The good news for the Canes after giving up an absurd 10 sacks against the Gators:
They won’t face a defensive front as skilled as the Gators’ unless they play Clemson in the ACC championship.
They won’t end up facing three of the best pass rushers that they seemed likely to face this season. Two of them (players on Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh) were lost for the season due to injuries, and another transferred from Central Michigan to Michigan.
Of the seven front-seven defenders on the preseason All ACC team, Miami will face only one of them - FSU defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, a skilled space-clogger with 3.5 sacks last season. Because of the Canes schedule, Miami won’t need to face (at least in the regular season) the two All-ACC first team defensive ends: Clemson’s Xavier Thomas and Syracuse’s Alton Robinson.
The bad news: There are still some potential landmines on the schedule for freshmen UM tackles Zion Nelson and John Campbell, who struggled mightily against UF, and the rest of the offensive line.
Those challenges begin in Miami’s next game Saturday against North Carolina, when the Canes must deal with end/tackle Jason Strowbridge, a 6-5, 285 pounder who can get to the quarterback from the edge or the interior and could potentially overwhelm Miami’s freshman tackles. He had five sacks last season and eight tackles for loss.
Edge rusher Tomon Fox (2.5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss) and 6-2, 290-pound defensive tackle Aaron Crawford also could pose problems.
North Carolina had three sacks in its 24-20 win against South Carolina on Saturday, with Crawford collecting one of those and Fox getting a half.
As for the rest of the schedule, UM avoided facing the top pass rushers on Virginia Tech (Houshon Gaines) and Pittsburgh (Rashad Weaver), who have reportedly been lost for the season with knee injuries.
They’ll also avoid facing Central Michigan’s Mike Danna, who transferred to Michigan after producing 9.5 sacks last season. And Virginia Tech’s top rusher, Trevon Hill, transferred to UM after being dismissed from the Hokies.
But there are several potential problems beyond UNC’s formidable front. Though Brian Burns’ departure to the NFL leaves FSU without any player with more than 3.5 sacks for them last season, Wilson is a load and the line has talent. Virginia has several skilled rushers, including Charles Snowden, Elliott Brown, Noah Taylor and Matt Gahm.
And Louisville might have the best remaining pass rusher on UM’s schedule in Ty Tyler, who transferred from Marshall after producing nine sacks last season and 21 in three years. If UF’s Jabari Zuniga (6.5 sacks last season, 1.5 against UM) was the best pass rusher on UM’s schedule, Tyler - a grad transfer - might be the most accomplished.
FIU’s defense line is adequate - led by Noah Curtis and Teair Tart - but if UM hasn’t solved this problem by the time these teams play Nov. 23, it’s going to be problematic.
▪ One thing that’s clear: Nelson and Campbell must get better, and in a hurry.
Per College Football Focus, the Hurricanes’ front allowed a total of 18 pressures on the team’s 48 dropbacks on Saturday. Nelson allowed seven of those 18 pressures. The good news was left guard Navaughn Donaldson, who did not allow a pressure on his 48 snaps in pass protection.
Manny Diaz said last Monday that Nelson and Campbell will remain the starting tackles.
THIS AND THAT
Detroit Tigers reliever Bryan Garcia, UM’s all-time saves leader and All-American closer, on Sunday became the third member of UM’s 2015 College World Series team to be promoted to the big leagues. Garcia, who came back from Tommy John surgery, joins Andrew Suarez (Giants) and Zack Collins (White Sox) as big leaguers from that club.
Garcia pitched a perfect ninth inning in his MLB debut Monday. Collins’ first MLB hit was a home run, incidentally.
▪ ESPN said negotiations are ongoing with Comcast/Xfinity and AT&T Uverse, but there’s no indication if either will add ACC Network before UM’s game at North Carolina on Saturday.