What you need to know ...
Only two starters return from last year's solid D with the
biggest concern at linebacker where finding starters is a big
enough problem without worrying about reserves. The secondary
should be fine with great looking prospects like CB Frank Wiwo
and SS Robbie Wilson ready to play more prominent roles, and
getting to the quarterback won't be a problem for the line. With
the problems at linebacker and the smallish tackles (other than
306-pound Otto Linwood), stopping the run will be the primary
problem early on.
Tackles: Joey Card, 67
Craig Mester, 5.5
Interceptions: Frank Wiwo, 4
Star of the defense: Senior FS Joey Card
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
MLBs Joe Hudson and Brad Goatley
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore SS Robbie Wilson
Best pro prospect: Junior DT Otto Linwood
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Card, 2) DE Craig
Mester, 3) Linwood
Strength of the defense: Pass rush
Weakness of the defense:
Even with the return of only one starter and hurt by the
loss of star end Marcus Johnson, getting to the quarterback won't be an
issue with speed and athleticism on the outside and the potential for a
fantastic rotation led by veteran Craig Mester and top pass rushers Joe
Coniglio and Tranaine Sills. Run defense could be another story with
only one tackle-sized tackle, Otto Linwood, and a bunch of quick,
undersized, inexperienced players looking to find a spot in the middle.
The key to the unit: Find tackles who can play alongside Otto
Defensive Line Rating: 5.5
- DE Joe Coniglio, Soph. - 14 tackles, 4 sacks, 8 TFL, 3
The former linebacker didn't do much against the run last season even
though he showed tremendous upside as a pass rusher with four sacks in a
part-time role. He's only 233 pounds, but he's quick off the ball and
should be a terror in the backfield.
- DT Otto Linwood, Jr. - 13 tackles, 3 sacks, 4.5 TFL
As the only 300-pounder on the line, 306 to be exact, Linwood has to be
the main presence in the middle. He'll get the start on the left side
where he'll be asked to be the anchor of the run defense. While he's not
all that quick, he's not bad at getting into the backfield.
- DT Seth Painter, Sr. - 18 tackles, 2 TFL
At only 254 pounds, Painter is used for his quickness at right tackle.
He's a former defensive end who was a key reserve last season, and now
he'll rotate with Kevin Samy to stay fresh on the inside.
- DE Craig Mester, Jr. - 27 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 7.5 TFL
Mester is the line's only returning starter and has to play a huge role
this season. He's a good pass rusher with excellent speed and a
good-sized 6-5, 243-pound frame to try to throw over.
- DE Tranaine Sills, Jr.
Injuries have been an issue for Sills, but his talent isn't a question
as the team's best pure pass rusher. At 254 pounds, he's a bigger option
than Joe Coniglio at left end.
- DE Travis Craven, RFr.
An interesting prospect, Craven is only 220 pounds, but he's 6-4 and a
blur getting into the backfield. He knows how to get to the quarterback
and was a strong scout teamer last season. Now he'll combine with Craig
Mester on the right side.
- DT Ben Huddle, Soph. - 2 tackles
At 265 pounds, Huddle is one of the team's biggest tackles. He'll play
behind Otto Linwood on the left side, but he might see time on the right
to beef up the run defense.
If you want to play linebacker, Miami will
give you a shot. The senior dominated corps of last year is gone meaning
all the spots are up for grabs with walk-ons sure to play a key role.
Dontae Wright will be a player on the outside, but the other outside
spot and the middle are going to be major concerns up until the opener.
Forget about depth, this group has to find starters.
The key to the unit: Quickly find out who can stop
the run and quickly develop enough players for a decent rotation.
Linebacker Rating: 4.5
- Dontae Wright, Sr. - 21 tackles, 1 TFL
A good reserve last year on the outside, the 6-3, 222-pound senior is
expected to be one of the new stars of the D. He bulked up and doesn't
look like a glorified safety, yet still has to be as athletic as he was
- Joe Hudson, Soph. - 12 tackles
Hudson can play any of the linebacking spots, but he appears destined to
take over in the middle. He sat out last year when the linebacking corps
was full, but now he'll be thrown into the starting role. He's not all
that big and he's not all that fast, but he's a player.
- Clayton Mullins, Jr. - 4 tackles
Mullins was banged up last year and didn't do much, but now he'll be one
of the key starters on the outside. He hit the weights over the last
year going from a safety sized 206 pounds to 219.
- Brad Goatley, Soph. - 3 tackles
While Joel Hudson is listed as the starter in the middle, don't be
shocked if Goatley quickly takes over. He looked like he'd be a strong
contributor last season before getting knocked out with an injury, and
now he counts as the most experienced backup at linebacker the RedHawks
- Chris Shula, Soph. - 1 tackle
Mostly a special teamer, the 5-11, 216-pounder will push for time on the
outside behind Clayton Mullins.
The secondary wasn't nearly as good as it should've been
last year, and it won't fall off the map like it might be expected to
this season. Tall Frank Wiwo will grow into an excellent cover-corner,
while strong safety Robbie Wilson is a great looking prospect. The
return of strong safety Joey Card at free safety will be a big help.
Considering the secondary needs to replace three starters, the depth
isn't all that bad, especially at corner.
The key to the unit: Get steady play from the corners
and hope for Robbie Wilson and Sean Kavanaugh to come through at strong
Secondary Rating: 6
- CB Frank Wiwo, Sr. - 12 tackles, 2 TFL, 4 INT, 5 broken
At 6-3, Wiwo is a great sized corner who has a nose for the ball leading
the team in interceptions last year. He's only 179 pounds but he can
pop. Even though he was a nickel back last year, he should shine in the
role of full-time coverman and should ease the loss of Darrell Hunter.
- FS Joey Card, Sr. - 67 tackles, 1 sack, 4 TFL, 3 INT, 3 broken
One of only two returning starters on defense. Card has to be a leader
and top playmaker yet again. He finished second on the team in tackles
last year and turned out to be fantastic in pass coverage. He's not all
that huge at only 6-0 and 198 pounds, but he doesn't make mistakes. It's
vital that he stays healthy.
- SS Robbie Wilson, Soph. - 9 tackles, 1 interception
Wilson has all the potential to be the team's best defensive back with
good size at 209 pounds and some of the best wheels on the team. He's
more than fast enough to be a top corner, but his future is at safety
where he should be a mainstay for the next three years.
- CB Bryan Roland, Soph. - 10 tackles
Mostly a special teamer so far, Roland will try to hold down one of the
starting corner jobs. Can he handle himself on defense? He came to Miami
after being a star high school running back, and he ha to prove he can
hold up for a full season.
- CB Jarrid Gaines, Jr.
Gaines has to be in the cornerback mix with his sub-4.4 speed. He
redshirted last year and has a lot of traffic to contend with on the
depth chart, but he should be a regular on one side battling with Bryan
- FS Tersee Nande, Jr.
The former wide receiver is still trying to find his way at defensive
back. He's the biggest safety on the team at 6-2 and 210 pounds, and
speed isn't an issue. He has to be a good backup behind Joey Card.
- SS Sean Kavanaugh, Soph. - 6 tackles, 1 broken up pass. 1
Kavanaugh saw enough time as a true freshman to be considered a veteran
defender behind Robbie Wilson. He's a good, fluid athlete who can hit..
If Nathan Parseghian can be a reliable placekicker,
special teams will be one of Miami's strengths. Jacob Richardson needs
to boost up his average, but that'll come in time. Ryne Robinson is one
of the nation's best punt returners who could finish his career as the
best in college football history yardage-wise. Speedy Sean McVay is a
dangerous kickoff returner.
The key to the unit: Hope for steady placekicking and
get better in punt coverage.
Special Teams Rating: 8
- PK Nathan Parseghian, Soph.
Parseghian spent all of last season working on his range and should be a
decent replacement for All-MAC PK Todd Soderquist. Can he hit 18 of 21
inside of the 40 like Soderquist did?
- P Jacob Richardson, Soph. - 46 punts, 1,766 yards, 38.4
average, 10 inside the 20
Richardson has to up his net. He has a good leg and even
showed a little bit of accuracy in his freshman year, but he only
averaged 38.4 yards per kick. He has the potential to be an All-MAC
performer with a little more time.