State of the Team: Week 2 (defense)

The Hurricanes are 2-0 heading into the bye week. CanesTime's Mike Bakas takes a close look at the state of the team after two games.

DE: The Hurricanes were one of the worst teams in all of college football last season in terms of putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The front four averaged less than one sack per game and that became one of the biggest offseason priorities. The coaching staff added Wisconsin transfer David Gilbert, Juco transfer Ufomba Kamalu, and signed prep All-American Quan Muhammad. So far, they seem to be helping. Anthony Chickillo, who played 20 more snaps than any other defensive lineman against Florida last weekend, has been the MVP of this group so far. His toughness, leadership, and conditioning have been tremendous. Shayon Green continues to be a solid play against the run but offers absolutely no pass rushing skills. Gilbert's been OK through the first two games. Kamalu wasn't ready for the Florida game, and didn't see the field. Muhammad has provided a decent pass rush on third downs and will only get better as the season goes along. McCord has been the team's top pass rusher. He's added around 30 pounds of weight since last season, and has provided a spark off the edge. He looks like a kid who could finish the season with 10-12 sacks in limited action. David Perry and Dwayne Hoilett don't seem close to being ready. Perry has been a recruiting bust. Hoilett is probably a year away. This group will likely only get better as the season goes on.

DT: The Hurricanes have gotten much better inside since last season as well. Curtis Porter is finally playing healthy. He missed half of last season, and it made a big difference. The addition of Virginia transfer Justin Renfrow has been huge, as he's played a key role in each of the first two games. Olsen Pierre continues playing like Miami's best interior lineman. Luther Robinson has been solid off the bench. It's a bit disappointing that none of the tackles Miami signed two years ago are ready for legit game action (Jalen Grimble and Dequan Ivery are no longer on the team while Jelani Hamilton and Earl Moore just aren't ready for the big time). Corey King, a year older, isn't ready either. If the top four can stay healthy, they should continue getting solid production. However, you can't go through an entire season rotating four players at this position in key moments. One of the three younger guys has to emerge. Again, it's been disappointing that it hasn't happened yet.

LB: Denzel Perryman has been all over the place. He's been Miami's most productive defender. Jimmy Gaines has been rock solid in the middle. He's been somewhat productive but being like a coach on the field has been huge. We can't underestimate that. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group through two games is how much quality play the Canes are getting from senior Tyrone Cornileus and junior Thurston Armbrister. A lot of fans had written them off as being buried on the depth chart during the offseason. Not only are they playing a lot of minutes, but they're playing pretty well. If that continues, it'll be a major boost to what's become a solid group of linebackers. Alex Figueroa has been OK, and will only get better. Kelvin Cain seems to have a slight edge on Raphael Kirby for the backup mike linebacker job. Considering that he's a senior with one tackle so far in two games, that might be more to do with Kirby than it does Cain. These two really need to step up and challenge Gaines for playing time. Jawand Blue seems way behind. Jermaine Grace has been a special teams guy, and will likely continue in that role unless the injury bug hits this group.

CB: Tracy Howard and Ladarius Gunter have been solid, yet unspectacular, through two games. Antonio Crawford has been solid in the nickel. The coaches talked up Nate Dortch a lot during the spring and fall camp, and even listed him as a starter deep into August. How little he's been playing is a bit surprising. It seems like he needs to take a big step forward. The other four guys aren't quite ready for the big time yet. Artie Burns seems most likely to play as the 5th corner. Larry Hope seems way behind, while Ray Lewis hasn't played and could be in line for a redshirt.

S: Not having Deon Bush has hurt this unit the first couple weeks of the season. He's the most talented player at this position. He should be available when the Canes start their ACC schedule in a few weeks. Rayshawn Jenkins has been solid. Kacy Rodgers is like another coach on the field, but he is way behind Bush in terms of his physical skills. A.J. Highsmith has been as expected. Jamal Carter isn't quite ready, and has been playing on special teams.

Tomorrow, we'll look at the special teams units.


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