Mike's Thoughts: UNC Game (defense)

The Hurricanes (4-3) lost to North Carolina today by the score of 18-14. Read on to get CanesTime's Mike Bakas' take on Miami's defensive performance in the game.

* The entire unit did a much better job in the second half, giving up just 173 yards over the final two quarters. To me, that means UM's defensive coaches did a nice job of making the necessary adjustments. A couple UNC dropped passes and a few key penalties aided in that but lets start by giving some credit there.

* From an overall standpoint, it doesn't seem to be getting any better from week to week. Even when the team has four defensive ends on the field in obvious passing situations, there's no pass rush. Shayon Green was never a pass rusher so that's not a surprise. Anthony Chickillo's lack of playmaking ability behind the line of scrimmage has surprised me. It's also been surprising how little Tyriq McCord and Kelvin Cain have given as pass rushers this season. I expected those two, especially McCord, to provide a spark in certain situations. It's not happening and it's allowing the opposing quarterbacks to pick Miami apart through the air.

* The secondary did a nice job (and, again, they were part of the scheme that played a big role) of keeping everything in front of them. UNC's biggest offensive play was only 23 yards. That's something that was killing this defense in recent weeks and it's probably a big reason why UNC only scored 18 points despite getting close to 500 yards of total offense.

* Denzel Perryman, even though he's obviously not playing at 100-percent, is the best player on Miami's defense. I thought that coming into the season and it's certainly the case now. He was all over the field. He is an explosive tackler. He's smart. When he's on the field, this is a different unit (even as far as getting guys lined up right).

* The most pleasant surprise on defense this year continues to be Eddie Johnson. He's emerged as a legitimate playmaker. He still makes mistakes at times (remember, he's just a freshman) but he plays hard and fast and makes things happen. He and Perryman (and Gionni Paul, who has clearly emerged as the team's third best linebacker) should make a very solid group over the next couple years together.

* UM continues getting gashed in the middle, which is where Perryman's at, so it further cements the idea that the defensive tackles are getting manhandled. Even when Darius Smith, who came here at 350+, is in the game it's still happening. Maybe this team misses Curtis Porter, the team's top run stuffer, more than people expected. A lot of the kids who are playing a lot (Corey King, Jalen Grimble, Earl Moore, Luther Robinson, etc) are all in the 6-1, 6-2 range and around 300 pounds. I have to believe that recruiting a couple nose types has to be in the cards in this upcoming recruiting class. The one currently committed, Keith Bryant (a real good one), is in the 6-2/300 range as well.

* This unit doesn't get off the field enough on third down and doesn't create enough negative plays so creating more turnovers has to be a major priority moving forward. If they're able to do that, they'll not only get off the field but they'll give the offense more chances to make things happen. Until it starts getting more turnovers, the entire team will likely continue to struggle.

* Florida State's offense is averaging over 500 yards per game against their BCS opponents this season. It'll be the best unit Miami has faced all season. They have good balance and are loaded with talent and experience. It'll be an absolutely huge test for Miami's defense next Saturday night.

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