University of Miami running back Duke Johnson burst onto the scene as a true Freshman last year. He carried the ball 139 times for 947 times and 10 Touchdowns. Johnson also 27 passes for 221 yards and a TD and had two Kickoff Returns for TDs.
Going into 2013, Johnson was the clear No. 1 back for Miami, but the question was who would be the backup. Senior Mike James was the No. 2 back in 2102, even though he led the Hurricanes in carries, but his departure left a hole at the position. The competition was between Senior Eduardo Clements and Sophomore Dallas Crawford.
Over the last two weeks, Clements hasn’t received a single touch and Crawford has been the one to spell Johnson. In wins over Savannah State and South Florida, Crawford carried the ball 18 times for 82 yards and four TDs. Those two games were blowouts, so it was hard to gauge exactly what impact he would have for the remainder of the season.
On Saturday against Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes were out gained on the ground 335-227. However, the two biggest impacts from running backs came from the two UM players. Johnson carried the load with 22 rushes for 184 yards. He also caught one pass for 27 yards and had four kick returns for 114 yards.
In the fourth quarter, with only a one point lead, Crawford sealed the game for Miami; he scored on back-to-back drives from three yards out and 18 yards out to give Miami a 38-23 lead with 1:46 left. Crawford finished the day with only five carries for 31 yards, but had the two big TDs.
At 5-0, the Hurricanes are contenders for an ACC title this year, and with this pair of running backs, they could be set for the next two years as well.
This was a weekend full of embarrassing victories for some of the top teams in the country against lower level competition. There were a lot of running clocks and even a shortened fourth quarter in those games that were out of hand early. While Ohio State, Louisville and Florida State left their starters in deep into the game, only the University of Miami played this game the right way.
In a 76-0 Victory over Florida A&M, Ohio State left Quarterback Kenny Guiton in the entire first half and allowed him to throw for a school record six touchdowns. Guiton threw a pass on fourth-and-five with less than a minute left in the first half with Ohio state leading 48-0. It was obvious they were trying to get him the record instead of letting another quarterback play.
Louisville beat Florida International University 72-0 behind a strong performance by Teddy Bridgewater. Although coaches agreed on a running clock the last 25 minutes of the game, Louisville Coach Charlie Strong left Bridgewater in through the end of the third quarter with Louisville leading 58-0. On the final drive of the third quarter, Bridgewater threw the ball three of the five plays which led to a Louisville TD.
The University of Miami knew they were going to beat Savannah State no matter who played on their roster. The University of Miami scout team could beat Savannah State by 60 points, so Al Golden didn’t use this as a game to build Heisman resumes for Stephen Morris or Duke Johnson. Instead, he used this as an opportunity to get younger players in the game early and allow his regulars to watch and rest for the upcoming ACC schedule.
The Hurricanes’ two best players are quarterback Stephen Morris, who only played seven plays before giving way to junior Ryan Williams, and running back Duke Johnson, who carried the ball eight times for 59 yards and a touchdown. Morris did injure his ankle and that’s why he came out when he did, but it was just a sprain and he could have played if needed. While a 77-7 victory seems like a team ran up the score and humiliated their opponent, the Hurricanes did everything they could to not score 100 against Savannah State. They even set the 4th quarter clock to 12 minutes and allowed it to run for most of the quarter without stoppage.
Al Golden has been on the other end of these losses while coaching at Temple, so he knows what it feels like to be overmatched by an opponent. He has the University of Miami going in the right direction in 2013. The win over the University of Florida was huge for the program’s success, but the way he handled an inferior opponent like Savannah State will be huge for recruiting. It shows he is a coach that does things the right way and will allow his younger players to play early on in these matchups.