Matchup of the Week: UM Safeties vs. FIU Run Attack

Matchup of the Week: UM Safeties vs. FIU Run Attack

Cory Grimes
Matchup of the Week: Miami Safeties vs. FIU Run Attack

This week’s game against UM’s lil’ cousin FIU is yet another tune up game, glorified scrimmage, whatever you want to call it. Playing against a crosstown foe in the Golden Panthers of FIU, this one has some added zest to it. Many players on both teams know each other and grew up playing with each other in South Florida. The competitive spirit for both squads should be high in the last game before the ACC slate begins. FIU comes in with a 2-1 record and a strong running attack with almost 700 yards on the ground through 3 games. It’d be easy to point to the trenches as the key factor in this one. However, the front 7 aren’t the only guys who play a key role in stopping the run. This week’s matchup of the week is the Miami Safeties vs. FIU’s Running attack.

I do recognize that there were a handful of missed plays from the secondary against Toledo’s passing game. Most of those said plays were at the hands of Florida native Dionate Johnson, who I truly believe is one of the better receivers UM will see all year. Don’t be surprised to see him get a chance on Sundays. With all that being said, I feel that our secondary will take their game up a notch after an underwhelming performance by their standards. I’m sure Michael Jackson is itching for another QB to test him, so that he can redeem himself. The defensive backs, as a whole, should have no trouble with the passing game of FIU. So, I take my focus elsewhere. Our safeties play a huge role in putting a cap on the opponent’s run game. Jaquan Johnson, especially, is a guy who does a great job of being an added defender in the box from the safety position, who can make plays at or near the line of scrimmage. With Johnson out this week, there will be major shoes to fill. Last week, there was a palpable difference in Miami’s defense in Johnson’s absence. This week the safety group will have to have to work as a group to add that support against an FIU team whose offense relies on being able to run the ball.

Amari Carter, who was also unavailable last week, has a great opportunity to prove himself against FIU. He is the type of guy who loves to get his nose dirty in the run game. I am eager to see 5 fly through the alley and light a ball carrier up this week. Carter will likely be the starter, and I have to imagine he takes the bulk of the reps over fan favorite Robert Knowles… And maybe, just maybe, Gurvan Hall will get a chance to go for a spin this week and show off his skills. He’s another guy like Johnson who plays sideline to sideline and is not afraid to come down and lay the wood in the running game. Seriously, I wouldn’t expect to see Hall get a huge amount of significant reps, but I do think he’ll see more reps this week than he has all year. Johnson’s injury is, of course, a huge negative for the UM defense. Anytime a team loses an All-American and team leader, there will be a drop off. But this is an opportunity for these young guys to show what they are all about. Game time reps are the best way to learn, and for this youthful group to get meaningful reps early on in the year, it will only be a positive for the team down the road.

The guy who will be playing opposite of those aforementioned guys, Sheldrick Redwine, has had a bit of a quiet start to 2018. Redwine’s exceptional play in the spring through camp was one of the big stories in the offseason. As a senior, Redwine was set to have a huge 2018. With only 11 tackles through 3 games, that’s not what he was expecting for himself. Through these first few games, I have asked myself a couple of times, “Where’s Redwine?” He just hasn’t had the impact that you’d expect from a player of his caliber. Redwine has continued to improve each and every year since he stepped on campus. Despite a slow start, I don’t expect that trend to stop in his senior campaign. I think this game against FIU, without his sidekick Jaquan Johnson, could be a breakout game for Redwine in 2018. I look for him to assert himself in the run game tomorrow and lead the way for the young safeties to follow.

Jaquan Johnson isn’t a guy that can just be replaced. He often leads the team in tackles and is a major factor in Miami’s run defense. It will take a concerted group effort from Redwine and company to fill that role. To be honest, Miami’s front 7 should have no problem with FIU’s run attack, but when the safeties start getting involved in the run game too, it’s an even scarier sight for the opposition. As I mentioned, UM has the athletes on the outside to dare the FIU offense to throw the ball. This will allow the defense to be aggressive in the run game and entirely stiff any hopes of moving the ball for Butch Jones’ bunch.

Miami 51 FIU 14
 

Comments (4)

another interesting matchup is CB Trajan Bandy v WR Austin Maloney, both Christopher Columbus High School grads who played together when they CCHS made their last playoff run all the way to the state championship. Maloney balled during the run and had some great games. He's a slow Berrios, great hands.
 

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