A six-pack of metrics-flavored nuggets and thoughts on the Miami Hurricanes’ defense one-third of the way into the regular season:
▪ Highly regarded defensive coordinator Lance Guidry has made an enormous difference with this unit, helping lift UM from 66th (last season) to 12th (this season) in scoring defense among 131 FBS teams; 64th to 13th in total defense; and 97th to 59th in third-down conversion defense.
Miami has gone from permitting 376.5 yards per game last season to 273.0 this season, albeit against the nonconference part of the schedule.
But here’s where Guidry has made the biggest difference: UM is much better against the run, even though its defensive line has been depleted by injuries to three starters (Akheem Mesidor, Nyjalik Kelly and Branson Deen) and even though UM lost its second-best run-stuffing tackle (Darrell Jackson) to FSU, where he’s ineligible to play this season.
Guidry’s blitz-heavy defenses have traditionally been effective against the run — his Marshall unit was fourth best against the run last season — and that has been an important factor through 33 percent of UM’s season.
Miami is permitting just 1.92 yards per rush, which is second best in the country. Last year, UM was 63rd of 131 FBS teams, permitting 4.03 yards per rush. Miami’s rushing yards allowed (48 per game, on average) is second best in the country.
The UM defensive linemen who have reached or exceeded 100 defensive snaps —Jahfari Harvey, Reuben Bain, Jared Harrison Hunte and Leonard Taylor III — all have played well against the run.
Among the other Canes players who particularly deserve credit for their run defense, per Pro Football Focus:
1). Among all FBS cornerbacks, Oklahoma transfer Jaden Davis is rated the 13th-best run defender by PFF (in 52 run defense snaps).
2) Among all FBS linebackers, Francisco Mauigoa is rated the eighth-best run defender (in 49 run defense snaps).
3). Among all defensive tackles, Thomas Gore is PFF’s No. 8 run defender (albeit in just 20 run defense snaps).
4). Among all edge players, Mesidor is 36th as a run defender, albeit in just 14 run defense snaps. He has missed the past two games with a leg injury.
5). Among all safeties, Kamren Kinchens is 23rd in run defense, in 37 run stopping snaps. He has missed the past two games after taking a big hit late in the Texas A&M game.
Guidry’s scheme, if executed properly, puts pressure on the quarterback and has proven it can stop the run.
▪ The three cornerbacks playing the most for UM all have impressive passer ratings against.
Davis has allowed 11 of 19 passes thrown in his coverage area to be caught, for 115 yards, equal to a strong 75.5 passer rating in his coverage area.
Daryl Porter Jr. has permitted just 5 of 13 passes in his coverage area to be caught, for 40 yards and an interception. That’s a sterling 47 passer rating in his coverage area.
Te’Cory Couch has allowed 15 of 22 passes thrown against him to be caught for 185 yards (too much) and two touchdowns, but he has three interceptions, which explains his solid 84.7 passer rating against.
Among other cornerbacks, UCF transfer Davonte Brown has allowed four of six targets to be caught for 28 yards (77.1 passer rating), and his brother, freshman Damari Brown, has permitted two of seven to be caught, but for 65 yards (a 65.8 rating).
Jadais Richard, the Vanderbilt transfer, has allowed all four targets against him to be caught, for 67 yards.
▪ Linebacker play against the run has improved, but the pass coverage remains shaky — not unusual in college football.
Mauigoa — strong against the pass at Washington State last season - has a 122.2 passer rating in his coverage area (8 completions in 11 targets for 77 yards and a TD).
Opposing teams have completed two of three passes for 31 yards against KJ Cloyd, the Louisville transfer who began the season as a starter but came off the bench against Temple.
Wesley Bissainthe has been stout in coverage (three completions in four targets but for 9 yards total).
Among safeties: James Williams is much improved in coverage, permitting just a 70.1 passer rating in his coverage areas (five for nine for 47 yards). Kinchens had allowed four catches in four targets for 42 yards in his coverage area. No. 3 safety Jaden Harris has permitted 2 of 4 to be caught for 13 yards.
▪ UM’s 10 sacks in four games are tied for 42nd in the country. That could be better, but keep in mind that UM has played two games without Mesidor and two without Kelly. Those are arguably two of UM’s three or four best pass rushers.
Among all defensive tackles, PFF rates Taylor the fifth best interior pass rusher; he has 15 pressures and a sack in 69 pass rushing chances.
Impressive freshman Bain is rated 56th among all FBS edge players as a pass rusher, with 11 pressures and a sack on 84 pass-rushing chances.
▪ Pro Football Focus said UM’s 10 best players on defense so far this season, in order, are: Georgia State transfer Gore (has played 79 snaps), Bain (119), Davis (190), Taylor (100), Bobby Washington Jr. (14), Mesidor (45), Chase Smith (7), Ryan Ragone (10), Marcellius Pulliam (8) and Kinchens (112).
If you eliminate the four aforementioned players who have played fewer than 15 defensive snaps, the top 10 would be Gore, Bain, Davis, Taylor, Mesidor, Kinchens, Deen (30), Porter (152), Joshua Horton (32) and Mauigoa (168).
Among UM defenders who have played a lot, Cloyd (99 snaps) has graded out worst, according to PFF. But Guidry said last week that Cloyd has graded out better than Bissainthe in their internal evaluation.
▪ Here’s how much the freshmen defenders have played, per PFF: Bain 119 snaps, Damari Brown 70, Jayden Wayne 68, Horton 32, Raul Aguirre 16, Washington 14, Malik Bryant 12, Pulliam 8….
Among healthy veterans with low snap counts (40 or below): Markeith Williams 40, Keontra Smith 39, Cyrus Moss 27, Brian Balom 22, Ragone 10, Louisiana Monroe transfer Anthony Campbell 8, Chase Smith 7.
Coming Thursday: A six pack of offensive-flavored metrics and thoughts one-third of the way into UM’s regular season.