Most of the attention the Miami Hurricanes are getting this season revolves around their offense, and with good reason. The Canes are averaging 51 points over the first three games with a high-powered attack that isn’t relying solely on the strong arm of quarterback Brad Kaaya. A potent rushing attack has been added behind a veteran offensive line. Yes, the Miami offense is the total package.
Don’t overlook the defense.
The Canes have been equally impressive on that side of the football. Over the first three games, the Canes have yielded just two touchdowns and a total of 23 points. That averages out to just 7.7 points allowed per game by a Canes defense that is aggressive and runs to the ball with reckless abandon.
A large part of the Canes’ success on both sides of the ball can be attributed to its advantage in the trenches. The Miami defensive line is stopping the opposition’s running game, which has placed opposing offenses in bad positions.
Miami is holding opponents to 1.6 yards per rush so far this season and just 65 yards rushing per game on average. Over three games, the Canes’ defense has given up a total of 195 rushing yards.
Those are impressive numbers. The Canes are second in the nation in points allowed. Only Florida (4.7) gives up fewer. The Canes are seventh in the nation in rushing defense, leading all ACC teams, and they rank third nationally in total defense behind only Florida (129.7) and Virginia Tech (204.7).
Junior defensive end Chad Thomas is emerging as a leader in the trenches for Miami. The 6-6, 265-pounder logged a career-high nine tackles in the 45-10 rout of Appalachian State. Three of those were tackles for loss, something the Canes have prided themselves on. As a team they’ve piled up 39 tackles for loss this season, with Thomas and fellow lineman Demetrius Jackson leading the team with 5 apiece.
Thomas credits the coaching staff for preparing the team to be successful. That includes both defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski.
“Coach gives us the game plan and we trust it,” said Thomas, who handed in 1.5 sacks and now leads the team in that stat with 2.5 for the season. “We just go out there and execute.”
Thomas is third on the team in tackles this season with 15 (8 solo). His goal is to keep the pressure on opposing offenses from the opening kick to the final whistle.
“I was telling the DBs and linebackers the score is 0-0 every time our offense goes so it felt like 0-0 like we still had a point to prove every play,” Thomas said.
The five-star prospect who was heavily recruited by Alabama made his first start at Miami last season. He ended up starting eight games in his sophomore season and is coming into his own as the standout recruit everyone expected he would be coming out of high school, only a few miles from the University of Miami campus.