Typically the term “Cold Hard Truth” carries with it a sense of negativity. But in this week’s Cold Hard Truth I want to change it up a little bit and spotlight the vast improvement of the Miami Hurricanes defense. No, it isn’t perfect yet. Actually the defense as a whole has the most room for improvement on this Canes team that has a long way to go before anyone considers them worthy of national attention, but on Saturday against Georgia Tech they were so improved over the previous three weeks it deserves recognition.
The first quarter was so surprising to me that my internal pessimist almost erupted. In fact, I checked my voicemail after the game, and I had somehow left myself a “Back to the Future” like message warning me of the carnage, and eventual ecstasy, that was ahead. Fortunately, I was watching the game on a two-hour DVR delay, so as my phone was exploding in front of me I refused to pick it up for fear of some sort of college football paradox that might take place.
[Gamedayr Latest: Another casualty to conference realignment]
All kidding aside, the defense was well prepared and more disciplined than I could have imagined. The linebackers didn’t over commit and the defensive line stayed on their feet long enough to make the triple option attack of GT execute perfectly in order to gain yardage. The first quarter performance of the defense really set the tone of the game and allowed the offense to finally get a substantial lead for the first time all season.
Quarters two and three were as perplexing as the first, but in an all too familiar way. The downfall of the defense began right after the Hurricanes turned the ball over for the first time. Phillip Dorsett, who had the best game of his short career, fumbled the ball minutes after the defense had given up a touchdown on a 91-yard drive.
The young Canes defense, which had possibly gotten a little sloppy after the stellar first quarter, was put back on the field so quickly it was devastating. Some have even suggested that the harsh injury to freshman Malcolm Lewis impacted the team so greatly that it took two quarters for them to recover. Either way, the excitement that overcame Canes Nation during the first quarter turned to pure disgust over quarters two and three, and setup up a fourth quarter/overtime for the ages.
The defense started to wake up late in the third quarter. Anthony Chickillo’s sack of Tevin Washington early in the fourth quarter on a critical 3rd and 6 injected the Hurricanes defense with exactly what they needed….swagger. Honestly, Chick may be a better celebrator than he is a defensive end (future dancing with the stars contestant?). Once again the Hurricanes thrived on big plays and the pump-o-locity (just made that word up, right now, like it?) they inspire. It’s what we do. For those you reading this who aren’t Canes fans….it’s a Canes thing, you wouldn’t understand.
The Cold Hard Truth is this Hurricanes defense is still trying to figure out who they are. They don’t have an identity. But they are getting better. They are growing every week. And if we continue to get more of the 1st/4th quarter defense, as opposed to the 2nd/3rd quarter one, there may be a light at the end of this tunnel of season.
Eye of the Storm >> Monday Man of the Hour – Senior Canes RB Mike James, Gritty and Determined