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Youthful Canes defense at the midway point of a historically bad season

If you've been thinking this might be the worst Hurricanes defense of all time after just six games -- your eyes are not deceiving you. 

A look at how the 2012 Canes rank among the worst UM defenses of all timeAt the midway point of the 2012 campaign, the Canes are on pace to shatter the school record book for the worst statistical season ever on defense.

They've already given up more points (208) than Larry Coker's team did in his final season as head coach in 2006 (201 points) and they are on pace to give up 416 in total -- 102 more points than UM did in 1984 under Jimmy Johnson and 2008 under Randy Shannon (tied for the current worst all time).

Yards? Take your pick, rushing or receiving. Both records appear as though they will go down easily.

The 1,504 rushing yards given up already are nearly double of what the 1989 national championship team allowed (1,520, 2nd fewest all-time), and should easily surpass what the 1944 Canes allowed (2,492 yards, the current worst) by the time UM is on its way out of Virginia on Nov. 10.

The record for most passing yards allowed -- 2,695 in 2009 -- should end up going down around the same time at Virginia. These Canes are on pace to give up 3,112 yards through the air in all. That's 1.7 miles.

Total yards? Miami has already surrendered 3,060. These Canes should easily crush the record of 4,369 allowed during the 1997 season. Same with first downs. UM's given up 158 of those in six games. The current record is 238 set by the 1997 squad.

Sacks? This UM team is on pace to end up with the fewest in that category too. They've got seven and would finish with 14 -- two fewer than the 1984 team which has the current low of 16 sacks.

Now, before you run down to Coral Gables with pitch forks and ask Al Golden to hand over his best friend -- defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio -- take a deep breath. This is also one of the youngest defenses in the country. I know what you're thinking: No excuses (that's Miami's mantra right?)

Well, for all the armchair defensive coordinators out there complaining D'Onofrio doesn't blitz enough and there is too much cushion in pass coverage (I agree), ask yourself if anyone out there could honestly do a better job with 19 first or second-year players (that would be true freshmen, redshirt freshman or true freshman) on the Canes' two-deep.

Eight of those young guys -- Anthony Chickillo, Corey King, Olsen Pierre, Eddie Johnson, Denzel Perryman, Gionni Paul, Ladarius Gunter and Deon Bush -- are all slated to start against North Carolina Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.

I'm not saying there isn't some talent to work with here or that D'Onofrio deserves a free pass from criticism. But no Canes defensive coordinator in the last five seasons has had to work with so much youth (trust me, I looked it up).

That probably goes for any Canes defensive coordinator since UM started winning national titles.

I'm pretty sure you remember when UM was dominant prior to this sour stretch of football -- sophomores freshmen and redshirt freshmen weren't being counted on to play a high number of snaps. Right now, eight 1st or 2nd year players are starters and 19 of them total are among the 29 players in the two deep. Those are players who all arrived in 2011 or later.

Five-year look


Last year, D'Onofrio only had nine players in his two deep of 23 who were 1st or 2nd year players. Only three -- Perryman, Kelvin Cain and Chickillo -- started UM's final regular season game against Boston College.

In 2010, there were only six 1st or 2nd year players in UM's two-deep of 24. Defensive end Olivier Vernon was the only starter in that group.

In 2009, there were 12 1st or 2nd year players in UM's two deep rotation of 26. Four were starters in the bowl game: Vaughn Telemaque, Brandon Harris, Sean Spence and Marcus Robinson. That defense gave up the most passing yards ever in school history.

In 2008, there were also 12 1st or 2nd year players in UM's two deep rotation of 24. Five were starters in the bowl game: JoJo Nicolas, Brandon Harris, Spense, Robinson and Steven Welsey. That 2008 team gave up 314 points -- tied for the most points allowed in Canes history.

I took a look at every depth chart in the ACC as well to see how UM stacks up in terms of youth. Miami is pretty much in a league of its own.

The closest ACC teams with as much youth on defense as these Canes: 

> Clemson has nine players in their 24-man two-deep on defense who are 1st or 2nd year players. Five of them are starters -- all in the front seven. The Tigers by the way rank 71st in scoring defense (27.33 ppg), 96th in total defense (445 ypg) and 102 in rush defense (202.67 ypg) and sacks.

> Boston College has 12 players in their 22-man two-deep on defense who are 1st or 2nd year players. Four are starters. The Eagles rank 82nd in scoring defense (29.0 ppg), 52nd in total defense (416.6 ypg), 117th in rushing defense (259.0 ypg), 35th in pass efficiency defense (115.06), 110th in sacks and have forced 10 turnovers (t-7th in ACC).

> Florida State has 13 of its 26 players listed on the two deep who are 1st or 2nd year players. But only one of them is a starter -- cornerback Nick Waisome. Virginia has 13 1st or 2nd year players on its 26-man two-deep. Three are starters. North Carolina has 14 of 24 players in its two-deep that are 1st or 2nd year players. Only two are starters, both in the secondary.


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Just to illustrate UM's problems with youth and depth, consider this. FSU recruited arguably the 2 best defensive linemen in high school football last year (Goldman, DT and Edwards, DE. To my knowledge, neither one of these consensus great players has seen the field this year. UM recruited several D- Lineman last year that were not ranked remotely close to these 2 players, and many of them are being asked to play a heck of a lot. UM has a long way to go.

NO, no free passes.......

I am fine with youth mistakes, penalties, late hits....stuff you expect due to inexperience.

I am NOT fine with zero adjustments through a game. How about we try to make a team one dimensional....JUST TRY!?!? Maybe stack the box and make a team beat us through the air? Maybe disguise a blitz or two? Maybe do ANYTHING?

In an obvious running situation, MAYBE PLAY THE RUN? Put down the pizza Manny and write a better piece of journalism....PLEASE. Maybe do some kind of investigating on how the NCAA is manipulating souls to testify against us? Maybe ask the question of why this investigation is taking so long. Maybe for once in your life, support UM and go after the hypocritical NCAA. Maybe cut Susan's hair, my god that style was early 80's and is never coming back!

Great post. Mario Edwards son is a 310 de ends and the dt us 30 pounds over them. Just like a ugga good looking dog but to much fat around their heart. Maybe one of our dline man will show up this week

The Rabblerouser is paying attention. Great work here. One question Manny. Why was this not run in the main section earlier today? Nice job!

Good article.
My answer is yes. Someone else can do better.

Also you are picking and choosing stats that support your freshman theory.
In 2009 they might have given up the most passing yards...but they were one of the best in the country in sacks and tackles for loss.
The point is that we are giving it up in every direction...points...pass...run...
Make them one dimensional...or at least try.
I mean come on...there is no way at all that an adjustment would make this defense any worse.
Thats what bothers me the most...why not try something else...ever.
Hes in over his head. As simple as that.
I will be in the front row in endzone screaming for our boys and trying to get donofrios attention so i can give him the finger.
Beat UNC!

Great article Manny. I love articles based on objective facts. Keep it up!

Age has very little to do with it Manny... the problem is the system.

We are going to always give up a lot of yards b/c D'onofrio believes that "yards allowed is an irrelevant statistic"

I wonder if Nick Saban believes that as well.... SMH.

D'onofrio never made a single defensive adjustment in the Notre Dame game to stop the run. I'm not talking about blitzing either.... he just let Notre Dame run up and down the field all day w/o trying to load the box to stop it. He could've tried 8 or 10 in the box but he didn't.... just like you would expect the WORST DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR OF ALL TIME TO DO.

The problem is this defense is playing like this article is a foregone conclusion. They're conceding EVERYTHING. "Yeah we get that we can't shut your offense down so let's roll out the red carpet and wait for our offense to get the ball back." That's what's been going on. I don't doubt that they don't have the depth and experience to compete but you have to make the other team beat you.

I would rather see these kids get beat in man coverage forcing the QB to throw a decent ball and the receiver to make a decent catch. What offenses are facing against us is the easiest thing they've seen since fall practice.

And I guarantee you your gonna see the youth problem get a helluva lot worse in the second half of the season bc of injuries when these kids can't get off the field for more than 20 minutes/game. Its also destroying their confidence. No one's ever in position to make big plays.

You do that and I bet you'll be amazed at what these 'kids' will show you.

What is seriously lacking in this article is that this was a coaching decision to play only the youngsters. Have these coaches ever seen "We are Marshall" when a college was forced to play only freshmen because they had no choice? This is different. These coaches sat Luther Robinson for five games, switched Jeremy Lewis from DL to OL where he doesn't play even though he was a stud DL out of PB County. Kelvin Cain is an experienced player yet rarely sees the field.

What the article also ignores is the scheme change. For 27 years, Miami plays an attacking 4-3 scheme where you don't man up against the OL, you shoot gaps and force the flow of the offensive a certain way and then ask your linebackers to react. Asking freshman to man up against senior offensive linemen is a joke. Asking an 18 year old man to line straight up and beat a 22 year old who has 4 years of conditioning, nutrition, and weight training is a system designed to fail.

In the past UM players have played as rookies and succeeded. But they did that because the system required them to shoot the gaps, execute a specific task, and allowed the linebackers and safeties to do certain things. It didn't rely entirely on 18 year olds to beat 22 year olds week in or week out, or in the case of this scheme, in any week. Yeah, you can buy the slop Golden or 'No are cooking or you can blame the scheme. I think the answer is obvious, the scheme stinks, it is not UM football, and either one or the other, or both, needs to be out of here.

Just keep winning baby, that all we need.

as sorry as the hurricanes are right now THEY WILL WIN, my team may be FSU but i support every team in the state of FL, life is always better when the TOP 3 programs in FL are winning :)

I hope you are serious FSU. I will say that I agree, minus UF if if course.

@FSU & Mcanes -- I support three teams.. the []_[] every game, FSU every game but one and WHOEVER IS PLAYING THE GATORS

i agree with fsu, and mcanes, to an extent. i'm born and raised here in miami, and the miami teams will always be number one in my heart. but i always cheer for any florida team over their opponent, any sport any league.

of course, i take the canes over every opponent, so i have to go against fsu once a year, and even the gators when they play the canes.

a lot of my friends don't understand, that concept, but that's the way i roll...

Other than Alabama and a few other teams, defenses are getting crushed by the spread and no-huddle offenses. 12 of the 14 NCAA ALL-TIME offensive statistical records have been broken in the last 5 years. Texas giving up almost 600 yards against OSU? WVU with 10 TDs in a game? Yes we need to make adjustments on the D scheme, but the name of the game now is to outscore your opponent.

If you gotta pick something to give up, you give up the pass. I agree that when nothing is working in your base defense then do whatever it takes to stop the other team from being able run. It simple. You may not be able to dominate every team in every facet but even famu should be able to stack 8 in the box and limit your yards per carry to 2-3 yards and force passing situations that you can prepare for. When you defense wins first down you should be able to get some teams off teh field. With this team we can win first and second down and then we'll turn around and lose third down big. It may be time to call out MD.

First, golden and his DC FAILED last year to recruit JUNIOR COLLEGE big linemen to step in as JUNIORS or SENIORS. They only care about building their own team with young impressionable, adoring players from high school instead of winning this year. The coaches have conceded wins this year and whined about young players, inexperienced, immature, sanctions, blaming everyone but themselves.

Second, it is the coaches and their prevent defense which is losing the games and yardage this year, NOT the players. The Cane players have ALL played GREAT except for dorsett's dropped balls and Wieclaws missed field goals. The offense has won four games that the coaching staff tried to lose with their prevent defense.

I will say it again because the coaches and some fans are too stupid to understand. A 3 down lineman defense can NOT stop a run based on simple PHYSICS. The other team has six blockers running over 3 Cane defensive linemen and pushing them out of the way for the other running back. PHYSICS. Physics does not care whether our defensive linemen are freshmen or seniors. All physics cares about is numbers, our 3 guys up against 6 blockers.

Next, with our LBs five yards off the LOS, again PHYSICS says the other offense will have MOMENTUM of pushing out of the way our defensive guys until enough LBs get into the fray. MOMENTUM IS PHYSICS. F = M X A (offense) versus M X A (defense) Until stupid golden and stupid DC get 4 defensive linemen plus two big middle LBs, they will not be able to stop the 6 offensive blockers plus the running back for short yardage. Yes, math and physics are simple if you understand them.

If they do not understand math, the stupid coaching staff will keep making Miami look like chumps and blaming the kids and blaming sanctions, waaaa, waaaa, waaa.

As far as zone versus man to man pass defense, again PHYSICS controls, no pass rush (ie, 3 Canes trying to get through 6 blockers) means the other QB has all day to find his receivers and hit them sitting in open spaces. With 4 down linemen and LBs up close, the QB must get rid of the ball within 3 seconds to an offensive WR who is tightly covered or be sacked.
If the other QB throws to a tightly covered receiver, two out the three results are bad, ie, incomplete, interception or completion.

Yes, math and physics really are that simple.
CaneFan'72, Registered Florida Professional Engineer

The Cane DEs must be going across the line off the outside shoulder of the offensive tight end or offensive tackle. The Cane DE must go across the LOS two yards in order to stop the end run and trail the play if it goes away from him in order to stop a reverse or the QB trying to escape the pocket. Cane LBs must move to within 2-3 yards of the LOS and attack the run by filling in the gap or taking the blocker head on to clog up the LOS. To sit back 5 yards and wait for the blockers and running back to come to our LBs is nuts and explains why other teams are running over the Canes and running up huge yardage.

Also by Cane LBs hitting the offensive blockers and RB quickly, they do not have time to build up momentum, nor does a running back have time and space to do quick moves and broken field running.

Insanity is golden and the Dc doing the same thing game after game and expecting different results. How about trying my suggested formations and strategy for one game. It has worked in the past such as when Miami tied up BC with four down Def lineman and a blitzer and Miami intercepted a pass and tied up that game right before the half.

the DC is horrible- teams are rolling up yardarge and points just like Maryland did last year they see our defense playing back and run the same plays over and over and over- usually with good results. GaTech got rid of their DC ie Al Grogh this week we should do the same- Watch today- a pass to the rt flat will succeed for the opposition 5-6 times with a gain of 5-7 yrds- The defender just plays too ddp against the wide receiver
just oinion

Funny, the Cardinals, Ravens, Cowboys, Packers, Texans, Chiefs, Colts, Jets, Steelers, Chargers, 49ers, and Redskins are all currently defying CaneFan'72's "laws of physics".

Many with great results.

If we outscore them we win. Im not happy with the D either ,but noone here is looking at the positive side of the team. Lot of posers on here acting like fans. If the O clicks we win....
GO CANES.....GO O......WE ONLY NEED A LITTLE D. Just see west virginia.....

Go Canes!!!!!

We beat them 10-3 and shut them down!!!!

Just shut down the run and keep scoring points. Big game for us.

Eudo, the way the pros run their 3-4 is quite different from golden's moron way of doing it. golden and the DC are running a soft, prevent (the win) defense.

The pros move up LBs close to the ends of the line, blitz which essentially makes the pro 3-4 a FIVE man defensive line. The LBs are close to fill the gaps on a run. The pros play man to man. If they play zone on passing plays, the offensive QB will have all day to complete passes.

BTW, there are a lot of high scoring games in the pros and among colleges these days. But the successful teams like U Florida beating LSU 14-6 have good defenses and do not need to try to outscore the other team by putting 40 or 50 points on the scoreboard. Like Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

IF, just supposin, IFFFF KSU and ND smack the dog poop out of golden and his DC with 52 and 40 points, doncha think (I guess not) they just might be doing something terribly, horribly wrong on defense???

Please do not tell me pro teams defy the laws of physics by playing way off the ball and way off of receivers cause they do not. If and when they do, the football gets moved down the field on them, too.

This year Penn State is playing with a depleted roster where 10 scholarship players transferred (due to NCAA sanctions). Yet their defense is respectable.

This year USC is playing with 75 players (also due to NCAA sanctions). Yet their defense is also respectable.

Both teams lost quite a few juniors and seniors. Why don't you ask them how they play defense?


Good analysis and fair points made.

D'Onofrio is trying to create a Penn State
type defense. That is what he played and that
is what he has coached. Same goes for Golden.

It negates potential advantages for Canes' style players in terms of speed that can be used in man coverage and LB blitzes to support a weak pass rush.

The coaches are rigid and fail to recognize the differences between Miami players and PSU type players.

Thus, by forcing kids to stay in position, play zone and lay back, players are not allowed to use their natural talents. The irony is that the "scheme" is not working!

Listen to what our kids say after games, "we didn't execute, out of position" and other such comments.

Not, "we didn't play hards, attack the opponent" etc.
D'Onofrio does not get it, and Golden probably doesn't either. This ain't the Big Ten.

The numbers don't lie.

Hoping for some kind of breakthrough today. Our
offense must have a stellar perfomance and beat a tough UNC defense.

GO CANES!!! Let's get on out to Sun Life for a good ballgame! Our guys do play hard and deserve our voices!

TY Manny....I have been keeping almost the same statistics since the BC game. We are projected to go over 6,000 yard this season vs last year at 4,319. When you look at the stats you see how really bad we are. The record is deceiving. Golden's record is EXACTLY the record of Randy Shannon at this EXACT time....we will see today what the condition of the team is....will they quit again like they did at KSU/ND? This is starting to fell like a power play with Golden/D'Onfrio.....they are both in this together it seems.....someting has to give...either Golden trys to find an escape clause in contract or he makes a change at DC....I still say 60/50 chance Golden stays at UM. Todays game to me is everything...it will either turn the team forward or will be the typical beginnning of a loosing season..it all happens at this excact time. well see.

Manny..what about the ND game. watch it again....basic sandlot plays against our defense...what does youth have to do with that? They simply got pushed around and gave up....The DC is unable to give these kids anything that says "we are confusing them....they cant figure us out"....when that happens the team will/can rise to the occasion. There is never a successful counter to the opponets offense...never. What is the real degree of talent we are giving up being soph/fresh? On the ND 2 deep depth chart you have 6 soph and 2 fresh on the rotation 73%....on defense you have 6 soph and 3 fresh on the rotation or 82%...what about that? their jr/sr didnt play the whole game....there were plenty of time our youth was against their youth....score 41-3 oh fyi...everett golson is a sophmore.

Jim and other fans,
I am wondering if Alumni should get a group together to plan to build a new OB with Miami Dade mostly to be the U home field and close to the U, but also make it available for FIU, FIT, FAU, and high schools in the area. It could also be used for college and pro soccer teams, perhaps men and women's college field hockey and lacrosse which are very popular in New England, perhaps even baseball if it had some of the stands movable. They could sell me my Cuban Expresso and Cuban sandwiches as well as different kinds of beer and wine on college game days. Parking free, grassy areas for tailgating close to the stadium, big TV screens. NO expensive boxes, just a TV announcers' box.

Tony made great points... Freshman have succeeded not only at Miami but in a lot of big name college football programs. You can't expect freshman to man up on grown offensive lineman... the worst part about it they are getting pushed around by average offensive lines.

The D-line is suppose to disrupt the line of scrimmage and either get to the ball or allow the linebackers to react and get to the ball.

All they are doing is getting washed up as soon as the ball is snapped then our linebackers are being taken out of the plays by our own d-lineman.

D'onofrio is a joke and he needs to be fired b/c his scheme is garbage. It may work for Miami(OH) but not Miami(FL)

The idea of a new stadium in sfla is a dream. It will never happen. Coral Gables will not go for it...the city is broke / miami..college tuition is very competitive today.....very difficult placement on campus.....tropical park would be a lateral move...um is at sunlife forever....the OB deal was the only way and they let that slip through their fingers.

It'a OVER! R.I.P UM. Coach D some sh%t!

ExcUses, excUses and more excUses. Not only will this go down as the worst cane defense ever but they are in the running for the worst in all of college football.
Another proud record to add to your resume along with Jacory and his most INTs thrown.
One of you fools said it, the only way you win is if you outscore your opponent and if you play a team with a defense, that means one outside the weak ACC, you will get crushed.
It's who you are, embrace it.
It will only get worse once sanctions hit.
It sUcks to be U.

It's more like your "guideline of physics" then?

No defending UM's defense this year but you don't know something D'Onofrio and Golden don't.

I'm headed to Joe Robbie to get in a couple hours of tailgating before this odd kickoff time.

Hope we can outscore these tarheels and keep it going in ACC play!

First of all these stats are garbage and you can manipulate stats in anyway you want to make your point.

Here's a stat: UM is 3-0 in the ACC. That's enough for now.

The youth issue is valid. So is the depth issue. So is the soft coverage issue.

But remember 1984. Post National championship and 3 years removed from another, and UM had a new coach-

Gave up a 31 point lead against Maryland
How many passing and total yards did Flutie and BC pile on UM on that rainy south florida day?

Then UM also played UCLA and had over 400 yds of offense piled on them for a loss. UM lost to FSU and Michigan that season as well.

My point is, unless you correct the problem (defensive scheme lack of adjust mnents in game), this will continue. But if UM offense gets going and is able to pull this one out and also beat VT, Duke, USF and Uva, we are looking at a 9-3 season, plus a trip to Charlotte.

everyone wants this defense to either be total run stopping and for the secondary to just sit back and take it easy because the pass rush will not let the QB pass, well its not gonna happen, its not!!!! yes everyone is calling for d'onofrios head but unfortunately there isn't much he can do, he has an inexperienced defense full of KIDS!!!! he still needs time to develop and to fix things and he cannot fix a defense full of freshmen and sophmores, yes it is painful to watch this defense, this defense seems like theyre standing on a mudpile, but it will take time. AL GOLDEN DID NOT INHERIT WHAT NICK SABAN DID AT ALABAMA NOR WHAT URBAN MEYER DID AT FLORIDA. IF YOU'RE A TRUE CANES FAN, GIVE THEM TIME!!!

go canessssssssssss

The 'Canes will win..

We have something to prove, and I am with you 5>3>2 the CARDIAC KIDS will get it done, and as I predicted we will end up with a 9-3 season...

The roller coaster continues... Let us ride it for what it is worth and cheer for every player laying it on the line..

It is great to be a HURRICANE.. GOOOOOOOOO CaneS

Go 'Canes Always

5>3>2> Good points, but U left out the conclusion: Get rid of DC and U solve most of everything. This D gives up 557 yards a game. Even If UM has an infusion of new players on D next year, the same "lack of" and "cluelessness" continues.

Offensively, UM can compete with anyone anywhere, just like 'ole times. I'm for UM bring back some old coaches and letting them get in the faces of new coaches.

Is there ANY college football program in WORSE shape than this one? Totally sucking with major sanctions about to destroy whatever's left of this rotting corpse. Just awful.

Manny Navarro is a shitbag.

bring back randy shannon.....its his offense anyway. Bring back larry coker....both have better records than this coaching bunch. No..there is not college program in worse shape than ours....will get worse with less scholarships via sanctions.....2015 is best guess for success.....go to beach and work on your tan....come back then...not worth the drive or money to park to live with the UM pain....

The struggles make sense. They are an EXTREMELY young team. And yes, some commenters have made a valid point in that former freshmen canes have been successful; however, a number of those freshmen canes were surrounded by experienced Juniors and Seniors. Remember, this is a team that has been getting progressively worse since the 02' loss to Ohio State. While frustrating, we all know that in college football, where there is no free agency or anything like that, it takes years to build a consistently successful program, i.e., a program that can be in the national conversation for a decade or more. I'm giving Golden time because I think he deserves it. He's proven he can build a program by building the perennial terrible Temple program. If he can build at Temple he can most certainly build at UM. I think we just have to be patient - something Miami fans admittedly aren't good at. The true barometer of Golden's recruiting, coaching, and development ability, will be seen in 3-4 years when these baby canes are men. That's where he'll have the chance to differentiate himself with Randy Shannon. Shannon was a great recruiter but clearly his staff had trouble developing. Hopefully we won't be saying the same about Golden.

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