Duke Johnson reminded everybody why he should be considered one of the best running backs in the nation against Florida Atlantic on Friday night.
There's no sophomore slump in sight.
Johnson followed up a dazzling freshman season with a spectacular debut to 2013, setting career highs with 19 carries for 186 yards and a touchdown in Miami's otherwise ho-hum 34-6 win over the Owls. He ripped off long runs with ease.
Consider: Johnson had seven plays of 35 or more yards in 2012. He had three before halftime.
Johnson was the hands-down highlight of the game as the Hurricanes ended up rushing for over 300 yards. But Johnson also was involved in the scariest moment of the game. After throwing a block on a reverse that Herb Waters ran in for a 63-yard touchdown in the third quarter, Johnson stayed down on the field, and doctors had to help him off.
He was given a concussion test and showed no symptoms but he stayed on the sideline for the remainder of the game. No disputing that decision, though you have to wonder what Johnson was doing throwing a block with his head down. It's doubtful that the Canes are going to want him to do that again.
Aside from Johnson, it was an uneven performance on offense. Miami had way too many drops early in the game, drops that should have resulted in touchdowns. Freshman Stacy Coley had two of them, one coming in the end zone. Coach Al Golden delivered quite the quote at halftime when he told ESPN's sideline reporter that he would tell Coley to "relax, bro." Miami also struggled on third down once again, an area Golden targeted for improvement this season.
As for the defense, it's simply too tough to tell how far this group has come given the opponent. What did stand out was that the Hurricanes got an immediate impact from the additions to its defensive line. David Gilbert, a transfer from Wisconsin, forced a fumble that the Canes converted into a touchdown. Miami also had much better success with its pass rush, an encouraging sign with Florida looming next week.