Coach Speak: Diaz on how team handles adversity; Simpson leads UM's most productive unit

Coach Speak: Diaz on how team handles adversity; Simpson leads UM's most productive unit

When trying to put into context the FSU comeback last week and UM’s growth this season, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz compared it to the first game against LSU, when the Canes got down early and seemed to fold under the pressure.

“What I loved is the difference between how we handled adversity in the LSU game as opposed to the FSU game,” Diaz said. “The games were very similar. Really, we were playing well and the field position was stacked dramatically against us in the first half. We gave up a touchdown when weren’t on the field defensively. We almost ended up in the exact same score as we were in the LSU game. LSU game we got very negative. There was no response.

“This game, the opposite. One of my favorite thing was after [Sheldrick] Redwine’s fumble, the attitude of our team on the field, celebrating. We were still down 20 points. Really, the attitude of the stadium, the fans’ part too. Theoretically, you’d say, ‘we’re still down 20.’ But it was not that way. It was very positive. It was as if we believed that, at that moment, that that was a play that would turn the game around. It’s easy to say in hindsight. But at that moment, our guys were very upbeat and positive. That is where, from me, they get the most credit.”

The UM defense has been doing numbers this season and it has become markedly difficult to move the ball against Diaz’ unit. Miami is 1st nationally in opponent third down % (19.8) and 1st in TFL per game (12), has the #2 total defense in the country at 237.3 ypg, and is 6th in the nation in forcing turnovers (14 total).

“Some of the things we’re putting up numerically, it’s hard to ever imagine it would be that good. What we all kept talking about is before 2016, no one thought our defensive line would be very good.

“When you talk about defensive line, it’s very easy to isolate – ‘they have these stats’ and ‘people are not doing this against them.’ The credit has to go to the linebackers, as well. The way we play our linebackers, the way those guys play downhill, they take double teams off the defensive linemen. This has been the way we’ve played for three years now.”

Keep in mind that those statistics have been accrued with the leader of the defense out for 2 and a half games. S Jaquan Johnson returned to the field on Saturday off a hamstring injury and Diaz noticed the difference in many areas.

“It’s just been fun watching his development,” Diaz said. “Like I said, for him to not play in those two games, and how much it hurt him… to have him out there in that game – that’s what you want your senior year to be. That’s why you come back for your senior year at the University of Miami – to dominate that game.

“And not just dominate it on the field, but he had to do it off the field. He had to say what he had to say in the locker room at halftime and that’s what our team needed to hear at that moment. That’s one of those ones that will go down in Canes folklore.”

After putting all the rivalry win excitement to bed, Miami is now moving on to face a 3-2 Virginia team on the road this week. After almost springing an upset on the Canes last season, the Cavaliers are certainly a dangerous opponent that can’t be overlooked if Miami is to win the Coastal.

“They’re way better than we wished they were. They have found a quarterback (Bryce Perkins), and I think that’s the thing that stands out,” Diaz said. “One way you can tell is they’re 10th in the country on third down conversions. He’s obviously a threat running the ball, and for sure, we’re going to talk about that, but…he can really throw it.

“They’ve sort of changed their personality from what they were a year ago. They have a lot of different formations. They’ve got every personnel group in the world. They’re just unorthodox. They’re different than what you see week in and week out. They instantly came in and caught our guys’ attention. Not to mention what happened in the game last year. They have our full attention, for sure.”

Weather temperatures are expected to get into the 40’s in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday night for when Miami takes on UVA, but Diaz doesn’t expect his defensive rotation to be altered whatsoever.

“It still depends on snap counts and things like that,” Diaz said. “We still sort of play our guys and we’ll always play a lot of guys up front. We’ll rotate the way we rotate.”


**Miami’s defensive line has probably been UM’s most productive unit so far in 2018 and defensive line coach Jess Simpson has made sure his line is prepared to work each and every day in practice.

“You know what, I just spent so many years as a high school coach. And then in the NFL, those guys don’t last long if they are not real pros… from a preparation standpoint,” Simpson said.

So, it’s no surprise that the defensive lineman that leads Miami in TFL and has rocketed up draft boards the first half of this season is also UM’s hardest worker. That’d be DT Gerald Willis, who was also named to the Bednarik Award watch list today, according to Simpson.

“That’s probably the best compliment I could give Gerald - that he is coming into work every single day,” Simpson said. “He is a man on a mission, he wants to be great and he knows that being prepared is how you do that. And it starts with the fact that he loves football and then it goes to he loves this team. And then he has the discipline to really work at it every day and get prepared. He has been a lot of fun.”

Even though Simpson left the Atlanta Falcons to take the job with Miami, he still has a roster loaded with players that will certainly be playing on Sunday’s.

“It’s fun. It is. For my first year here, I really inherited a great room,” Simpson said. “A bunch of great kids, who have been really open to trying to do it the way we want to do it. And they certainly have done a good job so far, but that means nothing right now. We are still in the one day, one practice, stay in this moment kind of mode. If you get out of that, you are going to get in trouble in this game, real fast.”

When talking to the defensive linemen on the team, they all seem to consistently mention how when one teammate makes a big play on defense, that makes everybody more motivated to make the next play. According to Simpson, that’s by design.

“In my group, they all feed off of each other and everything is competitive,” Simpson said. “Whether we are in the meeting room, or out here. It is not just two guys [Garvin and Willis] - they all want to get it. And that’s what makes it fun. A moment you saw Saturday night, is that when one of them has success, they all have success.”

On sophomore DE Jon Garvin’s development: “Just loads of potential. Makes big plays,” Simpson said. “You really can see his growth when you watch his tape from a year ago and watch it now. Really getting better. But has a great skillset. He is a guy who can play the run and set edges. And obviously is a guy who really can be a talented rusher. We talk about it. He is an emerging leader in our program, he is an emerging player. And he is figuring out what it looks like…he is growing right now and that is what is fun to watch, seeing him taking those steps.”

On freshman DT Nesta Silvera’s progress: “It is just being in the moment every single day. And that’s what’s been fun,” Simpson said. “His practice habits and his preparation from Day 1 of summer ball to what it looks right now…he knows immediately when he has made a mistake, he knows when his fundamentals are off. He knows when he has done it right. And then the knowledge and then the desire to do things right. And seeing these other guys has been great for him. Coming in here, he is a big-time player and all kind of expectations that outside people have put on him. I think, really, he has done a super job of managing that. He has really gotten to a good place where he is just focused on today and trying to get a little bit better.”
Joined
Aug 10, 2014
Messages
973
#2
This defense is all about Willis. We all hoped he would be as good as McIntosh but he is better. He is the best DT we have had here since ....maybe Calias Cambell.

Hate to think what our D would be without him.
 
Joined
Aug 22, 2015
Messages
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#3
The Simpson hire is really paying off... The guy knows his stuff... I really hope future recruits are taking notice cause this guy really is showing he can make them great...
 

SinisterCane

Redshirt Freshman
Joined
Nov 30, 2014
Messages
527
#6
I believe Calias Cambell played DE
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2016
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5,240
#7
This defense is all about Willis. We all hoped he would be as good as McIntosh but he is better. He is the best DT we have had here since ....maybe Calias Cambell.

Hate to think what our D would be without him.
Best DT since Wilfork but in terms of level of impact, he could be the best DT at UM all time by the end of the season.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2013
Messages
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#8
Best impact since Wilfork, and it is starting to get to the level of Sapp’s disruption in 94. He was an absolute man possessed that year. Nearly stopped Nebraska and the option single handedly in the bowl.
 
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
39
#9
This defense is all about Willis. We all hoped he would be as good as McIntosh but he is better. He is the best DT we have had here since ....maybe Calias Cambell.

Hate to think what our D would be without him.
Was Calias Campbell not a DE?
 

HEMICANE

Redshirt Freshman
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
127
#11
Best impact since Wilfork, and it is starting to get to the level of Sapp’s disruption in 94. He was an absolute man possessed that year. Nearly stopped Nebraska and the option single handedly in the bowl.
Exactly, Sapp dominated in that game against Nebraska...
 
Joined
Aug 22, 2015
Messages
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#12
Best DT since Wilfork but in terms of level of impact, he could be the best DT at UM all time by the end of the season.
I admire your passion for the team but Jerome Brown will always be the greatest DT ever at UM....
 
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#14
I remember Calais mainly playing DE, it’s possible he slipped inside every once in a while, I don’t remember that, but I definitely remember him as pretty much a DE.
 
Joined
Dec 28, 2012
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2,553
#15
Cold weather game. We don’t seem to do well in those. This is going to be a battle.
 
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Oct 7, 2018
Messages
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#17
Cold weather game. We don’t seem to do well in those. This is going to be a battle.
I wasn't a fan of hearing what the temperature is going to be Saturday. These guys are going from 90's to 40's.
 
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Dec 28, 2012
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2,553
#18
I wasn't a fan of hearing what the temperature is going to be Saturday. These guys are going from 90's to 40's.
It was a great write up by Stefan, but the temperature is the first thing that jumped out to me. They are going to think they just landed in Alaska once they get off the plane.
 
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Feb 3, 2018
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#19
At least the forecast changed as far as rain. Looks like a sunny day and clear night
 
Joined
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#20
I admire your passion for the team but Jerome Brown will always be the greatest DT ever at UM....
I was a freshman at Miami when our starting DT's were Jerome Brown and Kevin Fagan (no slouch). Brown was an absolute beast and the best I've ever seen in Orange and Green. God rest his soul.
 

Ethnicsands

All-American
Joined
Nov 2, 2011
Messages
14,464
#21
This defense is all about Willis. We all hoped he would be as good as McIntosh but he is better. He is the best DT we have had here since ....maybe Calias Cambell.

Hate to think what our D would be without him.
Campbell was not a DT at UM. Willis is our best DT since Wilfork.
 

2019 Commits

WR
6'1"
186
Neptune Beach, FL
OT
6'5"
290
Belleview, FL
OLB
6'0"
200
Fort Lauderdale, FL
OLB
6'3"
200
Fort Lauderdale, FL
S
5'11"
195
Hollywood, FL
CB
5'10"
150
Hollywood, FL
DE
6'3"
220
Vero Beach, FL
OLB
6'2"
195
Miami, FL
DT
6'2"
280
Buford, GA
CB
6'0"
170
Opa Locka, FL

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2018 Schedule

09/02
LSU
Arlington, TX
L 33 - 17
09/08
Savannah State
Miami Gardens, FL
W 77 - 0
09/15
Toledo
Toledo, OH
W 49 - 24
09/22
FIU
Miami Gardens, FL
W 31 - 17
09/27
North Carolina
Miami Gardens, FL
W 47 - 10
10/06
Florida State
Miami Gardens, FL
W 28 - 27
10/13
Virginia
Charlottesville, VA
L 16 - 13
10/26
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA
11/03
Duke
Miami Gardens, FL
11/10
Georgia Tech
Atlanta, GA
11/17
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA
11/24
Pittsburgh
Miami Gardens, FL
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