Duke Johnson, very rarely called by his real first name (Randy), showed just why he’s one of the top backs in the ACC this season on Friday night as the Hurricanes tuned up vs. neighboring rival Florida Atlantic University. The Owls are playing in Conference USA this season after eight years in the Sun Belt Conference, and their Boca Raton campus is located only 30 minutes from Miami.
Johnson ran for 156 yards in the first half alone as head coach Al Golden’s team was never really challenged by the Owls. Johnson sat out much of the second half in preparation for the a big non-conference game against Florida next week. Johnson finished with 19 carries for a career-high 187 yards before leaving the game for good with 4 minutes and 43 seconds left in the third quarter, as the Hurricanes coasted to a 34-6 win.
Johnson seemed to thrive under new offensive coordinator James Coley, who served as Jimbo Fisher’s offensive coordinator at Florida State the past three seasons. Coley unveiled his offense, what he calls a “tempro” — up-tempo pro offense — and it was effective enough.
That could have something to do with the distractions the program currently is facing. Shortly after Golden arrived in 2010 from Temple, he learned that Miami was facing an investigation and possible sanctions. A final determination has not yet been made by the NCAA.
Still, the Hurricanes improved to 7-6 last season and Johnson, despite being a part-time back, earned ACC Rookie of the Year honors.
How the Hurricanes perform against visiting Florida next week will go a long way toward determining if they can improve on that record, but Johnson has proved that he will be a load for the Gators to handle.