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Baker and Stroud talk defense

Baker and Stroud talk defense

Stefan Adams
An early concern during spring practice for defensive coordinator Blake Baker and his Miami defense has been the play of the secondary, which has given up a lot of big plays. UM is replacing 3 out of their 4 starters from last season, and the lack of experience is showing.

“Right now, I think we’re being exposed in 7-on-7, have to get better there, better communication,” Baker said of the secondary. “We just have to work on improving ourselves daily, don’t worry about if we’re starting or not or where we are on the depth chart. Just worry about what we can do on that specific play to get better. We have a long way to go still.”

Sophomore corner DJ Ivey has primarily worked on the second team this spring, but has also gotten looks with the ones as well. Baker feels Ivey has flashed plenty of talent, but is still looking for more consistency from the second year corner.

“He’s doing some really good things, some not so good things. Consistency is his biggest deal, being more physical at the point of attack. But he flashes,” Baker said of Ivey. “He’s pushing Al Blades and competition is going to make them better. He’s got a great skill set, his athletic ability is second to none.”

At the safety position, Baker was also asked about the progress of sophomore Gurvan Hall, who has switched back and forth from the first to the second team with injuries at safety.

“He is doing some really good things. He’s super athletic,” Baker said of Hall. “One thing I’ve heard (that’s different) from last year to this year is a sense of urgency. He’s a sharp kid. He’s fun loving and goofy but he’s very smart, always in tune to what you’re saying. Reps are going to be his deal, he just needs experience, and communication.”

Although the secondary might be struggling to find their footing, Baker has been much more pleased with where the defensive line is at, particularly on the interior.

“Across the board inside, I’m happy where we’re at,” Baker said. “Jon Ford, he’s just a large human. I can’t say enough about all those guys inside. He’s standing out, Nesta is standing out, playing with a sense of urgency as well.”

Out on the edge, freshman early enrollee Jahfari Harvey has been working with the 2nd team at defensive end and has impressed Baker so far.

“He’s very impressive,” Baker said. “Especially for being a senior in high school really right now. There’s days the install gets to him a little bit. He’s going to be a problem whenever he figures it out and plays confidently. He has a real natural ability to rush the passer, is a physical kid. I’m happy where he’s at.”


**New DL coach Todd Stroud isn’t coming to Miami to upset the apple cart. In Manny Diaz’s system where the defensive line has produced staggering outputs over the past 3 seasons regardless of DL coach, Stroud is simply here to keep things as status quo as possible.

“They’ve been coached up very well, obviously, the past three years,” Stroud said of Miami’s D-Line. “We’re just plugging myself in the system here, making a few subtle changes, and same horse, different driver type of situation. The transition has been very smooth.”

Of his new charges, Stroud is already beginning to see three guys in particular start to stand out this spring: senior DE Scott Patchan, juniors Jon Garvin at DE and Jon Ford at DT.

“There’s two or three kids right now in the front, on the edge - Garvin is an exceptional talent,” Stroud said. “Patchan is having a great spring as well. He’s obviously played a lot of football. Both those guys are veterans. On the inside, Jon Ford is having an exceptional spring, has a great body, is learning, embracing what we’re doing. He’s been phenomenal this spring.”

While the first team defensive line has been exceptional, Stroud is still looking for more from his second unit.

“I think the biggest challenge you have is developing your two-deep. We have some challenges there, have some guys that need to get better, step up,” Stroud said. “You have to be two-deep in this league because they’re all going to get an opportunity to play quite a bit. We can put one group out there probably as good as anybody, but your two-deep is where you win."

A few guys that are starting to get their feet under them on the second team are Jahfari Harvey and Nesta Silvera, according to Stroud.

On Harvey: “The install had his head swimming. Now that we’ve got a few practices in, he’s leveled off the past couple of days and is starting to do the assignments. What an exceptional talent. He’s certainly the right guy to step in and play that position, carry the torch at some point. He’s making great progress.”

On Silvera: “Nesta is having a great spring. He really is. He’s one of those twos that is having an opportunity right now to push for a job and I’m sure that’ll carry into the fall. His work ethic, intensity, he’s been great. And he’s been very coachable… he has to learn to control his emotions a little bit, like they all do, and he’ll be great. He’s falling in line and doing a great job. Really like the kid.”

Head coach Manny Diaz has been connected to Stroud since they were both at NC State in the 2000’s, and that prior relationship played a role in Stroud ultimately ending up at Miami.

“Guys like Manny, as smart and well-thought as he is, in the coaching profession they stick out like a sore thumb,” Stroud said. “My wife will verify this - I said after two years on the staff with Manny, `That guy will be a great head coach one day. He will make it and be a head coach.’ Sure enough, it happened here, which is phenomenal.”

While he was originally slated to join Diaz at Temple, Stroud was unsure if he’d have a job at UM once the plan changed and Diaz ultimately decided to remain at Miami.

“I didn’t think I’d have a job here,” Stroud said. “Then (Diaz) was able to hire me as chief of staff. As the worm turned, three weeks later and I’m back on the field doing what I do. So everything fell into place, it’s an amazing opportunity. I’m so thankful to be here. This is a great opportunity for me.”

Stroud has a unique backstory that details how he overcame adversity in no small terms. After being diagnosed with the blood disease amyloidosis in 2015, he was originally given two to three years to live. Now in 2019, his condition has improved dramatically, and he spoke about how he got to this point.

“Amyloidosis is a rare form of terminal cancer, a blood disorder and it’s treatable,” Stroud said. “I was very blessed up in Ohio, had the Cleveland Clinic. And here I have the University of Miami Hospital System and the care has been unbelievable. It’s just kind of an ongoing thing that I have. It’s kind of like Iron Man - I go in for tune-ups every once in a while. It’s under control. So, it’s all good, I feel good. And I’m just rocking and rolling ready to write this next chapter.”
 

Comments (19)

Arrivals of the freshman CBs, if they are game ready, and Bolden should hopefully help the secondary.
 
Decent is starting to look like an understatement. I'd bet that the Defensive Line will be our best position by the time August comes around.

And Trevon Hill isn't even here yet. And it sounds like Patchan isn't going to let that starting job go easily come Fall. That will be a great battle to follow along with the Ivey/Blades Jr battle. Where is Rousseau? No mention of him at all this Spring so far and he was the star last year. (If hes injured and out all Spring, my bad I must have missed it)

Can't say enough how huge Ford stepping up is. That is a game changer on this D. No mention of Bethel..guess he is just steady eddie. Nothing bad but nothing special either.
 
We need that DL to wreck and take pressure off our young secondary

A great pass rush can make up for some deficiencies. There is talent at dB just need the young guys to be able to communicate and not busy on assignments.
 
And Trevon Hill isn't even here yet. And it sounds like Patchan isn't going to let that starting job go easily come Fall. That will be a great battle to follow along with the Ivey/Blades Jr battle. Where is Rousseau? No mention of him at all this Spring so far and he was the star last year. (If hes injured and out all Spring, my bad I must have missed it)

Can't say enough how huge Ford stepping up is. That is a game changer on this D. No mention of Bethel..guess he is just steady eddie. Nothing bad but nothing special either.

Thankfully Ford was able to watch MCintosh and Willis the last 2 years. Those guys were the best DT's we have had in the last decade and it isn't even close which is crazy to think we haven't had anyone on their level in that long. That is how Championship teams are formed. You learn from top end players and keep it going.
 
Lots of positive things to take away from that Gurvan Hall mention

He's a player that redshirting would have done him well, alot of these guys would benefit Greatly from redshirting!
 
Feeling very good about the DLine. LBs will be OK too. Need to shore up the secondary, but strong play from the front 7 plus adding Bolden, Keontra and the two Freshman CBs should help.

Overall, I think our D has the potential to be just good as last year's D and actually better in some statistical categories.
 
I was hoping to hear Jordan Miller was wrecking havoc. If he can give starter production our DL will be the best it has been in 15 years. Rosseau I believe will shine come fall after getting fully over his injury. Need to hear status of LB play too. This should help DB play as well.
 
Feeling very good about the DLine. LBs will be OK too. Need to shore up the secondary, but strong play from the front 7 plus adding Bolden, Keontra and the two Freshman CBs should help.

Overall, I think our D has the potential to be just good as last year's D and actually better in some statistical categories.

Just having an offense with a pulse and an average punting game will make the D look that much better
 
Thanks @Stefan Adams great work as usual. I truly think the dline will be just as good as the previous two seasons and may even exceed them to some degree statistically.
 
D looking solid and there's still a few pieces of the puzzle to add in the summer. Coach Stroud seems like a great guy and coach. The players seem to like him and he stepped up when Simpson bolted. All the while battling cancer.
 
Feeling very good about the DLine. LBs will be OK too. Need to shore up the secondary, but strong play from the front 7 plus adding Bolden, Keontra and the two Freshman CBs should help.

Overall, I think our D has the potential to be just good as last year's D and actually better in some statistical categories.

Respectfully, disagree. I think we regress this year on Defense. Probably closer to 2017 Defense.
 

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Manvel, TX
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