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Monday, June 23, 2014
ACC's lunchtime links

By David M. Hale

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel talked with Miami tailback Duke Johnson, who said he “feels 100 percent” after a devastating ankle injury suffered against Florida State last season that cost him the final five games of the season.

That’s good news for Miami fans, of course, although Johnson said he’s still toying with future rehab plans to help build strength in the ankle.

It goes without saying that Johnson is an integral part of the Hurricanes’ 2014 hopes, and perhaps no other offensive player in the ACC is as important to his team.

While healthy last season, Johnson accounted for 27 percent of Miami’s total offense and 58 percent of its rushing yards. Only Heisman finalist Andre Williams accounted for a higher percentage of his team’s rushing yards in the ACC.

More importantly, Miami’s ground game fell apart without Johnson. Before the injury, the Hurricanes averaged 5.4 yards per carry and ran the ball 37 times a game. After the injury, they mustered a mere 3.6 yards per rush and ran just 28 times per game. Total offense for Miami dipped nearly 80 yards per game without Johnson, and, of course, the Canes lost four of six games in which Johnson wasn’t healthy and on the field the whole time.

Add all that to a messy quarterback situation this fall, and even Johnson understands what it all means.

“Even if [injured quarterback Ryan Williams] was here, I’d do the same thing and put the pressure on myself, take the pressure off of him,” Johnson said. “Because that’s just what I do.”

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