Position Reviews: How Did The Canes Perform Compared to Last Year?

Kevin Liles-US PRESSWIRE

State Of The U breaks down the performance of each position on the field, taking a look at comparisons to last year and what improved.

The off season of college football is a long one. Sure, recruiting helps fill the void, but nothing compares to game day and the excitement that Canes football brings. To help ease you into the post season, SOTU will be going through the position groups of this year's Hurricanes, and comparing them to the previous year's group. The purpose of this is to see how the team has changed, what improved, what didn't, and what to look forward to in 2013.

This one's all about the running backs, and good lawd did we have a few this year. Sure, we all knew more or less what we had in Mike James, but the aura surrounding the kid named Duke was already glowing brightly when he stepped onto campus, and he burst out of that mess with authority. Duke Johnson introduced himself in a big way against the lowly Eagles of Boston College, and he refused to let up the rest of the year. Before we jump into how the guys performed this year, let's take a look at the 2011 squad, who will be tough to beat in their own right.

2011 Stats CAR YDS AVG LONG TD
Lamar Miller 227 1272 5.6 79 9
Mike James 72 275 3.8 32 7
Eduardo Clements 15 82 5.5 22 1
Maurice Hagens 7 21 3.0 5 0

and the stats from this year:

2012 Stats CAR YDS AVG LONG TD
Duke Johnson 139 947 6.8 65 10
Mike James 147 621 4.2 25 6
Eduardo Clements 16 70 4.4 17 2
Dallas Crawford 6 23 3.8 8 0
Maurice Hagens 1 3 3.0 3 0

You can easily see that last year was more lopsided as far as the rushing attack is concerned. However, when you break the numbers down, the production between the two years was not all that different. In 2011, the backs totaled 1650 yards, while in 2012 they hit 1664. Last year, the rushing game accounted for 17 touchdowns, this year they accounted for 18. This year's squad had much more of a 2 headed monster between James and Johnson, while last year the unquestioned leader was Lamar Miller.

So did the running game improve by more than a few more yards and an extra touchdown? Well, yes and no. Miami has an unquestioned star in Duke Johnson, who will only get stronger and tougher with more years of work. Yet, they lose one of the greatest Canes to ever come through the school in Mike James. His loss hurts the team in a big way, as they currently do not have that big back to compliment Duke, unless you count Hagens (you don't.) Hopefully they bring in another young back with this year's recruiting class, otherwise the running game may not live up to what many think it should next year.

Guys like Clements and Crawford will be very nice pieces to have, but they have yet to truly reach their potential. Hagens is a bruiser, but is definitely more suited for blocking and the occasional safety net play for the QB. Danny Dillard may turn out to be a diamond in the rough, but until we see some legit work from him other than on the practice squad, he remains a wild card. The staff is looking into quite a few running backs for the 2013 class, and they will undoubtedly land one, so fans need not worry all that much. Will it be the perfect back for exactly what they need? Perhaps not. But adding another guy that will get some burn at the position and provide depth or perhaps a surprise starter is never a bad thing.

What are your thoughts on the running backs?

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