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Miami preview: Five things to watch

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: August 28, 2014 at 08:41 AM

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Here are five things to know about the Hurricanes going into this season, and a list of Tampa area players on the roster:

Duke's touches

The Hurricanes were leery about giving running back Duke Johnson too many touches the past two seasons, trying to preserve him. It doesn't appear that will be in the plans this fall. Johnson has made it clear that he wants to touch the ball as much as he can, and he is welcoming the challenge of seeing plenty of eight-man defensive fronts — which will likely be the norm until Miami's passing game proves itself.

Schedule

No favors for the Hurricanes here. Miami's 2013 season ended with a one-sided loss to Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl, and the Hurricanes open this season as the Cardinals' opponent for their ACC debut. The Hurricanes also visit No. 22 Nebraska and Virginia Tech, and they will get defending national champion No. 1 Florida State at home in November.

Defense concerns

The Hurricanes' defense has been on the field an average of 34 minutes per game over the past two seasons, the second-highest total among major college teams. It's vital that Miami get better on third downs, and that the gains made last year when the Hurricanes started embracing more of a 3-4 set carry over into this season. Otherwise, the same problems that plagued Miami in 2012 and 2013 will return quickly.

Deep ball

Miami had 10 receivers with catches of 25 or more yards last season. If defenses are going to be kept honest and not be able to stack the box against Duke Johnson, finding a way to keep the deep ball in the repertoire is crucial.

Chewing clock

Last season, the Hurricanes ranked 118th out of 123 schools in time of possession with an average of 25:58 per game. While big plays are fun, sustained drives help alleviate pressure on the defense. Improving a third-down conversion rate of 35.2 percent will be key.

TAMPA AREA PLAYERS ON ROSTER

No.

Name

P

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

School

71

Anthony Chickillo

DL

6-4

282

Sr.

Alonso

21

Antonio Crawford

DB

5-11

191

Jr.

Plant

13

Gray Crow

TE

6-3

235

So.

Countryside

26

Rayshawn Jenkins

DB

6-1

202

Jr.

A.Farragut

17

Tyriq McCord

LB

6-3

248

Jr.

Jefferson

72

Earl Moore

DL

6-1

304

Jr.

Hillsborough

16

Justin Vogel

P

6-4

210

So.

Berkeley

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