Opportunistic Defense Must Step Up for Miami Hurricanes in Russell Athletic Bowl

By Tyler Brett
tracy howard
Bob Donnan – USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes took a major step towards getting back to the top of the college football world in 2013. They didn’t quite get all the way back, falling short in the ACC title race, but still have an opportunity to earn a 10-win season in their Russell Athletic Bowl matchup against the Louisville Cardinals. If the Canes hope to get it done against Louisville, the opportunistic Miami defense will need to step up.

Louisville will bring a solid offense with them into the Russell Athletic Bowl this postseason led by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who may end up as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Louisville will stretch the field with the passing game which will test the Miami secondary in a major way. The Canes have been susceptible against the pass this season, ranking No. 72 in the nation this season, giving up 233.4 yards per game through the air.

However, the defense has been able to bend but not break against the pass with the ability to create turnovers with interceptions. On the season, they rank No. 34 in passer rating against and have allowed just 13 passing touchdowns in 12 games this season while recording 18 interceptions. 10 different Miami defenders have recorded an interception this season led by sophomore Tracy Howard and his four picks on the year, including one returned for a touchdown.

That ball-hawking secondary will be a major key for the Canes when they match up with Bridgewater and the Cardinals. Being able to turn the tide of a game with a momentum shift sparked by a big interception is a serious boost to Miami’s chances of victory. If they can create turnovers, Miami can score a huge 10th win of the season and take the next step towards restoring the U to its former glory.

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