Defensive coordinators Brent Venables (Clemson) and Manny Diaz (Miami) had every reason to believe in their front-sevens entering the conference title game, both ranking top-10 nationally in tackles for loss, but the Tigers were able to reaffirm their reputation on another big stage — particularly star lineman Christian Wilkins.
The Hurricanes moved backwards throughout the night. Highlighted by Wilkins’ effort, Venables’ group knocked down passes, pressured Miami quarterback Malik Rosier, shut down the running game and delivered big play after big play. Every negative occurence on the offense end for Mark Richt’s team originated in the trenches, where Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell and others took over.
The Hurricanes struggled against Pitt in the disappointing season finale, but the Tigers’ defense exposed the Coastal Division champs.