For much of the 2022 season, Miami’s secondary school struggled. Coverage busts and foul play have credited the Hurricanes‘ No. 98 passing defense, which ranks in the bottom quartile nationally.
Still, unity showed positive flashes against the Tar Heels in the second half, limiting the quarterback Drake Maye on just 56 passing yards, no touchdowns and an interception in the last 30 minutes on Saturday. The Hurricanes also became the first team this season to knock out the UNC signal caller multiple times.
That turnaround was partly sparked by the play of the Miami Safeties, led by sophomores Kamren Kinchens and Jacob Williamswas highly praised by head coach Mario Cristobal during Wednesday’s media availability.
“Both guys did really well,” said Cristobal. “For guys at this stage in their careers to take on the roles that they have… It’s impressive.”
Kinchens’ ball skills have taken a leap this season. With three interceptions, he ranks first on the team. While Williams is also prolific in an increasing role on the field, he has also taken on a leadership role.
“I put more pressure on my teammates to do their jobs,” Williams said. “I have to concentrate on everything [of] we do our job.”
His attitude has remained positive despite Miami’s triple losing streak.
“My energy and passion carry a lot in the team,” Williams said. “They say negative energy is contagious. My job is not to spread negative energy.”
Still, the Hurricanes need improved play from their cornerbacks, who have struggled overall this year.
West Virginia transfer Daryl Porter Jr. was a bright spot in this positional group against the Tar Heels. The second cornerback started the second half in place of the injured man Tyrique Stevenson and played well, earning praise from co-defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, available in the media on Monday.
“He’s adapted to the system … He’s settled in now,” Steele said. “He does his job very well.”
The Hurricanes secondary will have an opportunity to amplify that momentum against a Virginia Tech team that is ranked 102nd nationally in passing yards per game this season.
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