Miami looking to improve run defense against Cal

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Miami senior linebacker Glenn Cook said it's not uncommon to see defensive coordinator Bill Young walking around the football building or in his office joking and smiling.

Not recently, though.

Not after Young's defense allowed an average of 345.5 rushing yards in the past two games, both of which were losses.

"He was not pleased with that," Cook said, "so we really worked hard on that. I think we've improved."

Instead of peaking at the end of the season, Miami's rushing defense seemed to take a step back, and it's going to have to reassert itself on Saturday against Cal in the Emerald Bowl in order to have a chance to win. Jahvid Best ended the regular season with 1,394 rushing yards -- the fourth-highest total in school history.

Cook said Miami's game plan is to force Cal into long passing situations, but the Hurricanes are wary of Cal's passing game, too.

"We're going in trying to stop the run," Cook said. "Jahvid Best, he's a real good running back, really explosive. You'll see on film where he'll break one for 50 for a touchdown."

During Miami's five-game winning streak, the Hurricanes allowed just 97.8 rushing yards per game and held three opponents -- Central Florida, Virginia Tech and Virginia -- to under 78 rushing yards each. It started to unravel, though, at Georgia Tech, when the Canes were run over for 472 yards, just 17 yards shy of what all five opponents combined for during Miami's five-game winning streak.

"Georgia Tech, we really didn't play very sound that game," Cook said. "You go back to watching film and it was very small things that hurt us. Against an offense like that you can't do that. We missed a lot of tackles the last two games of the season. We've gotten back to fundamental tackling drills and getting in position and pursuit angles. We went back to the small things these last couple days and really worked on technique and fundamentals and getting back to our style of football."