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Canes pass defense -- from safeties to corners -- not getting the job done

The Miami Hurricanes haven't been very good on run defense this season (they rank 82nd nationally).

But the pass defense hasn’t been any better. Here are some sobering, eye-opening stats on UM’s struggles:

Ray Ray Armstrong> The Hurricanes' pass efficiency defense has dropped from fifth nationally a year ago (99.12 rating) to 102nd (144.37) heading into Saturday's 3 p.m. kickoff against Duke (3-5, 1-3 ACC) at Sun Life Stadium.

> UM has surrendered 12 touchdown passes on defense (they gave up nine last season) and is on pace to give up 18. The most passing TDs UM defense has surrendered since 2000 is 15, set in 2008 and 2007.

> Opposing quarterbacks are completing 65.28 percent of their attempts against UM (in 2010 it was 49.7 percent). This year's number ranks 12th-worst among Football Bowl Subdivision schools. The previous completion percentage high set by opposing QBs against UM since 2000 was 56.81 in 2007.

> The Hurricanes aren't only struggling to get interceptions (UM has four this season), they aren't getting their hands on many balls at all. Of the 16 pass breakups, only eight belong to the secondary: Ray-Ray Armstrong has two and Brandon McGee, Thomas Finnie, Lee Chambers, Mike Williams, Andrew Swasey and Vaughn Telemaque each have one. Last season, UM had 47 pass breakups and 16 interceptions -- 36 PBUs from its secondary. Brandon Harris alone had 10 pass breakups last year.

> And while UM's defense has given up 10 runs of 20 yards or more, it’s surrendered 20 through the air -- including six pass plays of 20 yards or more that have gone for touchdowns.

Of course, a lack of a consistent pass rush hasn't helped. UM is on pace to finish with 27 sacks (the Canes had 37 a year ago). Nor does it help either that last year's starting cornerbacks Harris, an All-ACC cornerback (2nd round pick by Texans) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (3rd round pick Raiders) are now in the NFL.

But after eight games, Armstrong and Telemaque -- who were supposed to be the strength of the secondary -- haven't played like the best safeties on the team in Al Golden's eyes. And McGee, the one returning experienced player at cornerback, hasn't turned the corner yet.

"At safety we're not where we need to be," Golden said a day after the loss to Virginia. "Clearly JoJo [Nicolas] is playing the best for us, has been consistent in his ability to operate the defense and the way he's playing and leading. We're not disciplined enough and keep giving up explosive plays on the back end... our tackling is inconsistent as well. At times Vaughn [Telemaque] and Ray [Armstrong] tackled well. But there's still too many times we don't execute the way we need to.

"[At corner] we have to get McGee over the hump now. He's doing so many things better, is becoming reliable. He has to come to the point where he's dependable, that he frees it up and starts to make some plays for us - interceptions or some big tackles, caused fumbles, those type of things. McGee is maturing, improving, but we really need him to finish strong here in this final stretch. And clearly we need more from Mike Williams, Finnie, [Lee] Chambers at this point in time."

Defensive backs coach Paul Williams, whose secondary his final year at Temple last year finished 14th nationally (110.98) in pass efficiency defense, said the turnaround has to start with getting more out of Armstrong and Telemaque.

"Your safeties need to run the show. They need to be your quarterback. They got to get it right, make all the checks. And we got to do our job," Williams said. "Again, we're just inconsistent. We got talent, but at the end of the day it's all about production."

Armstrong, tabbed in the preseason as an All-American candidate, has 18 tackles and a fumble recovery in four games. Telemaque, who has started at safety all eight games, is fifth on the team with 40 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.

Armstrong said Wednesday he doesn't think he's played well since returning from a four-game NCAA-mandated suspension, but isn't playing the layoff or the new defensive schemes brought in during the spring. He's playing himself. "I think I can do better," he said.

How? "Just working on staying disciplined, being responsible for my responsibilities, Armstrong said. "Just got to listen to the coaches and trust the calls. When you're deep, stay deep. When you're up, play the run. It's not tough. You just have to focus in and do what coaches call."

McGee (25 tackles, 2.5 for loss, a sack and a pass breakup) said Tuesday he feels like he has made strides in his tackling, but said he knows he has to do more. “It's definitely important for me to just lit it rip," McGee said. "Turnovers come when everybody does their job, plays their role and the offense makes a mistake. It's about being patient."

Golden, though, doesn't want McGee to be patient anymore. He wants McGee to play faster and trust his technique.

"There's a curl route against Virginia and it's man to man and he's too far off the ball," Golden said. "He's one of the top three fastest guys on the team. He needs to challenge that guy a little more, trust his technique, have the confidence to be a little more aggressive and assertive, start making more plays on the ball. He's ready to do that."

McGee said he would like to be more physical, but is asked to play differently in UM’s defensive scheme. "I actually played a lot of press [last year]. It was a different defense. Now we play a lot of off," McGee said. "I feel like I've been able to make the transition. Playing off, playing press is pretty much the same to me now. "But I know I have to do more. Whatever they call, you play within the system. I pretty much feel like I can run with any receiver. So, playing press man, bump and run is almost second nature to me."

Duke's passing offense ranks 28th nationally and quarterback Sean Renfree ranks 25th in the NCAA in completion percentage (65.7). Receivers Conner Vernon (51 catches, 740 yards, 4 TDs) and Donovan Varner (37 catches, 443 yards, 0 TDs) both have over 175 catches in their career and could both pass Duke's all-time receiving leader Clarkston Hines this Saturday. And Duke's offense has at least 32 plays of 20 yards or more this season.

"It's going to be a great challenge," McGee said. "Being that those guys are from Miami I expect some trash talking. I know Conner [Vernon] and [Donovan] Varner. I played on the same 7-on-7 team with Conner and have a good relationship with him. We just have to make sure we don't let him loose."


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It's a double edged sword, D'Onforio, who all the armchair football geniuses on this blog hate, isn't bringing the pressure because he's afraid the defense would get beat deep even more than they already are.

But Golden sounded like he's insisting on pressure against Duke based on his comments earlier in the week, so we may get to see whether or not the arm chair geniuses were right.

For the record I'm all for blitzing and letting the DBs do their job but I sure don't assume I know more than the defensive coordinator of a major college program for having that fairly obvious opinion.

They've been burned several times this year in man coverage. The DBs just aren't good enough.

I've said all year we make average quarterbacks and offensive attacks look all world! :-(

As far as the long touchdown passes go that's not really on the corners anymore - quarterbacks consider receivers that are single covered deep to be open.

It's the safeties job to prevent the long plays and Armstrong and Telemaque have been doing way too much freelancing this year.

Enough with the " arm chair bUbba " B.S. Bottom line is this D-coordinator and the defense is responsible for AT LEAST 3 of Miami's losses.

The D-staff has just made some blunders and haven't adjusted to the opponents during game time. That's all.

And like loyal Hurricane fan BG1906 above mentioned, Miami's D-unit has made opposing QB's look ALL-CONFERENCE and what not!

No sir, this Cane defense AIN'T improved a lick this season. yeah, yeah there was Ga.Tech and Ohio St.

By the way, U'all Cane FAIRWEATHER rUffians wanna' example of IMPROVEMENT. Enter Ohio St's offense.

For instance, since Ohio St.'s loss to Miami, the Buckeye offense has STEADILY improved and lo and behold, the Buckeyes even defeated Top 10 Wisconsin.

Matter of fact, IF Ohio St. were to play the Hurricanes today, the Buckeyes would EASILY defeat Miami. No if's, but's or maybe's!

you cant stop anyone when you play 10-15 yards off the line of scrimmage as a db. thats all on coach d and his crappy defensive scheme



In other words, all I'm asking is some bloody IMPROVEMENT from D'Onofrio's defense. Is that asking too mUch. Eh. Because it's the NINETH game of the season and RELATIVE IMPROVEMENT should've happened a couple of games ago. See Virginia.

By the way, what IF the Dukie Vitale offense garners 370+ total offensive yards on Saturday.

Will EUDOCIMUS and like-minded Cane rUffians still be APOLOGISTS of D'Onofrio. LMAO

I just hope Miami's offense comes out of it's slUmber. Otherwise, F.S.U. is going to bloody MOLEST The Golden One's squad in Tally!! Say it ain't so, good ol' boy bUbba's.

D'Onforio doesn't seem like a good coach and I don't know that he'll neccessarily be retained for next season, but no matter how many points Duke scores I'm not going to be convinced that I or anyone else on this blog knows more about coaching a college defense than UM's defensive coordinator.

I'm sure all your men play on a string and there are very few missed tackles or lapses in communication when you're leading UM into battle on your playstation but it doesn't always work that way in real life.

Like I said, I'll be curious to see if Golden makes him bring pressure and more importantly if D'Onforio was right to be afraid of relying on his safeties.

Ain't no FAIRWEATHER, BANDWAGON Cane ruffian saying they know more than D'Onofrio. Eh.

However, the evidence is in the defensive STATISTICAL pUdding. Get outta' here.

The "U" better be ready for this one. Duke is no joke. If the Canes sleepwalk through this game it could turn into an embarrassing loss. With the way this team has played defensively I hate to think what Florida State will do to the Canes next week. FSU looked pretty good detroying North Carolina State 34-0. This was the same North Carolina State team who had the previous week beaten Virginia 28-14. I as a fan I would love to see this team finish strong and win 3 out of the last 4 games. All games look winnable except FSU but with this team one never knows. They could lose to South Florida as well.

I just hope we don't make the Duke QB into a superstar like we've done with every other QB this season. It's so hard to watch.

What have they got to lose playing bump & run. What they've been doing isn't working(playing off the ball)so go for broke. With our defensive line, getting no pressure, what does it matter. The Qb has all day to throw. Plain & simple this is the absolute worst defense, I've seen the U have. We're so bad the opposing punter, stays in the club-house.

I've been wondering where you were Mac-J.

I agree, I'd rather blitz the crap out of defenses and play bump and run with Telemaque and Armstrong in coverage making the opposing QB to make plays. Its one thing if we are up late and are trying not to give up a long score. But when we play way off their recievers any QB will look good if we are not getting pressure with the front 4. I say blitz the snot out of them and make the other QB make a perfect play. Besides our offense can score with anybody.

macjones, you don't know what you're talking about. The defense just doesn't have the athletes to be a good defensive unit. Mike Williams, who was a 2nd string CB at Wake Forest, is a starting CB at the U. That's why they can't play press coverage.

The player have to have the speed and skill to play defense. If you have 4.6 guy playing corner, he's going to be beat every time, no matter how much he's coached up.

What will happen is we will get two turnovers, but we are supposed to get these turnovers just like we were supposed to shut down GTechs triple option as we did the last three years. One thing that will be obvious is confidence, because we know how to play against Duke just like we knew how to play against GTech. If we don't then blame it on coaching.

When we do so well against Duke like we have in the past I just hope all the analyst don't come back jumping on how dominant this team can be like they did against GTech. If we could have done the same thing against KSU then I would have been like yes we can play confident. But the problem with the KSU game was no one accounted for the QB like they did for the GTech game. Someone always took a hit on the QB in the GTech game, and on the KSU game everyone was going for the pitch man and letting the QB run loose.

So, I expect us to be dominant against Duke and at the very least I expect us to win a close game, but no matter what this team should not get any superlatives for how well they play this Saturday. Save the superlatives for the FSU game. Just don't come out flat

By the way there's no such thing as bump and run. The DB only allowed one contact within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Another bump is a 5 yard penalty. Quit living in the 70's.

We are definitely behind the 8 ball, because we were not supposed to lose that game against UVA. I predicted we would go 8-4 this year, and I still hope we can win out to prove me right.

Everyone loves a winner and everyone hates mediocrity. I can handle it a lot better if we have a terrible season, but as a fan I hate having a roller coaster of a season. Let's finish this season on a high note... 8-4 baby

We beat ranked teams, but lose to unranked teams. I say we beat FSU. They have crap for a quarterback too. EJ is the weakest link for FSU and Reid may be a good return man, but he is a prototype of Brandon McGee. Reid is like, what?, 4'5. LOL. Put Reid on Streeter and Streeter will eat that dude. Bring on FSU. This is The U. Don't be scared of FSU. History has shown over and over that FSU is this and FSU is that this year, and we upset them for years, especially at their house. Screw them. Bring on Duke. We'll beat them too. I got my season seat, U got yours?


Michael - that's why they call it the bump and run and not the bump and keep bumping.

You're wrong bump and run technique was started by the corners for the KC Chiefs in the 60's and 70's. The technique was to bump the WR all the way through his route. that technique was outlawed in the late 90's.

I've see no improvement in the defense. I'm trying to reserve my comments and criticisms of the coaches until the end of next season but the defense needs to do more than make "relative" improvement. We didn't lose that many people from defense for this to happen. I know we lost some guys for the year (buchanan, forston, porter) but this is ridiculous. We didn't lose guys in the secondary for the year. Majority of them are back from last season's team minus brandon harris and demarcus van dyke. I truly wish that brandon didn't leave early but what can we do? It was his decision in the end. He was the leader of our secondary with the most natural talent to back it up. Hopefully Kacy Rogers, Finnie, Crawford, Armbrister, and Payne will show up next season. I like that Finnie comes to work every time he hits the field. Crawford is redshirted and so is Payne. Armbrister isn't redshirted so I don't know why he hasn't had a chance to get in. Maybe he's not the badass that everyone claimed he was out of high school being labeled as an athlete. We'll just have to wait and see. Rayray and Tele better get their act together or they'll see limited time next year. Plus there's tyrone cornelius who was converted from LB to safety and getting praises from Golden. The defense needs to get together and really look everything over. Do whatever it takes to get some rhythm. If they don't then we'll have another fiasco with dukey like we did with UVA. UVA shouldn't even be on the field with us and neither should dukey. Dammit I'm pissed about that virginia game, it made me sick to my stomach. I can somewhat accept what happened with mary land with all of the suspensions. I mean we were missing 5 starters on defense alone plus our QB and fastest receiver. That's 8 players whom 7 were starters. But that's 2 games that we could have won and the VT game was because of a BS defensive mess up. This so called "freelancing" or whatever excuse the D is talking about has to stop. Ownership must start. I mean, Chase Ford is an absolute bust and he's man enough to accept his mistakes. Man up and show up. That's all I'm asking and I don't think that's much to ask. I think a lot of people here can agree with me on that. Sean needs to take complete control and get us riled up. He needs to stand up as a leader and I just haven't seen it. I thought I saw it starting to happen in the spring game but not after that.

Hopefully Coach D will have the DB's play man on man and we wear them down.

My mistake, didn't know the history of the term, today's it's synonymous with just jamming a WR at the line.

Eucolypyus Michael has taken you to school on the bump and run.

Machines and eucodimus the d coach is not the problem as golden and others have said. Three weeks ago only 5% of the d was in. Now we here about highlite players and inter mural type players. Figure it out, the players are not there this year. Wrong culture and golden needs his thinking players in there.

Its not how fast you are at corner its technique Mcgee runs a 4.2 but his technique makes him look like he runs a 4.8 and thats why he is beat nearly all the time look at his foot work and it will show he needs work.

CANETILLIDIE....DH If we play man to man with these corners with are poor technique you will wish we played off coverage more.

Miami's D in the past and not so distant past typically was aggressive, blitzing and man to man coverage. That ended 3 yrs ago. Don't know why despite the fact that Shannon was HC and he was always a defense guy. He allowed it to happen. Same now. How is itt hat Donofrio continues to lpay the dbs 10-15 yds off? Its just so easy for QBs now to make that pitch and catch. Its like 7-7! 4 yd here 4 yards there. Its like taking candy from a baby!

Hey listen I'm not a coach but I know football and all I can say is that Donofrio has not adjusted well in-game. Has not prepared well for teams while opposing OC HAVE prepared well against him (Maryland, UVa anyone?), and he continues to play the same Defensive scheme day in day out. He is predictable and unimaginative. An example of a defenive genius is Al Groh, who prepared Ga Tech and adjusted his defense in order to handle Sammy Watkins and the high powered Clemson offense.

I say Golden needs toserilously look at whether his Temple budddy os doing the job. I mean how much longer can this go on?

For anyone who believes that the CANES' can go into Tallahassee and take the Noles'compare last nights game to last thursdays;Especially on the defensive side of the ball, Noles' made plays all over the field, didn't blow assignments, no stupid penalties, etc; Noles'destroyed an inferior team like good teams are supposed to. As a CANES'fan the best we can hope for is 7-5 in Golden's first season...

"Hey listen I'm not a coach but I know football and all I can say is that Donofrio has not adjusted well in-game."

I agree with this. His pregame preparation has been good (see how he moved Spence to MLB for GT to take advantage of his ability to move to the play, and how he HAS gotten better play from the defense overall), but once a weakness is spotted ingame (Maryland bubble screen, Virginia left sweep), the opposing team just ran that play over and over, while Coach D didn't change his defense to COMPENSATE. He might be good at a game like chess where you have all day to plan for the next move, but he has not shown that he can adjust on short notice to new situations.

I hope it is just a matter of him settling in, since his Temple defense improved each year. Not saying he will, just hoping he will.

The D-Coordinator isn't the problem, it's the lack of toughness on defense. Ray Ray, Telemaque, and McGee are lost. Our defensive isn't getting a push and Spence and Perryman are the only ones making plays.

I agree with those who say we should blitz more. I think it's a matter of defensive philisophy, personally I enjoy watching active, blitzing defenses.

I think AG is a great politician and says the right tings to the press but I am not convinced that he is a good football coach for a major program. He has one good win againt GT who had a lot of turnovers and mental errors. Miami lost to Maryland, Kansas and Virginia. Anyone could see that the Kansas QB was only a runner and the defense did not adjust.

Now after 8 games AG says his players are lazy and he will replace them. Maiami has not played well under Al and Mark. Now Al blames this on his players.

If Al Golden does not fire his agent then it tells you all you need to know about Al and his commitment to UM.

Penn State is not going to hire AG and AG knows that there is a coach in waiting.

I do not thnk any major program would offer AG $10,000,000 after his performance thus far at Miami.

I think that if Al and Mark left Miami could easily replace them with a experienced coaches who would be deidicated to a winning program.
It is obvious that the NCAA sanctions will not be severe and the job as head football coach at UM is quite an attractive position for a head coach with experience coaching in a big time program.

Kirby Holcutt was a joke as an AD and the business side of the Athletic Department was never handled well during his stay at UM. I hope the new AD
has a better handle on the business side of the department and that he can evaluate coaches.

If AG wants to leave I say "so long."
I think AG know realizes that he is not going to get a better job until he proves he can build a winning program at UM and that will take a few years if AG has the skills necessary to make this happen. At this point AG has proven nothing except that he is an exceptional politician.

CANETILLIDIE....DH If we play man to man with these corners with are poor technique you will wish we played off coverage more.

Posted by: canes | November 03, 2011 at 08:24 PM


Last season we played with more pressure and were 5th in the nation in pass defense and now we're 102nd. Even though we don't have BHarris or Van Dyke this shouldn't have happened this way. Chambers and McGee have been here long enough and just haven't gotten it plain and simple. Obviously playing with cushion isn't helping us in any way shape or form so we have to do something else. What do you recommend? I just want our boys to come ready to play and I'm just not seeing that. I want randy's guys gone. I'm not gonna criticize our coaches until next season but it hurts me to see what we're putting on the field. Mary land I can understand, KState..ok they've done really well for themselves this season, VT got lucky, that's it. Now UVA???? Really UVA a team that we should be looking at as if they were Bethune Cookman? I can't understand that. I really can't. I couldn't last year and I can't now. If the players don't believe then they shouldn't leave the locker room. Come to play or hang it up and go home.

Sabatuers, that's what you have on defense, a pure Canes Mutiny. Guys freelancing, game after game, it's quite obivious they have no regard for DeNo, and keep doing the same stupid things and getting away with it because who' left to take their spot. We have a pile of mostly retreads at TE. Our DT's are weak and undersized, and aside from Chicklo, where have our veteran DE's gone(Robinson, Smith & Vernon). We had exactly One CB who stepped on the field last year, in McGee, nobody else played, that's on your boy Randy, for not developing players to take over the DB spots. The days of beating everyone with undersized players & speed are over with.Take a look at Bama's LB's they average about 6'2 & 250. we have 6'o 220 lbs. Plain and simple we are just plain getting out physicalled.

I agree with you herbieibis.

candy randy left us in shambles. I gave him the benefit out the doubt in the beginning because coker didn't leave anything in the cupboard but this just as bad. Instead of having nothing to work with, we have kinda something that doesn't' know what the hell they're doing because they still think they're in high school.

Looking at the roster we have some good guys that have been waiting in the ranks for time on the field behind randy's guys. We'll just have to wait and see.


But I still believe.

Go Canes!

I've been wondering where you were Mac-J.

Posted by: herbieibis | November 03, 2011 at 05:14 PM

Thanks for your response HERBIEIBIS.

Like CANECHIC and MANY, MANY, MANY OTHERS, I've been CHIT-CANNED by that dork SOUP over at a rival Cane pigskin blog.

Heck, that DORK soup runs HIS blog like a bloody TYRANT. Matter of fact, one of the feline's he BANNED, decide to run her own Miami college sports blog. Go bloody figure.


Miami Hurricanes 31

Dukie Vitale 21

The D-Coordinator isn't the problem, it's the lack of toughness on defense. Ray Ray, Telemaque, and McGee are lost.

Posted by: Canesjunkie | November 04, 2011 at 09:50 AM

Your JOKING, right. Get the fuc! outta' here.

What Miami games have you been watching this season. That's IF you seen a four or maybe five games in their entirety.

No sir C.J., D' Onofrio has been MOLESTED by opposing O-coordinators this season. Enter Maryland, which happens to be one of the worst squads in the conference, and Virginia.

Now, Miami's D-coordinator gets a short, short short lease on the Turtle game because of AWOL players and injures. Still, an above average D-coordinator would've probably won that game. Eh.

Bottom line is D' Onofrio ain't accoustumed to B.C.S. type of offensives. But whom could blame him when he went up against the MIGHTY, MIGHTY teams of the Mid-Am conference.


Any of these guys. Throw everything and the kitchen sink at them if Golden leaves. I truly doubt that he'll leave before his contract is up but I wouldn't blame him because he wasn't informed before he got here.

What did you get banned for?

Retreads 31
Puke 27

Fire shalalalala now.

Machines which blog??

Did it enter your mind it's the players?? You see a few weeks ago we learned only 5% of the d was in. Players could not follow the plays.

I think AG know realizes that he is not going to get a better job until he proves he can build a winning program at UM and that will take a few years if AG has the skills necessary to make this happen.

Las Vegasman: You are exactly right. While we all agree, Al is a breath of fresh air over RS, and J12 and the offense has improved. Al has not taken the team to the next level and the Dfence has regressed. He gets a pass this year at 7-5 (Randy's record), but less than that or no improvement next year, then his coaching and his staff could be a concern. I take Mario as the coach, but don't disount Jedd Fisch as OC or HC, for the sake of continuity if AG does leave for Penn State.

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