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Perryman eager to fill in for Buchanan, help Canes plug leaky run defense

CORAL GABLES -- The Miami Hurricanes lost one of their veteran leaders at linebacker when Ramon Buchanan went down with a season-ending right knee injury last Saturday.

Denzel Perryman At the end of this season, UM will lose another when Sean Spence graduates and heads off to the NFL. The future? Denzel Perryman plans to be a big part of that.

The 6-foot, 217-pound freshman from Coral Gables High will not get his first college start Saturday at Virginia Tech. Jordan Futch told us Tuesday he'll replace Buchanan in the starting lineup at strongside linebacker. But Perryman, currently seventh on the team with 16 tackles, knows he'll be counted on to play in the rotation plenty in Blacksburg as UM tries to figure out ways to plug its leaky run defense.

"Coach has kind of been talking to me about it. Telling me to be ready [to play more]," Perryman said. "When I first came in, I didn't have any clue. Sean Spence, Ramon Buchanan, all the older guys, kind of helped me, sat down with me after practice, went over the playbook with me.

"Consistency wise, day by day I get better. I've still messed up on a couple things that I need to work on. But I'll be alright."

On Monday, Golden said Perryman's biggest issue has been a lack of consistency. "Obviously he was focused Saturday," Golden said of Perryman, who had a career-high seven tackles against Bethune-Cookman. "He prepared well, showed up on special teams and on first and second down. He had a couple of shots on the nickel. [But] consistency is the biggest thing there."

On the team's depth chart, Perryman is listed as the backup to Spence at weakside linebacker. But, he said, "depending on the calls I'll line up on the strong side." Sophomore Kelvin Cain, who had a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown versus Bethune-Cookman on a pass that was deflected right into his hands, is listed as the backup at strongside linebacker and will also play in the rotation.

No matter who is in there the Hurricanes (2-2) have to figure out a way to play better run defense. After giving up 219 yards to the Wildcats last Saturday, UM's run defense fell from 99th to 105th nationally (202.25 yards per game).

"I think it's pretty much just missed tackles," Perryman said of UM's troubles. "We get there, get in position and just have to wrap up. [Defensive coordinator Mark] D'Onofrio calls a great defense. Everybody has to do their job, fill gaps."

Virginia Tech, second in the country in run defense, own the ACC's second best run offense behind Georgia Tech at a 196-yard per game clip. Tailback David Wilson ranks seventh nationally with 127.80 yards per game.

"I watched film yesterday with Sean Spence. We're pretty much going to have wrap up and run our feet," Perryman said. "He's a tough runner. He keeps his feet moving. We have to put a hat on him every play."

While Perryman will split time at linebacker, he'll continue to be counted on heavily on special teams. After four games, he is tied with Andrew Swasey for the team lead in special teams tackles with four. Considering Perryman only punted and kicked off in high school (he started at linebacker since his freshman year), he's really turned out to be a pleasant surprise on a unit he never had much experience with.

"When they first put me on [special teams], I was kind of nervous about it," Perryman said. "It was college. Big leagues. Everything was fast. I wasn't used to it. Doing it in practice with scouts giving me a good look got me ready. I've kind of a got a habit of just running down there fast and making sure nobody hits me until I get to the ball."