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

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.

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

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.

When we previewed the corner backs before the 2012 season, we knew that the group was going to perform better than expected. The Canes were deep at the position, with talent at all class levels. There was just no way that they would be completely terrible. We had proven guys like Brandon McGee, up and comers like Thomas Finnie, and talented new guys like Tracy Howard. Would they be world beaters? Likely not, but they certainly would be capable.

So just how capable were they? Well, at face value, they certainly did not perform exactly like we all had hoped. A lot of that, however, had to do with the fact that opponents were free to pass on us at will, since we had nobody in the backfield to stop them. At stat value, though? Let's take a look starting with 2011:

2011 STATS INTs Tackles TFL PBU
Lee Chambers 0 15 0 1
Thomas Finnie 0 14 1 1
Nathan Gholston 0 4 0 0
Davon Johnson 0 3 0 0
Brandon McGee 1 38 2.5 2
Mike Williams 0 29 2 3
TOTALS 1 103 5.5 7

And for 2012:

2012 STATS INTs Tackles TFL PBU
Antonio Crawford 0 7 0 0
Thomas Finnie 1 30 0 3
Ladarius Gunter 1 27 1 6
Tracy Howard 0 17 0 4
Brandon McGee 2 54 4 7
TOTALS 4 135 5 20

As you can clearly see, the 2012 corners were markedly better than the ones from the previous year. Of course, with the type of production that 2011 got, it would be hard not to top them. Brandon McGee was the head of the class in both years, and quietly had a surprisingly fantastic career. Did he live up to the hype he brought with him from high school? Maybe not, but he certainly was not a bust.

Tracy Howard looked like he was clearly learning through the first part of the season, but turned it on late and started to show flashes of the player he is supposed to be. He will need to step up and be the leader of this group next year with Finnie likely not returning to the team (no word on that yet, but it would be pretty surprising to say the least if he does come back.) Crawford showed promise as well, but also showed that he needed to work on a few things. His speed is ridiculous, but the technique still escapes him.

There were of course a few guys who did not play, instead they red-shirted so they could learn. Larry Hope and Nate Dortch figure to be a big part of the defensive game plan next year. With guys coming in like Artie Burns (could play corner or safety, if I had my way he would be across from Howard and Jamal Carter would be opposite Deon Bush) and Ray Lewis III (could potentially play corner, although that is yet to be decided), and hopefully that Robinson kid from LSU, the backfield will again be loaded with young talent.

Thoughts on how these guys played?