The numbers overall have been impressive thus far.
Miami ranks 35th in scoring defense (19.3 ppg), eighth nationally in total defense (259.7 yards per game), 15th nationally in rush defense (82.3 yards per game), and 26th in pass defense (177.0 yards per game).
Sure two of the opponents were Arkansas State (though they do have a good offense) and FAMU.
But the front 7 has definitely passed the eye test.
Where Miami's defense has lacked thus far this season, despite the encouraging numbers, is in its' defensive back field.
Tracy Howard, Deon Bush, Ladarius Gunter, Corn Elder, Jamal Carter, Dallas Crawford, and Artie Burns have produced 0 INTs through three games.
What's worse is that too often they have beat by go routes and back shoulder fades where they did not get their heads turned to find the football. And they have not had their way on many third and longs either.
Miami Head Coach Al Golden addressed the lack of INTs last week,
I'd like to have some interceptions. I just don't want to blow it out of proportion because we haven't had a lot of opportunities and we haven't dropped any or things of that nature. Certainly there's a couple in there we have to have a better break and make a play on the ball for sure."
But beyond not producing in the turnover department, here have been far too many moments like these through 3 games:
Tracy Howard was responsible for coverage on that 30-yard pass play by #FAMU. Not having a great start to the night #UM— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) September 6, 2014
Tracy Howard yanked for Artie Burns after that DPI.— Matt Porter (@mattyports) September 13, 2014
Burns gave up the 1st down on 3rd and 7. RT @mattyports: Tracy Howard yanked for Artie Burns after that DPI.— Stem E. Berry (@STEM08) September 13, 2014
Remember Howard was a 3rd team ALL-ACC player last season, Burns was a 4 star recruit who showed us a lot as a true freshman last season, Bush was a freshman All-American two seasons ago, and so on and so on.....
So their play can and should improve.
If it doesn't Saturday could be a long night for UM.
A lot of the focus against Nebraska is centered around their superstar RB Ameer Abdullah, and rightfully so.
But they can also hurt you through the air.
The Huskers have a pair of big play receivers in Jordan Westkamp (13 rec - 271 yards, 3 TDs) and Kenny Bell (10-214).
And they can do crazy things like this:
QB Tommy Armstrong is only completing 53.1% of his passes, however he does have 773 yards passing, a 7/1 TD/INT ratio, and 7 completions of 20 yards or greater as well through 3 games.
This is not your older brother's one dimensional Cornhuskers option offense of the past.
Starting Saturday, Miami needs its DBs to step up. Elder showed some signs with a couple of pass break ups Vs ASU. But they need more from Howard and Burns in particular, and they need it in a hurry.
On today's ACC Coaches Teleconference, AG indicated they were getting closer,
"It's a matter of trusting the technique, Both of those guys (Howard and Burns) were in great position on the the deep balls (vs Arkansas State). I'm confident both of those guys will trust their speed and technique and get that fixed. I think they are getting better every day. I like the competition at the position. It's (CB) is the one position on the team where we don't talk about the starters because we rotate all those guys in so much."
If Miami is going to come out victorious Saturday Night, all of the DBs need to not only get close, but finish the plays off.
Additionally if the season is going to be a successful one, it will have to carry over through the final 8 games.
The good news is, the talent is there for this to happen.
Side Notes: Golden confirmed that Gray Crow is officially back to QB, after a brief stint at H-Back. Also, G Alex Gall is out for this weekend's game. Sunny Odogwu will be Danny Isidora's primary back-up. FB Walter Tucker is still questionable. QB Ryan Williams "could" play Saturday Night. K Matt Goudis will see a doctor today and should travel to Lincoln, but Golden hinted that he would be a game time decision.