Miami Safety Bubba Bolden Among Hurricanes Climbing Depth Chart

Chris Perkins

Bubba Bolden, the University of Miami’s junior safety, seemed to be all over the field in Thursday’s 31-14 victory over Alabama-Birmingham. He seemed to be delivering big hits against the run and providing tight coverage against the pass. Yet statistically he only accounted for two tackles.

Despite the humble numbers Bolden’s performance was good enough to impress defensive coordinator Blake Baker and put Bolden among the Hurricanes moving up the depth chart.

Bolden, a backup for the opener, is now listed alongside junior Gurvan Hall Jr., as a co-starter at safety for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. game between 17th-ranked Miami (1-0) and 18th-ranked Louisville (1-0).

“I thought Bubba played outstanding on Thursday,” Baker said. “I was very impressed with how physical he was.”

Bolden isn’t the only player who could earn more playing time against Louisville.

Sophomore linebacker Sam Brooks, a mainstay in third-down packages, also opened some eyes with his performance Thursday. Brooks, who had three tackles, could share snaps in the base defense at middle linebacker with junior starter Bradley Jennings, Jr.

In another tightening position battle sophomore cornerback Te’Cory Couch is gaining ground on junior D.J. Ivey.

“I thought at corner we were average,” Baker said, adding the safeties played pretty well overall.

As for other defensive guys pushing for more playing time Baker mentioned freshmen defensive ends Jared Harrison-Hunte and Cam Williams.

At wide receiver, Mark Pope, Dee Wiggins, Mike Harley and Jeremiah Payton have experience (even though Payton is a redshirt freshman), which makes offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee comfortable. So even though the starters didn't do much statistically no changes are planned.

“I think with those older guys experience is a big factor right now,” Lashlee said. “We really like our young receivers and I think as the year goes on you’ll see those guys helps us more and more.” 

The outlook is different at left guard, however.

Sophomore left guard Ousman Traore has been replaced on the depth chart by sophomore Jakai Clark, who missed a big part of the fall due to injury. Clark played a few snaps against UAB.

“Ous was OK the other night,” Lashlee said. “We kind of feel like we have six or seven guys that can start. You talk about Ous, Jakai, you talk about Zion (Nelson), who played a lot last year. We just feel like right now it’s a good opportunity to get Jakai that shot but I don’t think there’s any question we’re going to need Ous to win football games this year.”

Coach Manny Diaz agreed.

"Traore didn’t play poorly," Diaz said. "Jakai Clark is a guy we’ve known is a starting-quality player. We felt we were deeper this year on the offensive line than we were a year ago, and just as reviewing the film with the offensive staff we just felt that Jakai would maybe settle in a little better at left guard.

"But I think you’ll continue to see us go past five deep (with) six, seven eight guys being able to go in there."