Although the Miami Hurricanes lost both of their starters at defensive tackle — RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton — to early declarations for the NFL draft, don’t expect defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to wallow.
In fact, while most point to the lack of depth caused by McIntosh and Norton’s departures as one of Miami’s biggest issues, Diaz scoffs at the idea that Miami might not have capable defensive tackle play in 2018.
“I go back to the conversations that we would have had two years ago when we first got to Miami during that first spring,” Diaz told The Joe Rose Show on 560 WQAM, according to Inside The U’s David Lake. “Who were Kendrick Norton and RJ McIntosh back then? Those guys did a great job of developing and turning into outstanding college football players. It was not like years ago that people were like thank God we have these guys.
“We went into 2016 with our defensive line being an unknown, so this is not something that we’re not used to.”
Diaz went on to sing the praises of Gerald Willis and Jon Ford, the expected starters on the interior defensive line. He beamed about Willis’ potential as a disruptive three-technique and compared Ford to a Christmas present that hadn’t yet been unwrapped because he got to campus so late in the summer last year.
If Diaz and new defensive line coach Jess Simpson can get that pairing up to speed quickly and round out their depth this spring and summer, it will go a long way toward making Miami contenders in the ACC once again this fall.
Correction: Jon Ford’s first name was misspelled in the original post. DieHards regrets the error.