When I first starting looking at the performance of the Miami defense the first thing that jumped out at me is the takeaways. Through five games they have registered 13 takeaways, which is outstanding. But forcing turnovers isn't the be all and end all. Forcing them at the right time is. In this respect Miami is very good. However if they don't force turnovers in bunches they are screwed. The perfect example of this is their game against Missouri. They forced one turnover from Blaine Gabbert, in the dying moments of the first half, in their own endzone. They promptly took a knee to run out the clock and the regularly scheduled beating resumed after the half. They are good if force turnovers, not good if they don't. All that considered, this is still a much improved defense over last years group.
Here is a per game comparison between this years Redhawks defense and last years.
It is basically a complete flip to this point. The only statistic that is worse this year is passing defense, and that has very little to do with the actual play of the secondary last year, more to do with the fact that Miami couldn't stop the run at all last season. 101st in rushing yards, 103rd in yards per carry. On the face of it Miami's defense looks pretty strong. They stop the run, and they force turnovers, two big check marks on the list of any great defense. However statistics, like life, are devoid of meaning without context. The context for Miami is that they have faced one good offense, Missouri, and they were annihilated by the Tigers. Colorado State, Kent State and Eastern Michigan are terrible offenses, absolutely abysmal. In total offense Kent is 115th, Colorado State 108th, Eastern Michigan 93rd. I know some Miami fans and they have pointed with so much pride to the way Miami played against Florida's offense. However five games into the Gators season its pretty safe to say that playing well against Florida's offense this year isn't anything resembling the accomplishment it was for the last three years. Even with all the problems that UC has had to date on offense, on a per game and per snap basis UC is comfortably better on offense than everyone on the Redhawks schedule except Missouri. Miami has good numbers, but they haven't played but one good offense.
Miami needs to force turnovers because they struggle to stop drives without them. Through 5 games Miami has forced just 11 three and outs, an average of 2.2 per game. UC on the other hand has accumulated 18 of them in just 4 games, a 4.5 average. The comparison of style for Miami that kept jumping out at me as I started looking at this game was Oregon. Miami doesn't come close to approximating the wealth of talent that Oregon has on defense, nor do they play very similar schemes. However Miami does share one rather important characteristic with their fellow avian mascoted colleague. Both teams struggle to stop competent offenses without forcing turnovers. They play good, down to down defense, but not great and for either defense to be at its best they need to force turnovers. So for UC to be successful on Saturday night they need hold onto the ball and force Miami to stop them on their own merits. I just don't think Miami is capable of that yet