Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 8, 2012 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Stormy Forecast Offensive and defensive problems will make success difficult to attain for the Hurricanes By Wes Morgan The Miami Hurricanes packed about as much punch as a slight breeze through three games in 2012, with issues on offense compounded by top-to-bottom problems on defense. The holes second-year head coach Al Goldon had to fill — which included the loss of wide receiver Tommy Streeter and offensive lineman Brandon Washington to the National Football League — remain gaping, and the inexperience on defense has been and will continue to be a liability. After a 6-6 campaign in 2011, the Canes got off to a 2-1 start this fall, squeaking past Boston College 41‑32 in the opener, getting jackhammered by Kansas State 52-13 in week two and beating up on Football Championship Subdivision foe Bethune-Cookman by four touchdowns in week three. Ranking 84th nationally in total offense (367.7 yards allowed per game), 105th in the country in rushing defense (205.7 yards allowed per game) and 89th in passing defense (257.7 yards allowed per game), Miami is clinging to the lone ray of hope visible thus far: freshman running back Duke Johnson. Expected to contribute some as a rookie, Johnson has instead taken the offense and put it on his shoulders. Through three games, Johnson was tied for eighth nationally in scoring (12.0 points per game) and tied for second with six total touchdowns — four rushing, one receiving and one on a kickoff return. “I certainly didn’t expect Duke Johnson to make as quick of an impact as he has,” said David Lake, who covers Miami for Inside The U, a 247Sports affiliate. “I thought in the first three or four games he’d have a little bit of a role, but they’ve really found a way to get him on the field a lot, whether it’s at running back, in the slot or doing kick returns. “He’s really found a way to make an impact. I know it’s way early, but he has certainly been Miami’s best player so far as a true freshman. “I knew he was good, but you can’t expect a freshman to come in and do what he’s doing. I don’t think anyone expected this.” Although the 5-9, 188-pounder is averaging 82.7 rushing yards per game and 9.2 yards per carry, Golden is determined not to ride Johnson into the ground. But having Johnson line up in a variety of ways, whether he’s the target or not, might open things up for an anemic passing game and for other ball carriers. “I don’t think you’ll see him carry it more than 15 times a game,” Lake said. “They do line him up a lot at wide receiver. It draws defenders out of the box when the other running back, Mike James, is in the game. “I don’t think they’ll give him 20‑25 carries a game, but they’ll get him six or seven catches and he’ll do all the kick returns. He’s not doing punt returns yet, but he very well could be by the Notre Dame game. “He has learned everything quickly here and is very mature. That’s one thing Golden has been praising him about here. He’s definitely a smart kid.” Junior quarterback Stephen Morris has the ability to make the Miami offense effective, but it’s a matter of putting skilled players around him to make it all work. Two freshmen and a sophomore comprise the receiving corps, which has yet to wow anybody. “They really haven’t thrown more than two passes over 20 yards this year,” Lake said. “That speaks more to their lack of confidence in the wide receivers coming up with plays down the field in one-on-one situations. Morris has a very, very strong arm and could give those guys a chance to go get it, but there’s just a ton of inexperience at receiver right now. I’m not sure the coaches trust the receivers to come down with those balls if given the opportunity. I don’t see it happening.” Six underclassmen are starting on the defense, which has struggled in all facets. Sophomore defensive end Anthony Chickillo notched five sacks as a freshman in 2011, but as the sole threat on the defensive line, he’s been met with double-teams all season. The team as a whole has registered just four sacks in 2012, and the front two lines have surrendered 617 rushing yards in three games. “There are issues all over the field on defense,” Lake said. “But I think you’d have to say linebacker is probably the strength of the defense. Denzel Perryman, who is their middle linebacker, has really excelled in his role with speed and being able to run sideline to sideline. Against Boston College he had a pick-six that turned the momentum of that game and helped Miami win it. “But I figured the defense would struggle like it has. It’s a very young defense.” Facts & Figures Miami vs. Notre Dame Game Info Date: Oct. 6, 2012 Site: Soldier Field (61,500) in Chicago Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET Television: NBC Radio: The broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 129). Series Facts: This year’s installment of the Shamrock Series, which is Notre Dame’s annual home game away from home, matches the Fighting Irish with the Hurricanes for the 25th time. Notre Dame has a 16‑7‑1 record against Miami dating back to 1955. The Irish beat the Hurricanes 33-17 in the last meeting between the two schools in the 2010 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. Miami Head Coach Al Golden’s Record • 8-7 (.533) in two seasons at Miami • 27-34 (.443) in five seasons at Temple Prime Personnel • QB Stephen Morris — The 6-2, 214-pound junior quarterback completed 67 of 106 passing attempts for 633 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions through three games. As a true freshman in 2010, Morris started the final four regular-season games for Miami and played in the majority of the Sun Bowl against Notre Dame, throwing for 282 yards, two scores and one pick. • RB Duke Johnson — In three starts at tailback, the 5-9, 188-pound freshman gained 248 yards and scored four touchdowns, averaging an astounding 9.2 yards per carry. Johnson also has eight catches for 85 yards and a score and a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD. • DL Shayon Green — The redshirt junior defensive end saw limited action in his first three years in Coral Gables, compiling eight tackles in just six games. This year, he has produced a team-best 23 tackles (1.5 for loss) and one pass broken up through three contests. • LB Denzel Perryman — The sophomore linebacker is off to another strong start, after earning Freshman All-America honors last year with his 69 stops, 6.5 tackles for loss and one sack. Through three games, he boasted 16 tackles and three stops behind the line of scrimmage, and he returned an interception 41 yards for a score against BC. For The Record • This will be the 12th time the programs have met when it is a home game for Notre Dame or at a neutral site. The Irish have lost to Miami just once under those circumstances, a 31-13 defeat in South Bend in 1984 when Notre Dame was ranked 17th and the Hurricanes were ranked 14th. • Back in 1979, Notre Dame knocked off Miami, 40-15, in the Mirage Bowl in Tokyo, Japan. It wasn’t actually a bowl game, but rather a regular-season contest. The Mirage, known as the Dodge Colt in the United States, was a four-cylinder car being heavily promoted by Mitsubishi at the time, but was discontinued in 2002. The Mirage Bowl was later renamed the Coca-Cola Classic before its run ended in 1993.

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