JT Thompson (aka CaneGrad05) Follow on Twitter
2011 Evaluation: On an individual level, Lamar Miller had one of the finest seasons in Miami Hurricanes history. What’s remarkable is that he did so as a sophomore in an offense that ran 200 plays less in 2011 than in 2010. Mike James got off to a slow start this season with some early fumbles. However, he had a couple of bright games, particularly Virginia Tech. Eduardo Clements also emerged as a valuable third down back for the Canes. We didn’t see much of him actually running the ball, but he definitely was depended upon by this Canes coaching staff. As a unit, the running game struggled, averaging a mere 145 yards per game. Is this due to the OL or the RB? My guess – both. For the running backs part, Miller dances A LOT, and while the backups do not dance, they are not as talented.
Who Returns: The biggest question of the off-season is whether or not Lamar Miller will return. I do not think it’s likely, but make no mistake, the impact of his return would be immeasurable for the Canes. If he does not return, the Canes will rely on Mike James and Eduardo Clements. Maurice Hagens is valuable starting fullback. Darion Hall is an unknown quantity. CJ Holton is listed as a running back on the depth chart, but has yet to see action.
On The Way: A potential superstar exists in this class, as Duke Johnson is one of the most highly sought after recruits in the country. While he’s a bit undersized, leading some to think he could also play cornerback, with no Lamar Miller, Duke has the chance to play from Day 1 at running back. As you can see from the chart, Danny Dillard is all over the place in his evaluations. Miami is still pursuing some kids that could play running back, such as Wes Brown. However, I would be surprised if another RB lands in this class at this time.
2012 Outlook: With Lamar Miller returning, this would be a strength of the team. Without him, the Canes are in trouble UNLESS the OL returns to being a mauling unit on the ground as they were in 2010. In listening to Al Golden, he clearly wants his team to get physically stronger. The translation to the running game, I would think, is more “see the hole, hit the hole hard, and fall forward” which is reminscent of what Damien Berry did for the Canes in 2010. I think James and Clements are perfect examples of this, and what we should expect to see without Lamar Miller. I also am a fan of the Duke Johnson/Danny Dillard recruiting combo at RB. Dillard is a “big” running back, which will be a nice compliment to Duke for the future. Of all positions, you can usually tell very early on if a running back has “it.” I don’t think James or Clements will be homeruns, but if we can get something out of Duke next year, we could still maintain a dynamic running game.