unit. Simpson spent the 2018 season coaching the Canes DL, and he did a phenomenal job. Here are some of the numbers from Miami’s defensive line during that 2018 year.

Gerald Willis III: 59 tackles, 18 TFLs and 4 sacks.

Jonathan Garvin: 60 tackles, 17 TFLs and 5.5 sacks.

Joe Jackson: 47 tackles, 14.5 TFLs and 8.5 sacks.

I was very sad to see coach Todd Stroud announce he wouldn’t be coaching the defensive line moving forward, but if there’s a good replacement for him, it’s Simpson.

In 2021, Simpson will be working with very talented rising redshirt sophomore Jahfari Harvey, seniors Nesta Silvera and Jon Ford, a promising DT in Jared Harrison-Hunte, and a 5-star recruit and true freshman Leonard Taylor, among other players on the d-line.

So I think we’ll see the defensive line continue to play well, and get more help from the interior lineman in Silvera and company, so I’m very excited to have coach Simpson back.

Let’s move over to the secondary, where Travaris Robinson will be defensive backs coach, and DeMarcus Van Dyke will be coaching the cornerbacks. Now initially, I wasn’t overly thrilled that Van Dyke was moved to CB coach, just because he’s never been a position coach, and I think that going to a school like Utah State would've been a good program to develop at that position.

Having said, the fact that a proven developer like T-Rob is over the DB’s, will absolutely help Van Dyke. Robinson has been a coach in the secondary for a long time now, and will help groom DVD back there, stepping in when he needs to. Miami will have DJ Ivey, Te’Cory Couch and Al Blades Jr. returning at cornerback, Bubba Bolden and Gurvan Hall at safety, and if the Canes can also add Tyrique Stevenson at CB, then it can be an exciting secondary.

Now, moving on, I don't like the move to keep Blake Baker on staff as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. I think that position group as a whole has declined in the last two seasons in overall production, and I would’ve liked to see Manny Diaz go out and get someone else to coach the linebackers.

We’re still waiting to see what LB roster is going to look like for the 2021 season, but players like Sam Brooks and Corey Flagg Jr. are guys that have big potential, and need a proven developer to coach them up. So as far as linebackers go......I guess we’ll see.

Overall, I love that Manny Diaz is going to be calling the defense once again on Saturdays. In the 3 years he was defensive coordinator for the Hurricanes, Miami had an elite defense, and at some points they were top-5 in college football on that side.

As far as the defense as a whole is concerned, I generally believe that we’ll see an improvement defensively. From what we saw during the 2020 season, that’s not what we’re accustomed to seeing from a Miami Hurricanes defense, and hopefully the changes that UM has made, we’ll get back to being a sound team defensively.