Miami Football: Talent and Coaching the Problem on Defense, Not Youth

David MayerCorrespondent INovember 15, 2012

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - NOVEMBER 10:  Running back Perry Jones #33 of the Virginia Cavaliers carries the ball as defensive back A.J. Highsmith #30 of the Miami Hurricanes attempts to make the tackle at Scott Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Charlottesville, Virginia.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

I have been a diehard Miami Hurricane fan for roughly 30 years, and I have never seen a defense this bad. In fact, I may have never seen this bad of a defense in my entire life.

Heading into this Saturday's game against USF, Miami is ranked No. 115 in total defense—giving up 489.6 yards of total offense per game—out of 120 schools.

The rush defense is ranked No. 117, giving up 231 yards on the ground per game. And it's not just because other teams are running a lot. The Hurricanes are giving up a whopping 4.97 yards per carry.

"Fine, the Hurricanes are giving up gobs of yardage, but they aren't allowing that many points."

I wish that were the truth, but the Hurricanes are giving up 31.2 points per game, ranking them No. 90 in in the country.

So what gives? Is it talent or coaching?

I know if you ask the majority of Hurricane fans, they will tell you it's youth, but not meI am totally over that excuse.

Case in point, Virginia.

The Cavaliers are ranked No. 33 in the country in total defense and currently start three seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen. Six freshmen are listed as second- or third-string on the depth chart.

They are also missing two freshmen and a sophomore who are nursing injuries—I did not include them in the above depth chart.

Now take a look at Miami.

The Hurricanes currently start one senior, five juniors, five sophomores and no freshmen. There are eight freshmen that are listed as second- or third-string on the depth chart.

That is not including the suspension of freshmen Eddie Johnson and an injured Deon Bush. Usually the depth chart has one senior, three juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen.

So with a similar amount of young defensive players on both teams, why is Virginia up 82 spots on Miami?

The strength of schedule is comparable, as Miami is ranked No. 50 and Virginia is ranked No. 71. The only difference is the fact that Miami has played two top-ranked undefeated teams.

One of those ranked teams that Miami played, Notre Dame, has a horrible offense (26 points per game) but was able to rack up 43 on the 'Canes.

I honestly believe the majority of the Hurricanes' problem is defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio.

Since he came to Miami (2011 season), his defensive scheme has been less than stellar. The defensive backs are still playing 10-15 yards off the wide receivers, the defensive line still isn't playing gap-football—and don't get me started on poor tackling.

Now I am no coach, nor do I want to be, but you cannot tell me that there isn't anything a defensive coordinator can do to at least improve just a little bit since opening day.

Even with the amount of talent the Hurricanes had last season on the defensive side of the ball, they still ended the season ranked No. 45 in the country in total defense.

That just isn't acceptable at Miami.

I would completely understand if the defense was struggling in the high-scoring Pac-12, but this defense is struggling against a very weak ACC conference.

Besides Clemson and FSU, there isn't another team in the conference with a better record than 6-4—one of them being being North Carolina, which isn't even bowl eligible.

Now you can sit around and blame youth all day long—it's a somewhat valid point—but in my honest opinion, it's the lack of coaching and talent that has this Hurricanes defense in shambles.