Miami Football: Hurricanes' Spring Practice Emphasizes Defensive Competition

Hurricanes' Spring Practice Spotlights Defense

3/20/14 in NCAAF   |   Nick_Kaminsky   |   29 respect

Miami (Fla.) has five spring practices down in the books and things are beginning to heat up. Blog Photo - Miami (FL) Football: Spring Practice Emphasizes Defensive Competition Any Hurricane fan knows that the defense must get better in order for this team to compete in 2014.

With this being said, there is some serious competition brewing in Coral Gables this spring, especially on defense.

The only stable group for this unit has been the linebackers thus far (Denzel Perryman, Raphael Kirby, Alex Figueroa). This is very optimistic sign for coach Al Golden and his staff, as Miami needs a solid linebacking core to shut down offenses in 2014—Perryman is a stud, while Kirby (6-1, 235) and Figueroa (6-3, 242) are physical freaks. These three are listed as starters this spring; hopefully it stays that way throughout the season.

Things start to get messy in the secondary. The only player who I’m confident will start is cornerback Tracy Howard. I would bet that Artie Burns will join him at the other corner, but Ladarius Gunter is also capable of earning his starting role back for 2014. The safety spots are up for grabs. Rayshawn Jenkins, Deon Bush, Jamal Carter and former running back Dallas Crawford will be in a heated battle to claim the two starting roles.

The defensive line has been a priority for Golden to upgrade this offseason. The Hurricanes added players like Chad Thomas, Anthony Moten and Trent Harris to create more of a pass rush in 2014. But don’t forget about some of the guys that are actually there. Harris enrolled early and is competing with Tyriq McCord and Al-Quadin Muhammad for the weak-side defensive end spot. There is no doubt that McCord can rush the passer but Golden wants him to be an every down player this year.

Olsen Pierre is the only guy who is standing out at the defensive tackle position. But there are plenty of candidates who are working to join him or take his spot. Calvin Heurtelou, Dwayne Hoilett and Jelani Hamilton are pushing to join the starting team. But Moten will arrive this fall and I could easily see him as a first-year starter. Moten will bring speed that this group has been lacking over the years.

The pleasant surprise of this spring has been the growth of defensive end Ufomba Kamalu. Kamalu played more towards the end of the season and now he is pushing Anthony Chickillo for the starting role. He has gotten his weight up to 285 pounds and has improved his hand quickness. If he doesn’t beat Chickillo out at the strong side defensive end position, it would be hard to imagine him not starting on the opposite end.

The players believe that the defense is getting better this spring, mainly saying that the communication and physicality has improved so far. The unit feels as though it is ahead of where it was last year.

Regardless of how it does during spring and fall camp, we’ll see what this defense is really about on Labor Day night against the newest member of the ACC in the Louisville Cardinals
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