Miami’s defense has been their calling card in 2018, and that will need to continue in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against the Wisconsin Badgers.
One of the players at the center of the defense is junior LB Zach McCloud. A 4-star recruit out of Santaluces (FL) HS in 2016, McCloud has been a 3 year starer along with Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney at the linebacker position.
McCloud has prototypical size for a LB at 6’2” 235lbs. He puts that size to good use in run support, and pass coverage against TEs in the seam. McCloud can have a penchant for a bad play or penalty, and that will need to be under control in the bowl game, for sure.
In his 3rd year here at Miami, McCloud has compiled a stat line of 38 tackles, 4.5 TFL, and 1.5 sacks. Those numbers are comparable to his previous years, so there’s a measure of consistency in his play. Those numbers would likely have gone up in 2018 but Miami instituted the STRIKER position against more spread teams, and players at that position took snaps and ostensibly stats that McCloud could have earned had he been on the field instead.
Last season against Wisconsin, McCloud had 3 tackles and a TFL against the Badgers in the Orange Bowl. Similar performance or better would be nice to see, especially since we’re likely to see more of McCloud on the field than any player from the STRIKER position due to Wisconsin’s size and physical style of play.
While he’s not the superstar LB some (me, I’m talking about me) thought he’d be, McCloud is an integral part of Miami’s defense, and he’ll have to step up and play a solid game when the Canes face the Badgers in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on December 27th.