Position Group Superlatives - Linebackers

Position Group Superlatives - Linebackers

Stefan Adams
Miami returns all three starters at the LB position going into the 2018 season, but the spot had its ups and downs as the last year moved along. Coverage struggles in particular from the LB’s has led to defensive coordinator Manny Diaz de-emphasizing the SAM linebacker and adding the “striker” role, a hybrid safety/linebacker that is quick enough to hang with receivers and match-up with tight ends in coverage. How the reps will all shake out with a brand new position to account for has led to a lot of questions, but there’s plenty of talented and experience depth in this unit to predict big things from the LB’s in 2018. Without further delay, here are the linebacker superlatives going into the 2018 season.


Most Valuable - Shaquille Quarterman

Last year, Quarterman was second on the team with 83 tackles, 7 TFL, with 2.5 sacks and 5 PBU’s, earning a spot on the 2nd team All-ACC roster. He’s a true leader in the middle for the Canes that the team looks to in times of strife. Once he locks on, you can trust Shaq to make the stop, as he doesn’t miss many tackles and sheds blocks very well. This year, he’ll work on going from very good to great by making more impact plays within the defense. His value is upped even more as a true middle linebacker that can make all the reads and calls. This team has plenty of good, young backup OLB’s to step in for starters, but there would be a massive drop-off in my opinion to someone like a Mike Smith or BJ Jennings if Quarterman went down.


Big Play Waiting to Happen - Michael Pinckney

If you’re talking huge, momentum-type plays, Pinckney arguably had the best season of the linebackers last year, flying around Manny Diaz’s defense to finish with 68 tackles, 11 TFL, and 3.5 sacks, plus an interception. At 6’1” 220 pounds, Pinckney is full of impact plays and is a heat-seeking missile into the opponent’s backfield. Along with turnovers, Diaz heavily emphasizes the “havoc stats” in particular (TFL, sacks, QB hurries) and Pinckney is his most accomplished charge in this department at LB. Pinckney has also continued to build strength and reshape his body in the off-season. With a big junior season, Pinckney will be a potential early departure candidate for the NFL.


Most to Prove - Zach McCloud

McCloud was a bit of a weak link at LB this past season. He was constantly out of position, takes poor angles to the ball-carrier, and really seemed to struggle with his understanding of the defensive concepts, often "guessing" instead of making the proper read. McCloud’s play led to some of the more noticeable defensive busts of the season. While he regressed a bit, McCloud is known as the team’s hardest hitter and he recorded 48 tackles, 4.5 for losses, with 2 sacks last year. He really needed a big spring, but missed almost all of it with a wrist injury. Also, where exactly does McCloud fit in as a true SAM linebacker with the addition of the striker position in Manny’s defense? I’m not so sure. The coaches are still high on him, but he’ll need to up his level of play, or risk losing snaps to a hungry underclassman.


Biggest Wildcard - Derrick Smith

At the newly proclaimed “striker” position, Smith went the entire spring beginning to end as the starter. Smith is the complete package at the spot and has been exactly what the coaches are looking for, being quick enough to cover slot receivers, while being physical enough to shed blocks and make tackles at the line. The linebackers struggled mightily in coverage as a group last year, with teams picking apart the middle of Miami’s defense in the intermediate game with regularity. At 6’2” and 200 pounds, if Smith can continue to put on weight, he will be that hybrid LB/S type that Miami needs and they can use his speed and coverage skills to improve the defense, especially in passing situations. While this sounds good in theory, we haven’t really seen the striker position function in an actual game yet. Also, how often will we see this striker look over the traditional 4-3 base defense? That’s unclear for now, but Smith’s continued progress could lead to less reps from McCloud in this defense overall.


Highest Riser - Waynmon Steed

After sitting out his freshman season recovering from a knee injury and watching his LB classmates get reps on the field, Steed really needed a big spring to make up ground and ensure he didn’t fall behind in the pecking order. Besides maybe Gregory Rousseau, Steed was probably the most mentioned young player on the defense and the kid had an outstanding spring by all accounts. He was easily Miami’s best backup linebacker this spring and was flying all over the field making plays and showing a nose for the football. The Canes really needed an infusion of athletic depth into the program at LB and Steed was just what the doctor ordered. I’m very excited to see what he can bring to the team this season and beyond.
 

Comments (13)

Miami returns all three starters at the LB position going into the 2018 season, but the spot had its ups and downs as the last year moved along. Coverage struggles in particular from the LB’s has led to defensive coordinator Manny Diaz de-emphasizing the SAM linebacker and adding the “striker” role, a hybrid safety/linebacker that is quick enough to hang with receivers and match-up with tight ends in coverage. How the reps will all shake out with a brand new position to account for has led to a lot of questions, but there’s plenty of talented and experience depth in this unit to predict big things from the LB’s in 2018. Without further delay, here are the linebacker superlatives going into the 2018 season.


Most Valuable - Shaquille Quarterman

Last year, Quarterman was second on the team with 83 tackles, 7 TFL, with 2.5 sacks and 5 PBU’s, earning a spot on the 2nd team All-ACC roster. He’s a true leader in the middle for the Canes that the team looks to in times of strife. Once he locks on, you can trust Shaq to make the stop, as he doesn’t miss many tackles and sheds blocks very well. This year, he’ll work on going from very good to great by making more impact plays within the defense. His value is upped even more as a true middle linebacker that can make all the reads and calls. This team has plenty of good, young backup OLB’s to step in for starters, but there would be a massive drop-off in my opinion to someone like a Mike Smith or BJ Jennings if Quarterman went down.


Big Play Waiting to Happen - Michael Pinckney

If you’re talking huge, momentum-type plays, Pinckney arguably had the best season of the linebackers last year, flying around Manny Diaz’s defense to finish with 68 tackles, 11 TFL, and 3.5 sacks, plus an interception. At 6’1” 220 pounds, Pinckney is full of impact plays and is a heat-seeking missile into the opponent’s backfield. Along with turnovers, Diaz heavily emphasizes the “havoc stats” in particular (TFL, sacks, QB hurries) and Pinckney is his most accomplished charge in this department at LB. Pinckney has also continued to build strength and reshape his body in the off-season. With a big junior season, Pinckney will be a potential early departure candidate for the NFL.


Most to Prove - Zach McCloud

McCloud was a bit of a weak link at LB this past season. He was constantly out of position, takes poor angles to the ball-carrier, and really seemed to struggle with his understanding of the defensive concepts, often "guessing" instead of making the proper read. McCloud’s play led to some of the more noticeable defensive busts of the season. While he regressed a bit, McCloud is known as the team’s hardest hitter and he recorded 48 tackles, 4.5 for losses, with 2 sacks last year. He really needed a big spring, but missed almost all of it with a wrist injury. Also, where exactly does McCloud fit in as a true SAM linebacker with the addition of the striker position in Manny’s defense? I’m not so sure. The coaches are still high on him, but he’ll need to up his level of play, or risk losing snaps to a hungry underclassman.


Biggest Wildcard - Derrick Smith

At the newly proclaimed “striker” position, Smith went the entire spring beginning to end as the starter. Smith is the complete package at the spot and has been exactly what the coaches are looking for, being quick enough to cover slot receivers, while being physical enough to shed blocks and make tackles at the line. The linebackers struggled mightily in coverage as a group last year, with teams picking apart the middle of Miami’s defense in the intermediate game with regularity. At 6’2” and 200 pounds, if Smith can continue to put on weight, he will be that hybrid LB/S type that Miami needs and they can use his speed and coverage skills to improve the defense, especially in passing situations. While this sounds good in theory, we haven’t really seen the striker position function in an actual game yet. Also, how often will we see this striker look over the traditional 4-3 base defense? That’s unclear for now, but Smith’s continued progress could lead to less reps from McCloud in this defense overall.


Highest Riser - Waynmon Steed

After sitting out his freshman season recovering from a knee injury and watching his LB classmates get reps on the field, Steed really needed a big spring to make up ground and ensure he didn’t fall behind in the pecking order. Besides maybe Gregory Rousseau, Steed was probably the most mentioned young player on the defense and the kid had an outstanding spring by all accounts. He was easily Miami’s best backup linebacker this spring and was flying all over the field making plays and showing a nose for the football. The Canes really needed an infusion of athletic depth into the program at LB and Steed was just what the doctor ordered. I’m very excited to see what he can bring to the team this season and beyond.
Steed personally reminds me of Denzel Perryman. However, Steed was heavier and stouter coming out of HS than Perryman.
 
Great write-up on our LB corps. I too would like to see Shaw rise up to greatness this year and lead the team in tackles. That would show that he’s not taking bad angles to the ball and really excelling in coverage duties. Also great to hear Steed stepping up after missing last year with the knee injury. We need quality backups to add depth to our LB position.

As to the new Striker position, I think it will be almost 50/50 that we’ll be in this defense over the base 4-3. Teams that learned to spread us out and exploit the middle of the field are going to test us again to see if we have that issue resolved.
 
Zach McCloud either needs to step up and bounce back from a really mediocre soph year or he'll be going to Bolivian
 

2021 Commits

S
6'5"
220
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DT
6'4"
255
Miami, FL
OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
DT
6'4"
290
Miami, FL
DE
6'5"
210
Miami, FL
WR
6'2"
180
Miami, FL
RB
6'0"
225
Hollywood, FL
TE
6'4"
210
Frisco, TX
STR
6'3"
190
Melbourne, FL
S
5'11"
200
Miami, FL

Latest Predictions

by Stylie
Medium
by whoopingcane
Certain
by whoopingcane
Certain
by whoopingcane
Certain
by PhillDaCane
Certain

2020 Schedule

09/10
UAB
Miami Gardens, FL
W 31 - 14
09/19
Louisville
Louisville, KY
W 47 - 34
09/26
Florida State
Miami Gardens, FL
W 52 - 10
10/10
Clemson
Clemson, SC
10/17
Pittsburgh
Miami Gardens, FL
10/24
Virginia
Miami Gardens, FL
11/06
NC State
Raleigh, NC
11/14
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA
11/21
Georgia Tech
Miami Gardens, FL
11/28
Wake Forest
Winston-Salem, NC
12/05
North Carolina
Miami Gardens, FL
Top