Originally posted on CaneInsider  |  Last updated 7/7/13
Miami, FL-  As the 2013 college football season approaches, fans across the country are starting to make predictions on how their favorite team will perform. After a seven win and five loss season last year, the Miami Hurricanes are hoping for a different outcome in 2013. Under the shadow of being investigated by the NCAA for improper benefits to former players, the Miami Hurricanes football team was playing last year not knowing the fate of their future. Although they still played to win, at the end of the season Head Coach Al Golden and the University decided to self impose punishment by disqualifying themselves from the 2013 ACC Championship Game. Fast forward about six months later, UM still does not know what sanctions will come after the NCAA investigation. The common feeling of what will come is not nearly as serious as compared to what people thought it would be when the investigation started, due to the improper collection of evidence by the NCAA.  Another bowl ban at the end of 2013? Most think not. A loss of scholarships over the next few years is what is expected, but you never know. Coming into the season, the Canes will not only want to regain their right to play in the ACC Championship, but to actually win the title of ACC Champion for the first time since joining the conference in 2004. The following are 10 factors that will decide the success of the Hurricanes 2013 football season: Defense is the key to the 2013 season. Only losing 2 starters on defense (Brandon McGee and Eddie Johnson) inexperience can not be the excuse for letting teams get 30+ points a game this year. In 2012 Miami placed dead last in the following categories in the ACC: rushing, passing and total defense. Defensive Coordinator Mark D’onofrio  has some more weapons on defense to work with after the 2012 recruiting class comes in. Even if the defense can be average or “medium” it will make a difference in the upcoming season. Duke Johnson needs to avoid the “sophomore slump”. Last year he split the playing time with senior running back Mike James, but with James moving on to the NFL, Johnson is working on becoming an every down running back. In 2012 Johnson rushed for 947 yards, as an every down back this year he needs to exceed that by a couple hundred yards. If the Miami coaching staff decides not to use him on special teams as much, his presence will be missed. The returns for touchdowns is a big momentum pull for Miami, hopefully one of the young speedsters they throw back there can have the same success. Stephen Morris is a senior and needs to play like it in 2013. Not only play like a senior, but act like one as well. Be the leader the team needs, less mental errors and make his young teammates around him better. Morris is not losing ANY starters on the offensive side of the ball. His connection with his elite lineup of receivers and experienced offensive line should be perfect. The University of Miami is pushing for his Heisman candidacy as well, looks like they’re expecting a huge final season for him at The U. New Offensive Coordinator  Coach James Coley has superior line up of athletes on the offensive side of the ball to work with. He needs to use them accordingly. Coley will also be calling the plays for the Canes for the first time since his offensive coordinator days at FIU in 2007. With the squad that he has, he needs to take a more aggressive approach to the offense and play less conservatively. Also being the quarterbacks coach, his connection with Stephen Morris is vital to a successful season. Anthony Chickillo has to have his breakout year. Not only for UM to succeed but also if he wants to make it to the next level. His freshman year in 2011 he totaled 5 sacks, his sophomore year  (last year) he dropped to 4 sacks. For  his Junior year, 4 sacks won’t cut it. His size doesn’t really compliment his speed to make him an elite defensive end, but reports are saying he has dropped a decent amount of weight. Miami Hurricanes Sophomore Running Back Duke Johnson The Florida game on September 7th can be a huge momentum push for the Canes early in the season. The Florida Gators are not only one of Miami’s most hated rivals but also a top contender in SEC conference. If Miami can beat them early in the season at home, the attitude going forward will be that they can beat anybody. Momentum to the maximum. The goal for the 2013 Miami Hurricanes season is an ACC championship. In order to get there, they must get past the other ACC Coastal Division contender North Carolina. They will go head to head with the Tar Heels on October 17th in Chapel Hill. This single game alone can make or break the season and most know that the Canes don’t have the best luck playing on their turf. Linebackers Denzel Perryman and Freshman phenom Alex Figueroa have to be able to stuff the run this year. After finishing dead last in rushing yards against in the ACC last year, there is only room to improve. Figueroa has big shoes to fill after losing Eddie Johnson who was kicked off the team. The down field passes completed against UM last year killed the team, especially on 3rd downs. Critics can point fingers at the young backfield all they want, but the amount of time the quarterback had to get it to him was a big part of the issue. The pass rush is critical on 3rd downs to get the defense off the field more in 2013. The key players for this are Tyriq McCord and freshman Al-Quadin Muhammad. Special teams once again need to be special. The options on kick return are never-ending with the speed on the team. If Duke Johnson gets his role taken away on special teams it can be filled by freshman like Stacey Coley or Artie Burns. Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett is expected to keep his job as kick/punt return man. With the weapons Miami is equipped with, they should be able to meet or even pass the level of success the Canes had last year in special teams. The post Miami Hurricanes 2013 Football Season: 10 Factors appeared first on CaneInsider | Miami Hurricanes Athletics and Recruiting.
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