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Russell Athletic Bowl Preview: Miami Pass Defense

Can the Miami secondary contain the plethora of receivers that WVU will use?

Florida Atlantic v Miami

Miami and the ACC are not as accustomed to the spread offenses and high tempo games that the Big 12 likes to play. As part of this, Miami’s pass defense looks both good and bad when you start reading into it.

Led by four seniors, Miami’s secondary has allowed teams to complete 58% of their passes (60th nationally) at a clip of 10.8 yards per completion. The leading cornerback, Corn Elder, has had a good senior season. He only caught one interception but broke up 12 passes. Adrian Colbert has been injured and only played in six games.

West Virginia will counter these senior cornerbacks with Shelton Gibson. Gibson finished third nationally with 23.2 yards per catch. Not just the teams big play receiver, Gibson led the team in receiving yards, 927, and touchdowns, 8. Thanks in part to Gibson’s prowess on the deep ball, West Virginia has averaged over 13 yards per reception, good for 24th in the country.

Working the middle of the field is senior Daikel Shorts. Shorts has been the safety blanket for the offense. His 58 receptions lead the team and remarkably, 48 of those have been for either a first down or a touchdown.

Where Miami will look to gain an upperhand will be their defensive line. Freshman Joe Jackson wreaked havoc this year while generating 7.5 sacks. Junior Chad Thomas added another 4 sacks. The West Virginia offensive line will have its hands full with these talented defensive linemen generating pressure. If the Mountaineers can block the Miami line, senior quarterback Skyler Howard should be able to exploit a banged up secondary with his talented receivers.