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Quick Thoughts: Miami Spring Game

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Sophomore running back Duke Johnson and the Miami offense, thought to be the more talented unit, dominated the spring game against a vanilla defensive scheme. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images.
Sophomore running back Duke Johnson and the Miami offense, thought to be the more talented unit, dominated the spring game against a vanilla defensive scheme. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images.

Although the regular season is more than four months away, the Hurricanes’ spring game confirmed what most fans believe the strengths and the weaknesses of the team will be in 2013.

The offense has a multitude of weapons that can put up points in a flash, but the defense remains a work in progress. Both perceptions were confirmed as the Orange team topped the White, 35-20, in an entertaining affair in front of approximately 8,000 fans at Sun Life Stadium.

The offense clicked as much as it did in the 2012 season finale, a 52-45 win against Duke. Quarterback Stephen Morris appeared comfortable, but his accuracy was fleeting. He made several impressive throws in tight coverage, especially on the first drive, then missed open receivers. He finished 13 of 23 for 256 yards on the afternoon, Reserves Ryan Williams and Gray Crow both struggled and largely limited their throws to check-downs. Preston Dewey and Garrison Lassiter also saw action at quarterback.

Standout tailback Duke Johnson appeared in midseason form, rushing for more than 100 yards on just 10 carries. Johnson is strong for his size and has the ability to push a pile forward. Reserve back Dallas Crawford also looked good when he received solid blocking.

Rashawn Scott and Herb Waters made big plays at the wide receiver position, as well as redshirt freshman Jontavious Carter, but the game featured plenty of plays to tight ends. New offensive coordinator James Coley spent five years as a TE coach for rival Florida State, so this should come as little surprise.

The offensive line was solid, particularly in pass blocking. This was the case last year and it was nice to see it carry over into the spring. Morris had ages to throw and rarely felt pressure.

It’s probably not fair to judge the defense based on a loosely-organized spring game. The schemes were scaled back to as basic as possible and Morris had no problem diagnosing what he saw. Denzel Perryman will grab the headlines for his two-interception performance. Anthony Chickillo was able to get pressure on the quarterback throughout the afternoon, which will be vital once the season starts and the secondary is put to the test. Malcolm Lewis’ score resembled plenty of bombs the Hurricanes gave up in 2013 and this will have to be fixed if any improvement will be made on last year's horrific pass defense.

It was nice to see some of the swag back at Miami. Although things like Gino Torretta’s pass to Andre Johnson and Morris’ pass to  Lewis (although it took three tries) might seem a little tacky to some, after all of the negativity that has surrounded the program, the bright spots of a sunny spring game were a welcome change.