The Miami Hurricanes defensive back unit was highly scrutinized after its Week 1 showing against UAB. Dealing with the transfer of sophomore cornerback Christian Williams, the depleted Canes unit was able to do just enough in coverage to get the win over Louisville.
Bubba Bolden had a strong night tackling and closing on players in space. Still, his numbers may look worse than they actually are when you play the tape back. Bolden was targeted seven times and allowed catches in every throw intended to his man. He also gave up five first downs and a touchdown. Two of Bolden’s catches allowed were stops behind or on the line of scrimmage.
Three of those receptions and the score were to Tutu Atwell Jr. for 45 yards. Atwell’s receptions counted for 45 of the 73 yards allowed by Bolden. Overall, it was a busy night for him as he lined up in coverage against five different Cardinal players.
There was a play early in the the game where Bolden was responsible for a third of the end zone and left his man completely open. If there was a better pass by UL’s Malik Cunningham, it would’ve added a second touchdown that Bolden gave up on the night.
The much talked about DJ Ivey was on the field for 33 snaps on defense, being targeted twice, allowing one reception for 11 yards and a first down.
Ivey’s performance was a step up from last week’s outing against the Blazers. Although he logged significantly less snaps than in Week 1, where he played 54. Ivey lined up against Cardinals receiver Dez Fitzpatrick the majority of the game.
Al Blades has been the most consistent defender for Miami and looks to be the teams legitimate number one corner. He was targeted four times in coverage and only allowed one 13-yard catch that resulted in a first down. He logged his first interception and the first turnover chain appearance of the year on a nice play in man coverage. Working across the field, Blades was able to undercut a pass from Cunningham to kill their drive.
Blades finished the night with 75 snaps on defense and was in coverage for 36 of them. He spent most of his snaps covering Justin Marshall.
Te’Cory Couch had his most active game of his young career, logging 58 snaps on UM’s first road appearance of the season, a step up after playing 29 versus UAB.
Couch was targeted six times, allowing five receptions for 84 yards. In total, he allowed four first downs to the Cardinal offense. Couch got his nose in on a few key stops throughout the night, including a huge one on 3rd and long.
Amari Carter had a quiet night in coverage, only allowing two receptions on three targets for 36 yards and a first down. Carter made his presence felt, laying the wood into Cardinal ball carriers like we usually see him do.
He had a huge hit late in the game that was violent enough to be mistaken for targeting. Carter ultimately played 63 snaps, 31 of which were in coverage.
Gilbert Frierson was targeted two times and allowed two catches for 10 yards and a first down. He was in coverage for 21 of his total 54 defensive snaps.
Gurvan Hall was limited after a minor injury early. He finished the game with 26 snaps played on defense after recording 46 against UAB. Hall was targeted once in coverage against Louisville’s Fitzpatrick, allowing that pass to go for 19 yards and a first down.
Keontra Smith was targeted once while covering Atwell, resulting in a 10 yard reception and a first down. Early on, Smith had an aggressive penalty on a late hit out of bounds which gave the Cardinals a big first down. Eight of his 32 total snaps were in coverage.
Freshman Isaiah Dunson played nine snaps, six of which were in passing situations, giving up just one reception for five yards against Fitzpatrick.
Like Miami’s offense, UL is built to get players in space and make linebackers and defensive backs tackle well in space. Miami’s defensive backs played far off the line all night and forced the Cardinals to drive the field. They were not very successful at finishing without the long play.
In today’s modern passing offenses, defensive backs are bound to give up yards. The athletes are plenty and it always pays to get them in space, it’s just how the game works today.
It’s up to coach Manny Diaz’s guys to tackle well and limit explosive plays when a team takes shots, which they did well for more than half the game.