Coming into 2013 with a huge chip on their shoulder, the Miami Hurricanes showcased their talent Saturday on the field in Sun-Life Stadium for their annual spring game. Head coach Al Golden and his squad of orange-clad warriors feel they have a lot to prove to everyone. And, if Saturday was any indication, they’re moving in the right direction.
As expected, the ‘Canes didn’t seem to be missing much on offense. In the first half alone, Miami’s two main pieces, QB Stephen Morris and RB Duke Johnson, didn’t fail to disappoint the crowd.
Morris threw for four touchdowns on just 10 pass attempts, while Johnson was able to rack up 120 yards on 10 carries. While both players need to make their own respective strides to becoming the definitive leaders of this team, their talent has never really been a question.
With improved accuracy from the hard-throwing Morris and the normal maturation process taking place with the sophomore Johnson, the Miami offense should be difficult to deal with.
Now, the defense is another subject entirely.
Ranking near the bottom the last few seasons amongst the major conferences, the Miami defense hasn’t really clicked effectively. Changing this in 2013 could mean everything in giving Miami the chance to play for the ACC Title. Due to self-imposed sanctions, the ‘Canes missed out on this chance last season, and that is definitively their number one goal.
Of the entire defensive unit, parts of the front-four stood out the most.
Miami ranked ninth worst in the nation against the run last season. If there was any area that needed improvement, it was the big men up front. And, while not showing signs of being a defensive line that could be compared to the one in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, they showed signs of improvement.
In 44 minutes of time spent on the field, the collective Miami defense combined for three sacks and a slew of tackles for losses. Against a productive Miami offense, this was most certainly a good sign.
With defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio stating that he didn’t show nearly all the schemes that he could have on Saturday, the Hurricanes have a lot that they can build on with the talent they have up front.
Most will look at the numbers from Johnson and Morris above and question really how improved the unit can possibly be. And again, I’m not saying that they are going to have people calling for a Miami move to the SEC with their play.
However, football is a game of progression. And, progression is what the Miami defensive line showed as the game moved on Saturday.