Orange Bowl: Reviewing the Miami Hurricane Defense

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 02: Ray-Ray McCloud /

Badger of Honor continues its Orange Bowl study guide by looking at the Miami Hurricanes defense, the stronger side of the ball for Miami.

The Miami Hurricanes and its “turnover chain” became a popular item in the college football world this season.  Perhaps it signal the return of the pride and production of the once and former power program.

Miami’s defense is clearly the stronger side of the ball.  So read on to see what’s in store for the Wisconsin Badger offense in the 2017 Orange Bowl.

The Canes are a formidable group on defense with or without jewelry.  Wisconsin will have to be patient and efficient to move the ball agains the Canes.

Here is where the Miami defense ranks according to national NCAA numbers:

  • Scoring Defense: #20 (19.9 points allowed per game)
  • Red Zone Defense: T-#89 (.865)
  • 3rd Down Defense: #68 (.390)
  • First Down Defense: #68 (246)
  • Rushing Defense: #41 (146.1 yards allowed per game)
  • Passing Defense: #52 (213.7 yards allowed per game)
  • Tackles-for-Loss: #2 (8.8 TFL per game)
  • Turnovers Gained: #2 (30)

So both offenses will be up against it during the Orange Bowl.  The Badgers are facing an aggressive, prolific, and dangerous Hurricane defense.  Most alarming are the TFLs numbers and turnovers.

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To counter that, Wisconsin will likely want to try all measures of screens.  The Badgers can target the fullback, tight end, and a couple different running backs based on what we’ve seen this season.  Unfortunately, QB Alex Hornibrook hasn’t always been on target with them.

That’s in part because it involves a bit more movement in and around the pocket.  And throwing off his spot or on the move are definitely not his strengths.  But screens and end around (HINT: Kendric Pryor) can punish aggressive defenses.

The more promising numbers are that the red zone, third down, and first down marks aren’t incredible.  Most significantly, the rushing numbers are good but not the best we’ve seen.  After all, there are five former Wisconsin opponents ahead of Miami’s #41 ranking:

  • The Ohio State (#7)
  • Northwestern (#9)
  • Michigan (#21)
  • Purdue (#30)
  • Iowa (#38)

Next: 5 Questions with Canes Warning about Miami

As everyone knows, you can shut down the Wisconsin offense if you can stop the run.  Miami’s effectiveness in run defense and getting TFLs to force long conversions will be paramount to its success against the Badgers.

Per usual, taking care of the football and avoiding negative plays are crucial for the Badger’s offensive production.