After the Miami Hurricanes got off to a 7-0 start last season, they looked likely to cruise into their first appearance in the ACC Championship. Then, they were obliterated by the Florida State Seminoles and everything fell apart. Running back Duke Johnson went down for the year with a broken ankle during the game with the Seminoles, and the Hurricanes ended up finishing 9-4, with the season capped off by a 36-9 shellacking at the hands of the Louisville Cardinals in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
The Hurricanes will get a shot at redemption in 2014. They will have as good a chance as anyone to win the unpredictable Coastal Division, and their first game of the season will be a rematch with the Cardinals. But the Hurricanes do have some issues to worry about in 2014, and they may turn to a couple incoming freshman to help assuage those fears.
Thanks to Johnson’s injury, the running back position is a little bit of a question mark. There is no doubt that Johnson is one of the best running backs in the country when healthy, but he has not seen the field since getting hurt last year. He will be the unquestioned starter going into 2014, but if he has lost a step or gets injured again, there will be more opportunities for other backs. Fortunately, Miami will have other options, including incoming freshman Joseph Yearby.
Yearby will also have to compete with Gus Edwards for carries, but he should find his way on to the field this season, regardless of how Johnson recovers from his injury. It will only be a question of how Miami will utilize him. Yearby is a small but explosive running back who could complement Johnson well as the second option. He was a four-star recruit and the No. 9 running back nationally for the class of 2014, according to 247 Sports. He picked Miami over offers from Florida State, the Alabama Crimson Tide, the West Virginia Mountaineers and others.
Miami’s defensive line had all kinds of problems last year. The Hurricanes finished 112th in the nation in rushing defense, allowing nearly 220 yards per game on the ground. Miami also finished ninth in the ACC in sacks, with 29 on the year.
Incoming DE Chad Thomas could do a lot to change that. Thomas was considered a five-star prospect and the No. 3 weak-side defensive end in the class of 2014 by 247 Sports. Thomas already has the size to excel as a pass-rusher, at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, and his explosiveness will make him very difficult to block. He could step into a starting position immediately for the Hurricanes, but at the very least, he will feature prominently in their rotation. Thomas picked Miami from a long list of offers that include Alabama, Florida State, the Florida Gators and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.