Lamar Miller is gone, but it appears the Miami Hurricanes will be just fine in the running game — that is unless its run defense is painfully lacking.
In the Hurricanes’ first scrimmage of fall camp Sunday, senior Mike James ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries, with three touchdowns, including what a UM report described as a “51-yard burst down the sideline, while outrunning three defenders.”
Adding to the impressive running show at Greentree Field was junior Eduardo Clements, with 55 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
But perhaps the biggest head-turner, given he is a true freshman, was running back Duke Johnson.
The recent Miami Norland High graduate, a 5-star recruit, rushed for 49 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries — a 5.4-yard-per-carry average. He also led all receivers with three catches for 44 yards, including a 37-yard dash on a screen pass from quarterback Stephen Morris, “eliciting several ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from teammates on some of his cutback moves,” according to UM’s post-scrimmage report.
Morris, a junior who likely will be named the starter in the next week, completed 24 of 36 passes for 193 yards, with one interception to end the scrimmage during a two-minute drill. Freshman defensive end Dwayne Hoilett batted the ball into the hands of linebacker Tyrone Cornileus.
Fellow quarterback Ryan Williams, a redshirt sophomore, also had a strong showing. Williams, who transferred from Memphis and ran the scout team offense last season, completed 12 of 17 passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns.
The scrimmage was not only closed to the media and general public, but also to former UM players and families of the current players.
Golden indicated that James, a senior, has taken his game to another level.
“He looks quicker, looks faster,” Golden said. “He has always been strong; last year was tough for him. He was hobbled with turf toe all year. He just looks different this year. Hopefully Mike will stay healthy and give us what we thought he would be.”
Golden said Johnson, with his “low center of gravity,” has a “knack for diving and getting in the end zone.”
Golden’s concern? The defensive line, and depth at linebacker, where the unit is ailing now with injuries to Eddie Johnson, Gionni Paul, and Jimmy Gaines just returning from injury.
“We’ve got to get one guy that can really dominate the game for us,” Golden said of the line.
The standouts on defense Sunday included Cornileus, linebacker Ramon Buchanan and freshman cornerback Tracy Howard, who each had seven tackles while safety A.J. Highsmith led the team with nine tackles.
Hoilett added three pass breakups while Cornileus, Anthony Chickillo and freshman JaWand Blue had a sack apiece.
Fifteen players had at least one reception, with fifth-year senior Kendal Thompkins grabbing a team-high five catches for 22 yards.
The Hurricanes have their first day off on Monday, but will continue with their third two-a-day session Tuesday morning.
“I’m not saying some guys aren’t going to come in the last week or so, but we’ll basically have the team set by… next week,” Golden said.