Calais Campbell is having such a great year, you could make a strong case that he has been playing the best football of anybody on the entire team this year.
Campbell is third on the team in tackles (40), first on the team in tackles for loss (7), sacks (3), quarterback pressures (7), and forced fumbles (2). He is also tied for second in pass break-ups with three.
After not playing the second half of the first three games due to hydration issues, Campbell has seemingly picked up his game each week since.
Campbell has amassed all of his sacks in the last three games—Houston, North Carolina, and FIU—with one sack in each game. He has gotten all of his tackles for loss in the last three games and both forced fumbles in the last two games.
"Every game I am trying to make it easier for the linebackers and the defensive backs to make a lot more plays," Campbell said. "If I go out there and play well, it helps the guys behind me make plays easier."
With Campbell starting at right end, Miami has not allowed a 100-yard rusher the entire season. UM ranks first in rushing defense in the ACC, allowing 57 yards per game.
This week, UM will play the Duke Blue Devils at Durham. A week after the now infamous "footbrawl" incident with FIU, the players will need to be ready for the creative insults Blue Devil fans are known for.
"You have to try to have thick skin and not let anything get to you," Campbell said. "You have to be able to be the bigger man and walk away from certain situations. You have to just walk away and keep your head held high and keep playing football."
"With any sport, you are always looking for an advantage. If you can get somebody off their game by talking to them, and getting them all worked up then you have the advantage. It happens in every game, you can't let it get to you."
Due to the suspensions from the FIU incident, Miami will be without five players in the secondary this week—placing an even bigger importance on the play and amount of pressure the defensive line can put on the quarterback.
"It is going to be good for some of our younger guys to get some experience in this game. It will help us out a lot next year because a lot of players will have gotten game experience. I am trying to take the best of the situation and be optimistic about it. I think it will give a chance for some younger guys to learn some stuff."
David Lake can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stellar '06 Season for DE Campbell
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