The Miami Hurricanes enter the spring practice period looking to build off a strong start to the 2013 season. One of the first things the team did was move running back Dallas Crawford to the defensive side of the ball to add some athleticism to the safety position. While the move was somewhat surprising given Crawford’s workload out of the backfield last season, it’s a move that will benefit Miami by getting their best players on the field to help them win in 2014.
After Duke Johnson went down last season, Crawford stepped in and carried the load the rest of the way, gaining 558 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns. With Johnson still recovering from his injury and highly touted early enrollee Joseph Yearby out this spring with an injury of his own, most people assumed that Crawford would once again shouldering the bulk of the carries during the spring. Instead, Crawford will take his talents back to the defensive side of the ball (where he played his freshman year) and Gus Edwards and Walter Tucker will get the bulk of the reps during the spring at running back.
This move will be best for Miami in the long run because the Canes’ needs on defense are far more pressing than at running back. Johnson is expected back in the fall and has the ability to be a workhorse back that will take the vast majority of the carries. Yearby is thought of very highly by the Miami coaching staff and will provide a quality change-of-pace back for Johnson when he needs a spell. Getting Edwards and Tucker involved during the spring to develop will allow Miami to have up to four quality backs to use in rotation next fall.
Meanwhile, Miami’s defense was largely responsible for their late-season swoon in 2013. The team finished No. 13 in the ACC in total defense and must address their biggest need (safety) this offseason or risk getting burned over the top all year long. Al Golden recognized that Crawford was one of “the best 22” on the roster and needed to find a spot in the starting lineup in 2014. Getting him plugged into their greatest area of need is just a bonus.