Spring Analysis: Defense

The Hurricanes have now completed 10 spring practices and one scrimmage. Read on for an defensive analysis from CanesTime's Mike Bakas on where the team stands at this point.

D-End: Anthony Chickillo got a late start due to an injury and has been somewhat limited. Up to 285 pounds now, Chick saw extended time as an interior lineman late in the 2013 season. That is a role he'll likely continue to play. He's very good against the run on 1st and 2nd downs and will likely play inside as an inside rush specialist. People might not be crazy about him because he doesn't make game-changing type plays but he's still one of the most important players on the entire roster.
Ufomba Kamalu is emerging as the other guy on those early downs. He started to turn the corner late in the 2013 season and now is setting himself up for a rock solid 2014. He's having a strong spring.
Quan Muhammad and Tyriq McCord continue being the pass rushing specialists. Both have added weight and look even better this spring. Coaches are hoping Trent Harris can join them but he's not quite there yet. Dwayne Hoilett is behind them all.

D-Tackle: Olsen Pierre is the returning starter here but he's been very limited with an injury. It's given the other four a chance to shine. Calvin Heurtelou is Miami's biggest and strongest interior lineman. He just has to keep learning the techniques and keeping his motor running all the time. He's shown flashes this spring.
Coaches say Earl Moore has been the best DT lately. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing considering he played such a limited role in 2013. It's probably somewhere in the middle. Corey King continues to struggle while Jelani Hamilton shows flashes but just needs to be more consistent.

LB: The most exciting part about the defense this spring has been Denzel Perryman getting moved to the middle. This defense puts a lot of emphasis on the mike being a guy who is experienced, can make all the calls, and someone who really knows the entire defense. For the first time in many years, UM's most talented LB will be playing the middle. He's having a tremendous spring, as expected.
Alex Figueroa and Raphael Kirby have emerged as the other two starters. Kirby just has to continue being more consistent. Fig is loaded with talent and just needs to continue learning. They've shown flashes this spring.
Thurston Armbrister has experience, which will help, but isn't standing out. Juwand Blue isn't ready yet. Jermaine Grace is a playmaker but just has to keep learning and adding weight. The two freshmen -- especially Darrion Owens -- have been impressive and look like guys who have bright futures.

CB: The deepest position on defense, this group has a chance to be really good. Tracy Howard entered spring as the best of the bunch but he hasn't maintained that because of others stepping up. Artie Burns started late because of track but has shown flashes of being really special. Corn Elder is probably the most naturally gifted player in the group and has really elevated his game, maybe more than anyone on the entire defense.
Nate Dortch has improved tremendously, while Antonio Crawford remains solid. Larry Hope, Ryan Mayes, and Ray Lewis aren't ready. Ladarius Gunter, a returning starter, has been out with an injury.

S: A lot of people wondered why Dallas Crawford was moved back to safety at the start of spring. The coaches say it was because they felt he could start on defense. And so far, he's been one of the two best safeties. He has knowledge of the position and tremendous instincts.
Deon Bush is healthy again and playing like he was late in his freshman year. Jamal Carter has been a pleasant surprise. He came on late last season and might be the most talented safety on the roster. He's having an excellent spring.
Rayshawn Jenkins has been limited, while Nentambu Fentress is more of a special teams only guy.

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