Making sense of Miami's defense is no easy task.
The RedHawks held No. 7 Florida scoreless in two quarters of a 34-12 loss
in Gainesville; with seven of the Gators' points coming on an interception
return for touchdown.
During a two-game home stand-a 28-21 win over Eastern Michigan and a
31-10 stunner over Colorado State-the RedHawks allowed just 15.5 points
per game before being steamrolled by Missouri, 51-13, last week.
Which Miami defense will show up on Saturday against Kent State?
The Golden Flashes probably should expect an effort similar to the ones the
RedHawks put forth in their two wins in Oxford.
During those two games the RedHawks allowed just 314 yards per games. Miami's
rush defense came up big, allowing just 1.26 yards per carry (53 carries for
67 yards), but the RedHawks did allow Eastern Michigan and Colorado State to
complete 62-perecent of their passes for 280.5 yards per game.
Miami forced seven turnovers in their two victories (5 interceptions, 2 fumble
Overall, the RedHawks allow 327.2 yards per game (100.5 rushing, 226.8 passing)
and have forced 11 turnovers but have sacked the opposing quarterback just
The RedHawks could be without two of their top defenders, linebacker Ryan Kennedy, the team's top tackler, and safety Jordan Gafford,
as both have suffered injuries. It's not all bad news for Miami. Sophomore
linebacker Luke Kelly is probable for Saturday's game.
Here's a look at Miami's projected starting defense:
Evan Harris scores on a 56-yard interception return.
Junior Morris Council[/b] or sophomore [db]Wes Williams and sophomore
Jason Semmes are the projected starters at defensive end.
Council, a 6-foot-2, 253-pounder, and Williams, a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder, have
lined up on the left side for the RedHawks this season. Council, who started
against Missouri, has six tackles and a sack while Williams, who has made two
starts, has just one tackle to his credit.
Semmes, a 6-foot-3, 254-pounder, will line up on the right side. He has eight
tackles this season.
On the inside it's true freshman Mwanza Wamulumba and sophomore
Austin Brown filling the tackle spots.
Mamulumba has started the last two games, with a career-high three tackles
at Missouri. Brown, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound co-captain, had a team-high eight
tackles at Missouri. On the year, he has 22 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
The defensive line has helped the RedHawks' defense to hold opponents
to just 99.7 rushing yard per game, that's good for 23rd in the nation.
The good news for Miami is the probable return of SAM linebacker Luke Kelly.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound sophomore missed the last three games with a shoulder
injury, but could return on Saturday. He had six tackles and a forced fumble
at Florida. Last season as a freshman, Kelly recorded 24 tackles, including
11 in his final two games.
He's not the biggest guy, but middle linebacker Jerrell Wedge sure is productive. The 5-foot-9, 223-pound junior has 22 tackles in his last
three games and is tied for the team lead with 27 stops this season. Last fall
he led all Miami defenders with 114 tackles, 18 tackles for loss (for minus-101
yards), 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. The Kent State game will be Wedge's
14th consecutive start.
Sophomore Evan Harris is slotted to fill the weakside linebacker
position. The 6-foot, 228-pounder has made some big plays this season, including
a 56-yard interception returned for touchdown against Colorado State and he
had six tackles at Missouri. On Saturday he'll start his 10th straight
game and 17th overall.
Leading tackler, Ryan Kennedy, suffered a knee injury last week at Missouri
and will miss the Kent State game.
Kokal should hold down one of the starting spots at safety for Miami.
The injury bug hit the Miami secondary, too. Senior strong safety and team
captain Jordan Gafford suffered a head injury last week and is not
expected to play Saturday.
In Gafford's place could be junior Anthony Kokal, a 6-foot,
206-pounder. Kokal, son of former Kent State quarterback Greg Kokal, who led
Kent State to its only conference title, had a season-high eight tackles last
week at Missouri and 14 on the year.
At free safety, it's 6-foot-1, 200-pounder Pat Hinkel, a sophomore.
Hinkel leads the team with two interceptions and has 15 tackles on the year.
The cornerbacks should be freshman Dayonne Nunley and sophomore D.J. Brown.
Nunley, a 5-foot-8, 173-pounder, has 15 tackles, while Brown, a
6-foot-1, 176-pounder, has 17 stops on the year.
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