Miami flipped things around when they hired Manny Diaz as their head coach. Mark Richt is an offensive coach who had relied on very good defenses over the final stretch of his career. With Diaz, they were going with a guy who ran some of those defenses and performed his duties well. Miami has been known for their ability to create turnovers and make other big plays but that’s been lacking a bit this season. Without much help from the offense, the defense hasn’t been able to be as consistently dominant as expected.
Louisville has faced a few very good defensive lines this year and Miami will just make the list longer. Gregory Rousseau is the best defensive end they will face this year. He is second in the country in sacks with 12 and he has 7 over the last two weeks. Rousseau is a massive redshirt freshman who is listed at 6-6/260 but he can run and bend very well. Louisville will have to stay out of obvious passing situations so that they can avoid him coming off the edge.
The Canes will rotate a bunch of other guys up front but the two to watch are Trevon Hill at defensive end and Pat Bethel inside. Hill is a transfer from Virginia Tech that plays well as a pass rusher and edge defender. Bethel is a pretty mobile defensive tackle. This line does a good job of keeping the linebackers clean. Louisville has faced this issue before, so they have to make sure they don’t have a letdown when it comes to run blocking.
The Miami defense is led by the linebacker group again. Shaq Quarterman is the man in the middle for the fourth straight year while Michael Pickney lines up next to him. Both of these guys are very good players and they literally couldn’t be more experienced. Quarterman has shown some impressive speed this year as he’s been responsible for covering running backs a lot in the games that I have watched. Both players have combined to make 18 tackles behind the line of scrimmage which is a problem area for Louisville’s offense. Their experience makes me wonder if they will bite on the play action and misdirection things that Louisville likes to do but this defense is very aggressive and they want to get after it from the snap. Louisville has to find a way to move these guys out of position.
Diaz has lived off of great secondary play over the last few seasons and this season is going pretty well, also. Miami hasn’t picked off as many passes as usual but they’re making it very hard on opposing quarterbacks and receivers. Trajan Bandy and D.J. Ivey man the outside corner spots and you’re not going to find too many corners that are more confident than these two. Ivey leads the team with two interceptions while Bandy leads them in PBUs. This isn’t a weak spot for this team by any measure but I do think they can be challenged by Louisville’s wide receivers. Bandy is excellent in short coverage but I don’t think he gets tested enough down the field. I would love to see Louisville go after him there as well as testing Ivey and Al Blades Jr. when he’s on the field.
Miami is solid at safety with Gurvan Hall and Amari Carter. Hall is one of the best players on the team and they use him in a lot of ways. He will blitz from the secondary and off the edge as well as just playing in the box as an extra linebacker. Hall is a good player in space, also. He is a complete safety that has to be accounted for. Carter rotates with Robert Knowles and both players are solid guys who can do everything at a solid level. They aren’t big playmakers but they don’t hurt the defense in any way. Louisville should have another opportunity to target the safeties if they can get the running game going. Manny Diaz won’t allow for his team to be run on without adding a guy to the box. That leaves these guys to cover Louisville’s inside receivers. I don’t know that they can handle that.