Perhaps the biggest transfer portal pick up for Miami in the off-season, Akheem Mesidor was expected to have an immediate impact for the Hurricanes defense in 2022. So far through six games, he’s done exactly that.
Against Virginia Tech on Saturday, Mesidor had his best game. Terrorizing the Hokies offensive line, Mesidor finished the day with 3.5 sacks, 3.5 TFLs and 8 tackles.
Mesidor was named Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week.
His play not only helped himself to a big day, but it helped the Canes pass-rush have their best performance of the season, racking up 6 team sacks and 7 TFLs in the 20-14 victory.
Miami’s defense, and pass-rush especially, has turned it way up over the last two games, finally showing fans the dominance we all expected to see leading up to the 2022 season.
Through the first four games of this year, the Hurricanes defense had a combined 10 sacks, and we saw especially against Middle Tennessee State, what the lack of a solid pass-rush does.
Against MTSU, Mesidor played just 34 snaps, as the defense gave up 45 points in the embarrassing loss. The quarterback had plenty of time to throw, exposing Miami’s weak pass-coverage.
Mesidor has since played 49 snaps in both of the last two games, combining for 11 tackles, 4 sacks and 2 pass-deflections.
The defense as a whole has benefited largely from Mesidor’s presence, combining for 11 sacks and 16 TFL’s.
Mitchell Agude, Leonard Taylor, Corey Flagg and others, have all seen what happens when Mesidor becomes a bigger priority for opposing offensive lines. Flagg is able to run free at linebacker, Agude and Jahfari Harvey aren’t prioritized as much coming off the edge.
Mesidor currently leads the Canes defense with 5 sacks, to go along with 6 TFLs and 19 tackles. Just to give you an idea of how good he’s playing, Miami’s leader last year was Zach McCloud, who ended 2021 with 5.5 sacks, 7.5 TFLs and 28 total tackles.
Collectively, Miami’s 2022 defense is well on their way to surpass what they did in terms of pass-rushing in 2021. Last year, the Canes had 33 sacks as a defense. They have 20 in 2022, through 6 games, and 11 just in the last two weeks.