clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2013 Russell Athletic Bowl Opponent Breakdown: Miami Backfield

Miami was forced to finish the season without star running back Duke Johnson. Can Stephan Morris and company make enough plays against a stout Louisville defense?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Miami's offense took a monumental blow a few weeks ago when stud running back Duke Johnson broke his ankle against FSU. With Johnson out, Miami's offense has become more reliant on the arm of Stephen Morris and big plays by it's receivers. The cupboard is far from bare at running back, but it's nearly impossible to replace a guy on the level of Duke.


Louisville has somewhat lucked out this year as they have faced a handful of young and inexperienced play callers. Stephen Morris is far from that. Morris is a senior with plenty of starts under his belt. He is a NFL talent that can absolutely wow you with some of his throws. He can also make you scratch your head with some of his decision making. Outside of Blake Bortles, Morris is the best quarterback Louisville will face this year. He has the size. He has the arm strength. He has the "escapability". He also, unfortunately, has the history of turning the ball over. Louisville has pounced on mistakes this year and Morris has to protect the ball to be effective Saturday.

Miami's offensive line has done a good job keeping Morris upright this season. Morris is far from being a running quarterback, but he isn't a statue at all. He can use his legs to buy himself time and he does a great job of keeping his composure when facing one man pressure. His issues sometimes stem from the times when he's seeing multiple defenders as well as constant pressure. That's when the bad decisions seem to happen. The happy feet start and the rushed throws come out. Louisville's blitz might not have to get to Morris, but it will have to rush him.

Ryan Williams is a more than capable backup after transferring from Memphis a few years back. Williams started as a true freshman there and has been the primary backup at Miami since arriving on campus. He's had plenty of game experience and has looked good when given the opportunity to throw the ball. If Morris were to go down, Williams wouldn't be a ridiculous drop off from the starter.


It's impossible to overstate just how much Duke Johnson meant to this offense. Duke averaged 115 yards a game rushing and he was an absolute workhorse. His ability to affect a defense have been missed over the last handful of games. Teams were forced to bring an extra guy in the box before the injury. Now the respect for the running game has dulled and the offense hasn't been able to utilize the deep ball as often.

Dallas Crawford isn't Duke, but he's also no slouch. Crawford is a stout guy that knows how to run behind his pads and he has good speed once he gets to the open field. He had been the goal-line back all year and he is adept at catching the ball out of the backfield. So durability and experience isn't an issue. To be honest, he's just not as talented as the guy he's replacing. Of course that's extremely obvious and it's no knock on him at all. You don't score 13 touchdowns by accident. Crawford has a knack for getting stuffed at the line or losing yardage. He will have to avoid that against a veteran defensive front. Louisville tends to feed off of negative plays and Miami's offense needs to stay out of long yardage situations.

Eduardo Clements and Gus Edwards are the only backs behind Crawford going into the bowl game. Clements was a highly regarded back coming out of high school but injuries have limited his game experience over his career. Edwards is a monster back that just flat out runs over people. Edwards could be utilized in short yardage runs to keep Crawford from taking too many hits.