The Miami Hurricanes 2013 College Football Preview
2013-08-04 11:00:00 EDT
Introduction: The Miami Hurricanes had one of the youngest teams in the country last season and they may be one step closer to developing into a great team. The Hurricanes played 21 freshman last season, including 10 who started at least one game. The inexperience definitely showed last season, especially on the defensive side of the ball, as Miami had one of the worst defenses in the ACC. Miami finished 7-5 overall and 5-3 in the ACC. Head coach Al Golden returns 14 players who started at least seven games, 9 on offense and 5 on defense.
Offense: The biggest weapon for the Hurricanes coming into this season has to be RB Duke Johnson, who became Miami’s most explosive offensive threat last year. Johnson was ninth in the nation in all-purpose yards per game and averaged 10.7 yards every time he touched the ball. Johnson finished the season with 14 touchdowns, including 10 rushing, one receiving, one passing, and two on kickoff returns. Johnson will be running behind an offensive line that returns all five starters. RB Mike James, who carried the ball eight more times than Johnson last season, is gone. There is no other running back that had more than 16 carries last season, so the Hurricanes will be looking for some newcomers to step up and add some depth in the backfield. QB Stephen Morris is also back after passing for 3,354 yards, the fifth-highest total in program history. Morris will have WR Phillip Dorsett and WR Rashawn Scott, the team’s leading receivers last season. Morris may have a solid tight end this year, as TE Beau Sandland, a junior college transfer, may have the potential to produce big numbers and steal that starting spot. Miami will welcome in a new offensive coordinator, James Coley, who is coming over from Florida State. Coley will call the plays for the Hurricanes this season, but he may not want to change much as the Hurricanes return 9 starters from a solid offense.
Defense: The Hurricanes had a young defense last year that was one of the worst units in the ACC. Miami will have to hope that last years’ experience will help the young players heading into this season. Miami needs help all over the defense, but the Hurricanes have a great chance to improve across the defensive front. DT Curtis Porter only played the final four games last year, but with him healthy this year he could be a huge asset up front. DE Anthony Chickillo had high expectations in 2012, but he did not live up to the hype. DE Shayon Green will join Chickillo on the other side of the line; both players started all 12 games for Miami last year. Miami expects more production out of their defensive ends this year, as Green and Chickillo only produced 8.5 tackles for a loss and 4 sacks combined last season. Linebacker and defensive back will see the most changes of any position on the team. Miami lost one full-time starter at linebacker and cornerback, LB Eddie Johnson has been suspended, and CB Thomas Finnie has also left the team. S Deon Bush would have been the newcomer of the year in 2012 if it wasn’t for Johnson’s incredible season. Bush finished with 34 tackles, 3 pass breakups and 3 forced fumbles last season. If the Hurricanes were to take one positive characteristic from last year’s squad, it would be that Miami’s defense forced three or more turnovers in four games last year.
Special Teams: K Matt Goudis will be in charge of kicking, while post-graduate Cincinnati transfer Pat O’Donnell will be the starting punter. Johnson was one of the best kickoff returners in the country last year and even though his workload will increase on offense this season, I still expect him to play a huge role on special teams.
Final Analysis: Miami has not won 10 games in a season for the past decade, and the lack of success has gradually eroded expectations in Coral Gables. However, with 8 starters returning for a potentially explosive offense and 4 starters back on a rebuilding defense, Miami could develop into a solid team this year. The Hurricanes have a manageable schedule and I could see Miami contending for a Coastal Division title and a trip to the ACC title game.