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Coach Speak: Diaz talks Amari Carter, Simpson on leading the nation in TFL

Coach Speak: Diaz talks Amari Carter, Simpson on leading the nation in TFL

Stefan Adams
After Wednesday’s practice, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz talked about how well Gerald Willis has been playing through three games to start the season. Willis has recorded 7 TFL and 2 sacks through UM’s first 3 games.

“Gerald is playing as good as anybody we’ve had here, for sure,” Diaz said. “He has always been quick and disruptive, but he’s playing so strong and physical at the point of attack. You’ve got to give some credit to [defensive line coach] Jess Simpson and the way he is working with all of our guys on the defensive line.

“Our TFL numbers and sack numbers are all spread out among a big group of people, but Gerald certainly leads the charge. Everything probably happens for a reason, and the timing works out. He has prepared for this moment, I will say, in the last 24 months. He is taking full [advantage] of it.”

Despite what some may think, the Canes do not blitz that much according to Diaz.

“We blitz very infrequently…it’s not a ton this year,” Diaz said. “We always are accused of blitzing more than we actually do because we play so downhill. Mike Pinckney made a tackle for loss last week for a seven- or eight-yard loss on a running play that looked like a blitz, but it’s not. The gap opened, he read ‘run’ and shot in there before the lineman could get him.

“Our guys want to play downhill. We want to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage. When you’ve got guys like Gerald that are causing disruption amongst the offensive line, it’s easy for the linebackers to find cracks in there to get TFL.”

With senior starting safety Jaquan Johnson possibly out this week with a hamstring ailment, sophomore Amari Carter is a candidate to replace him in the starting lineup. Carter, who missed last week’s game due to a funeral, had recorded 6 tackles and 2 TFL in backup duty through UM’s first two games.

“Amari has a calm presence about him,” Diaz said. “He’s a very intelligent young man, certainly a very tough guy. Whenever you have a situation where it’s a ‘next man up’ deal, you don’t need to wear a cape. You don’t need to be Jaquan. You can just be Amari. We love the things he brings to the table. We really missed him in Toledo last week, for sure. He would have gotten a lot of run if he was there. But now is his time and I think he feels very confident that he’s ready to go.”

The defense started strong last week, holding Toledo to zero points on their first 6 drives. Once Johnson went out late in the second quarter, though, the Rockets were able to put together 4 straight scoring drives and got themselves back in the games before UM clamped down to close out the contest.

“They completed two pin-perfect fades to [Diontae Johnson], who’s a great player,” Diaz said. “They threw a dig [route] that we basically had double coverage on and our two guys knocked each other off. We just missed leverage on a tackle and the guy turned and ran for a touchdown.

“Other than that, pass plays I remember were the quarterback having nobody open and taking off and running. I thought that was our biggest issue on our pass defense, was our ability to keep the quarterback in the pocket and to have second-level contain guys that were able to get him. It was a ‘man’ coverage game, which again, if you look at the way the game started for the first six drives, I thought we did pretty well. Then eventually they started making some plays. Jaquan’s presence is felt in so many different ways, though, beyond the X’s and O’s.”

What does the defense need to improve on to take that next step?

“Our consistency,” Diaz said. “The 12 quarters we’ve played against various types of opposition, there’s a lot of dominance on there. The 180 minutes of ball we’ve played there’s 10 minutes in the second quarter of LSU and 10 minutes in the late second quarter, early third quarter of Toledo that’s really not outstanding. Other than that it’s (been good).”


**First year defensive line coach Jess Simpson has picked right up where predecessor Craig Kuligowski left off, getting his talented defensive line to the point where he has them first in the nation in TFL with 35, nearly a whopping 12 per game.

“It starts with the style of play here,” Simpson said. “We talk about getting our feet across the line of scrimmage, running off the ball, never void of fundamentals – for the most part, our guys have done that really well. We can obviously do it even better. That’s kind of our mindset and where we start from. That’s ground zero for us.”

Senior DT Gerald Willis has been the leader of the defense in terms of production, racking up 7 TFL himself.

“‘G’ has had a fast start,” Simpson said. “But he had a great offseason and a great spring, a great summer and a great summer camp. He is a really talented kid. But like I’ve said all summer, I’ve enjoyed coaching the person as much as the player. He’s a really good player, he has played well and it’s because he has prepared well every week.”

Simpson singled out a few of his other linemen for having great starts to the season.

“Joe Jackson has played really, really hard and been really, really solid,” Simpson said. “Jonathan Garvin has done a super job and is a rising star. He could really be a great player. He cares about the game, it’s important to him. Some of those other young guys have done a good job as well.”

One player on the defense that Miami expected a little more from this season was sophomore DT Jon Ford, who has been in a 4th string role and recorded 3 tackles so far in 2018. Simpson feels Ford is improving every day and could be ready to take on a larger role in the near future.

“He’s really moving well,” Simpson said on Ford. “He is big, he’s athletic, he’s a penetrator and he is picking up the system and improving a little bit every day.”

On freshman DT Nesta Silvera: “I’ve seen a guy who’s hungry and wants to learn, who knows he has a lot to learn, but has had a great attitude about it,” Simpson said. “I always talk about getting one percent better. If you look at his progression through camp, you can slowly see him starting to climb and do things a little bit better every day. That’s what ball is – the details of learning how to do the fundamentals, the details of the fundamentals and being able to take those drills to the field and being able to execute in those 11-on-11 situations.”

Miami will continue to rotate their linemen heavily throughout the season according to Simpson.

“The more reps everyone can play the faster everyone can play.”
 

Comments (37)

Interesting point about amount of blitzes. Is Diaz being truthful or just defensive abount the subject? Should be some interesting takes on that.
 
Interesting point about amount of blitzes. Is Diaz being truthful or just defensive abount the subject? Should be some interesting takes on that.

probably defensive, when has Diaz told the truth anyway?
 
Diaz is correct. We don't blitz as much but we are doing a hell of a lot unnecessary Dline stunts that have the same affect as those blitzes.

Its unorganized and chaotic and leaves huge holes in our run defense. We really need to stop doing so many loops and twists combos with our DE's and Dtackles.

Teams have figured out how to counter it.

Every Qb just waits for the stunt, sees the gap and gashes us. Hes gotta add a spy if hes going to keep doing that shid. I dont know what he looks at on tape to correct the players.
 
After reading that I would be shocked if Carter does not start.
 
Diaz is correct. We don't blitz as much but we are doing a hell of a lot unnecessary Dline stunts that have the same affect as those blitzes.

Its unorganized and chaotic and leaves huge holes in our run defense. We really need to stop doing so many loops and twists combos with our DE's and Dtackles.

Teams have figured out how to counter it.

Every Qb just waits for the stunt, sees the gap and gashes us. Hes gotta add a spy if hes going to keep doing that shid. I dont know what he looks at on tape to correct the players.

Lol no they havent. Were #1 in tfl.
 
Simpson might be good. Who knows? He gets no credit for Willis though. That dude has been playing DT since the Eisenhower administration.

U can just see the raw talent he’s one of those above the X’s and O’s guy.

Nesta has that we need to get one of those each year. Hopefully Simpson can real one in
 
Diaz is correct. We don't blitz as much but we are doing a hell of a lot unnecessary Dline stunts that have the same affect as those blitzes.

Its unorganized and chaotic and leaves huge holes in our run defense. We really need to stop doing so many loops and twists combos with our DE's and Dtackles.

Teams have figured out how to counter it.

Every Qb just waits for the stunt, sees the gap and gashes us. Hes gotta add a spy if hes going to keep doing that shid. I dont know what he looks at on tape to correct the players.

It’s all Beyoncé’s fault
 
Simpson might be good. Who knows? He gets no credit for Willis though. That dude has been playing DT since the Eisenhower administration.


Maybe, but in his previous four years of college football he wasn't that great. His step up this year may have nothing to do with Simpson, but thus far, he has been a much different player.
 
Maybe, but in his previous four years of college football he wasn't that great. His step up this year may have nothing to do with Simpson, but thus far, he has been a much different player.

He was the best DT on the roster last season. He has been a giant headcase going back to his UF days, but nobody has ever questioned his talent.
 
Glad to see Amari is taking the lead role on safety. He and Redwine should be a great pair.
 
Maybe, but in his previous four years of college football he wasn't that great. His step up this year may have nothing to do with Simpson, but thus far, he has been a much different player.

This is entirely accurate. Over his collegiate career he's only played two full seasons, one of which he was a freshman on a deep defensive unit at UF, the other was in Richt's first year here where he was 2nd string. The other two years he had his leave of absence and the year he had to take off because of transferring.
 
I still want to see Nesta in the first-half. Not only when Miami has a comfortable fourth quarter margin.

He was in on the last drive of the first half. Whole d line let them back in the game, but great experience for him. Wishing a qb can get reps with game in the balance still.
 
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