Two games is not enough of a sample size to conclude that whatever plagued the 16th-ranked Hurricanes (2-0) on defense last season is fixed, though season-opening wins over Florida Atlantic and Florida provided encouraging signs. And even though a lower-division team in Savannah State is visiting Miami this weekend, the Hurricanes think it’s another chance to further show progress.
“With demonstrated performance comes confidence,” defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said.
So far, so good.
Miami had major issues last season in getting off the field on third downs (opponents converted 42 percent of those tries against the Hurricanes in 2012), stopping the run (218 yards allowed per game ranked ninth-worst in the nation) and getting to quarterbacks (the Hurricanes took away a mere 86 yards from teams via sacks all season).
Early returns suggest that the Hurricanes are better in all those areas. FAU and Florida combined to convert 35 percent of their third downs, managed an average of 127.5 yards per game on the ground and the Hurricanes have already posted seven sacks.
“What do I see?” said Savannah State coach Earnest Wilson. “Well, they’re bigger, faster and stronger.”
That, of course, means Miami is better, not that improvement wasn’t to be expected.
The 2012 Hurricanes gave up 366 points in just 12 games. Miami also gave up a staggering 5,837 yards of offense, allowing at least 200 yards on the ground in eight consecutive games — a baffling number for a school that yielded eight 200-yard rushing outings, total, in a 107-game stretch between 1999 and 2008.
Nonetheless, after giving up 22 points in two games this season, the Hurricanes aren’t taking victory laps quite yet.
“We’re still seeing what we need to work on, see our flaws, and try to perfect them,” Miami defensive lineman Shayon Green said. “We know what we can get better at.”
Source: Associated Press'Canes Making Big Strides On Defense by Blake Bass