Friday, November 16, 2012
ACC: Who will transform tomorrow?
By Andrea Adelson
So who is going to transform tomorrow with a huge game in Week 12?
Miami running back Duke Johnson.
After his eye-popping school-record 368-yard day against Virginia a week ago, Johnson is the front-runner to win ACC Rookie of the Year honors. He is going against a USF defense that has struggled throughout this season, and has major depth concerns in the secondary as well. If he breaks a tackle and hits the open field, it could be lights out.
USF coaches are well aware of what he has done. Coach Skip Holtz has talked all week about limiting Miami's big-play capability. Defensive backs coach Rick Smith told The Tampa Bay Times, "He’s a deep concern for us. We need to tackle him before we’re chasing him, because if we end up chasing him, we ain’t gonna catch him."
Johnson now has 1,688 all-purpose yards this season, ranking third on Miami’s single-season list, passing Edgerrin James, Graig Cooper, Chuck Forman, Santana Moss and Lamar Miller. He trails only Ottis Anderson (1,703) and Willis McGahee (2,108).
If you want to delve deeper into the big-play capability, Johnson has 11 of the Hurricanes' 16 longest plays this season:
- Johnson has Miami’s six longest kickoff returns – 95 (TD), 95 (TD), 81, 77, 59 and 46.
- Johnson also owns Miami’s six longest rushing plays – 65, 56 (TD), 54 (TD), 52, 32 and 28 (TD).
- He has a team-best 21 plays of 25 or more yards, including six for touchdowns.
Though USF ranks No. 7 in the Big East in total defense, the Bulls have done a good job of limiting big plays. They haven't allowed a play longer than 50 yards all season. They have not allowed a touchdown off a kickoff or punt return this year, either. Still, USF has not played anybody as good as Johnson all year.
The challenge to stop him is a huge one.