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.
Watching Gerald Willis terrorize offenses last year was a pleasure to watch. Not many DTs can get 5 yards into the backfield that quickly. Francois didn’t stand a chance on this play. pic.twitter.com/npbBbcZAgV— Canes Legacy (@CanesLegacy) November 2, 2019
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.
Shoutout to Coach Stroud man...3 All-ACC D-Lineman this year, 2 All-Americans in the last 2 years. Give credit where credits due @coachstroud— Jaelan Phillips ; ® (@JJPhillips15) January 14, 2021
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.
This play by Nesta Silvera really got the defense’s energy up. Look at the power driving the OL 5 yards back and using 1 arm to throw the RB down. Way to step up when the team needed you. pic.twitter.com/WobA5jwDFK— Canes Legacy (@CanesLegacy) November 7, 2020
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.
Jared Harrison-Hunte is a name you’ll be hearing plenty of for the next few years pic.twitter.com/tPbfkdclZT— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) September 30, 2020
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.
Because there is an alarming lack of comprehension among Canes Twitter, let's explain this: Travaris Robinson is the defensive backs coach, as was announced several days ago. DeMarcus Van Dyke is the newly announced cornerbacks coach. Two things can be true at once.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) January 14, 2021
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.
Te'cory Couch displayed some nice coverage skills Vs Pitt.— Arturo (@CaneFilms) October 18, 2020
Finished with 1 tackle & 3 pass breakups. Solid day for Couch. pic.twitter.com/mOvuIPoSgI
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.
AP sources: Miami head coach Manny Diaz will call the Hurricanes’ defensive plays in 2021, Blake Baker remains as defensive coordinator, Jess Simpson returns to The U to coach defensive line, DeMarcus Van Dyke promoted to cornerbacks coach.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) January 14, 2021
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.