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Wednesday night notes: Duke Johnson, Canes, Dolphins, Heat

Some Canes, Dolphins and Heat tidbits:

### For all of his glorious achievements as a freshman, Duke Johnson has told people that there’s at least one area where he wants to make a big jump this season: performance in big games.

He wasn’t pleased how he fared against the toughest competition last year. He’s determined to change that, and you can be sure that is on Johnson’s mind as he enters Saturday’s showdown against Florida.

Consider Johnson’s rushing numbers in the games against arguably the four best teams on Miami’s schedule last season:

Kansas State: six rushes, 19 yards, 3.2 average

Notre Dame: eight rushes, 22 yards, 2.8 average

North Carolina: 14 rushes, 47 yards, 3.4 average

FSU: nine rushes, 27 yards, 3.0 average

Johnson didn’t get enough carries in the K-State and Notre Dame games, largely because the Hurricanes fell behind big and had to throw the ball more than they would have liked.

In those four games, Johnson averaged 3.1 per carry. In the eight other games, he averaged 8.2.

Johnson had the most rushing yards of any FBS player in Week 1 (186 yards, on 19 carries, equal to a 9.8 average).

The matchup of Johnson against UF’s run defense should be one of the delicious subplots of this game.

ESPN’s Stats and Information unearthed this interesting factoid: Johnson has six rushes of 50-plus yards in 13 career games, including a 53-yarder last week. (That’s the most in major college football since the start of 2012.)

Conversely, UF has allowed only two rushes of 50-plus yards in the last 10 years -– three fewer than any other FBS school.

The last 50-yard rush on a single play against the Gators came courtesy of Furman in 2011. The Gators allowed 95 yards rushing per game last season (fourth in FBS) and have permitted only one rusher to reach the 100-yard mark in the past 16 games (Georgia’s Todd Gurley).

### UM’s Al Golden said today he expects receiver Rashawn Scott to miss a month with a shoulder injury. “In the larger scheme of things, it’s pretty fortunate that it’s not going to be anything that requires surgery," he said.

UM’s top four receivers for Saturday's game figure to be Allen Hurns, Philip Dorsett, Herb Waters and Stacy Coley, unless Malcolm Lewis surpasses Coley. Though Lewis is able to play, he understandably isn’t completely back to the form he showed before last season’s horrific ankle injury. UM said this week that Lewis is still regaining confidence in the ankle.

UM’s sixth and seventh receivers, if needed Saturday, will be D’Mauri Jones and Garrett Kidd. Jontavious Carter would have been in position to get some snaps this month if he hadn’t been bounced from the team a couple weeks ago for multiple violations of rules.

### In a conference call with Cleveland reporters in advance of Sunday’s game, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin listed three things “I’m looking for from Ryan Tannehill this year. Number one: improved decision making. Number two: better ball accuracy. And Number three, playmaking abilities at critical times in a game. Beyond that, I’m not concerned about how other people compare him to Andrew Luck, RGIII or anybody else. I am concerned about how well he plays for the Miami Dolphins.”

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said of Tannehill: “You can really see the growth and progress from last year.”

And receiver Brian Hartline told Cleveland media: “It’s not like he’s going off the charts in a particular category. He’s just solidly getting better every single day…. He’s definitely more vocal."

### Asked by Cleveland reporters about how big a loss Dustin Keller was, Philbin said: “Dustin is a good pro, an excellent guy in the locker-room, certainly a skilled player. But we have a good group of tight ends, and I think we’ll be fine there.” 

### Hartline told Cleveland media that besides having a “rare skill set,” Mike Wallace “is a guy that’s really intellectual when it comes to football, probably doesn’t get a whole lot of credit for it.”

### Two players familiar to South Florida sports fans will essentially be “co-starters” at one receiver spot for Cleveland this weekend: Former Dolphin Davone Bess and former Hurricane Travis Benjamin.

### CBS will air Dolphins-Browns in 9 percent of the country (much of Florida and Ohio; Mobile and Dothan, Alabama and Waco and Bryan, Texas), with Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots announcing. For those not getting the game in their local area, keep in mind that DirecTV will make Sunday Ticket available for free to all subscribers this weekend.

### Though one Internet report today listed the Heat among teams interested in journeyman center Hassan Whiteside, his agent said tonight that the Heat has shown no interest this offseason in Whiteside, who auditioned for the Heat last summer before Miami opted for Josh Harrelson instead. Former LSU center Justin Hamilton, the Heat’s 2012 second-round pick, continues to work out with the Heat.

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