The Miami Hurricanes’ defense has shown several flashes of elite play so far this season. The unit has been on the field more than most this year, as they rank No. 5 overall in snaps played on defense with 380 snaps.
The following players have been responsible for most of the great play on defense throughout the past five games. Here’s how I would rank them.
5 — Gilbert Frierson
Gilbert Frierson has been reliable all year long in coverage and in tackling situations. He’s second on the team in total tackles with 20 total tackles on the year. Frierson has been targeted 19 times in coverage this year and is yet to give up a touchdown. He has also broken up two passes.
The redshirt sophomore has been able to make so many plays behind the line of scrimmage despite being outmatched size wise in most situations when defending the run. He does this by taking smart and quick angles to the ball carrier. Frierson is the best on the team at this regardless of position. The striker is great at penetrating the backfield from the position. After week five, he has tallied six tackles for losses and six QB pressures.
4 — Jared Harrison-Hunte
Out of 200 graded interior defensive linemen on Pro Football Focus, Jared Harrison-Hunte grades out as the No. 32 best in the country. This combines elements of run and pass defense. Hunt leads the team in sacks this year with three and has a total of 10 QB pressures.
He has has been able to do this in a spell role to Nesta Silvera and Jon Ford. Silvera has totaled 190 snaps, Ford 183 on the year. Hunte has been able to put these numbers up in in just 141 total defensive snaps. He has seen his role increase as the season goes along due to his stout play. The redshirt freshman showed flashes last year but looks to be fully coming out this season as one of Miami’s most talented interior linemen.
3 — Bubba Bolden
No player on the Hurricanes’ defense is around the ball more than Bubba Bolden. The do everything safety has taken the reigns as Miami’s emotional leader on defense after explosive showings against FSU and Clemson. The spark plug leads the team with 30 total tackles and has four tackles for loss. Bolden has also earned ACC Defensive Player of the week honors after his breakout game against No. 1 Clemson, in which he garnered 10 tackles, a forced fumble, two tackles for a loss and two blocked field-goal.
He’s also been a turnover machine, forcing three fumbles on the year and picking off another. Bolden is on the field a lot for the Hurricanes, second to only Al Blades on the team in overall defensive snaps with 313. Bolden has earned the trust of the coaches on defense, and it has showed this year with how much the coaches have asked of him. He lined up often against UL’s best player Tutu Atwell and plays a lot of hard coverage snaps for UM.
2 — Jaelan Phillips
Second in overall QB pressures, no tackle Jaelan Phillips has faced this year has been able to shut him down. If holding was a stat that was tracked, I dont think there would be anyone who gets held more in the nation.
Phillips has made a name for himself at Miami through just five games. Stepping in place of top NFL draft pick Greg Rousseau, Phillips has made it look like Miami did not lose any talent at the defenseive end position. He has two sacks this season and has notched 18 QB pressures.
Opposing offenses often scheme for Phillips, as he gets doubled and schemed out of plays because OC’s don’t want to allow him to blow up plays with his athleticism. Like his west coast friend Bolden, he finishes plays near the ball on several occasions in games.
Phillips has batted one ball down this year and had a very athletic interception against Florida State. 4.5 of his nine total tackles have been behind the line of scrimmage. Phillips allows UM’s defense to play a lot more loose because he is so active and has to be accounted for every down.
1 — Quincy Roche
Quincy Roche has lived in opposing offenses backfields all year. He has 19 total tackles this season, nine of which have been tackles for loss. The Temple transfer has also registered two sacks and a whopping 19 total pressures. This stat leads the team with Phillips coming in second.
Roche has been consistent all year at attacking the QB while refining his skills at defending the rush. He has a forced fumble and one recovery, along with an athletic interception that was called back against Clemson. Although the INT was called back, this displayed Roche’s sheer athleticism and versatility. It wasn’t your average defensive lineman interception, as Roche actually nicely backpedaled into coverage and jumped a short route thrown by Trevor Lawrence.
He may not have his hand down at the next level but his stock will surely rise significantly after the season as scouts begin to breakdown his film and see just how often he beats his man one-on-one.