Former Miami defensive lineman Warren Sapp unloaded both barrels in a scathing critique in a State of The U radio address, saying in part that defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio “is killing my school.” Another former player, Eric Winston, described the defensive scheme as “brutal,” while former defensive back Duane Starks called it “embarrassing” how the defensive staff is consistently “outcoached.”
As the Hurricanes opened spring practice Saturday, D’Onofrio was asked about the wave of criticism that’s washed over him of late. The coordinator said he was unaware of any criticism and it was the first time hearing of it, then immediately proceeded to brush it off.
“I’m not going to worry about that,” the coach said according to the Miami Herald. “The guys in the building understand what we’re doing. I can only worry about coaching the guys here and trying to get them to execute at a higher level.”
Head coach Al Golden has consistently backed his beleaguered coordinator, with Golden’s boss, athletic director Blake James, was recently quoted as supporting how Golden has put his staff together.
Sapp and others, though, have a point in their collective criticism of how the defense has underperformed of late.
As the Herald wrote, “UM finished in the bottom half of the country in every key statistical category in 2013: 65th of 123 teams in scoring defense (26.8), 77th in run defense (176 yards per game), 88th in third-down conversion defense (31.9 percent success rate for opposing offenses, 45 percent in the final month), 89th in total defense (426.4 yards per game), 90th in pass defense (249.8), and 108th in fourth-down conversion defense (14 of 21 successful).”
There’s certainly plenty of talent on that side of the ball, enough talent where such statistical lows should be unattainable. While Golden stands by his man at the moment, another season of underperforming could lead him to think twice about that stance.
(Photo credit: Miami athletics)