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Meet the Hurricanes

I understand this isn't exactly novel information for many of y'all, but for the select few unfamiliar with Miami, here you go...  

2012 Record: 7-5 (5-3 ACC)

Returning Starters: 19: Offense: 10, Defense: 9

Key departures: RB Mike James (Tampa Bay Buccaneers sixth round selection, 9 total TDs in 2012), CB Brandon McGee (team-leading 2 INTs, St. Louis Rams fifth round pick), LB Eddie Johnson (dismissed, fourth on team in tackles as a freshman with 59), LB Gionni Paul (transfer) 

Player to watch offense: RB/return specialist Duke Johnson – The 'Canes’ dynamic tailback exploded onto the scene as a freshman in 2012. The former Miami Norland standout earned multiple freshman All-American honors -- as well as ACC Rookie of the Year -- after rushing for 947 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 6.81 yards per carry. Johnson, who broke UM star Clinton Portis’ school freshman rushing record, also tallied a pair of kickoff return touchdowns and will again run behind a massive offensive line returning all five starters and plenty of experience (3 seniors, 2 juniors). 

Player to watch defense: DE Shayon Green – Miami’s injury-maligned defensive end finished first on the team in tackles in 2012, but the senior failed to record a single sack while also collecting just three quarterback hurries. With Eddie Johnson kicked off the team, an already porous ‘Canes defense will need a new playmaker to emerge. Green has shown flashes of productivity throughout his career, but he’s struggled to stay on the field with multiple ACL injuries and a broken wrist.

2013 Outlook: Hopeful

Finally (maybe) eligible to compete for a conference title, the Hurricanes are the early favorites to win the newly expanded ACC Coastal Division. With a high-octane attack led by junior quarterback Stephen Morris (3,345 yards, 21 TDs), Johnson and a quintet of young and explosive pass catchers, UM’s offense is expected to carry the load early as sorts out its defensive question marks. Morris, who broke Bernie Kosar’s school record for total offense (3,415 yards) -- was an All-ACC performer in 2012 and is considered one of the top returning signal callers in the country.

The Hurricanes haven’t won 10 or more games in a decade, and despite a navigable schedule, things won’t change if their defense continues to yield points at an alarming rate. Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio managed to keep his job even though his unit surrendered 40+ points three times and 30 or more points seven times. The ‘Canes were awful against both the run and pass, finishing No. 115 nationally in sacks (13) and No. 114 in rushing defense (217.9 yards/gm). Miami isn’t devoid of defensive talent -- especially with the likes of linebacker Denzel Perryman, Green and defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo (team-leading 4.0 sacks) -- but it’s a unit without a lot of direction.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton


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