Miami Football: 5 Biggest Holes in the Roster Canes Must Fill for 2013
The good news regarding the 2013 Hurricanes football season is the plethora of talent coming back for Miami. The bad news is even though the Canes are only missing two starters, there are plenty of holes to fill, especially on defense.
The Hurricanes finished the 2012 season with one of the worst defenses in the country, ranking No. 116 (out of 120) in total defense, they need multiple players to step up to help correct the issue.
The offensive side of the ball should be OK for the most part as the only player missing will be running back Mike James.
Here are my five biggest holes to fill on the Canes' 2013 roster.
There is no doubt in my mind that the biggest improvement needs to come from the defensive line next year, starting with the tackles.
The Hurricanes do return both starters, but that is far from being acceptable as the tackle position was one of the biggest reasons why the Hurricanes struggled last season.
Olsen Pierre and Curtis Porter will most likely be at the top of the depth chart heading into next season, but with as poor as the tackles played last season it should be a free-for-all on who actually earns it.
Pierre started all 11 of the games he played in but truly wasn't much of factor finishing with just 27 tackles (five for losses), 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. Besides the forced fumbles, Pierre will need to improve every aspect of his game.
Porter on the other hand could be the big difference-maker if he is able to stay healthy. Last season, Porter missed a lot of games due to appendicitis, but he has the athletic ability and size to help out the tackle position.
The problem with Porter is he is entering his junior season playing in just 15 games. Hopefully all the injury issues will be resolved and we see him on the field for all 12 games.
The depth at tackle should improve with so many underclassmen getting game experience last season, but we won't really know until they get on the field.
Corey King, Earl Moore and Luther Robinson combined to play in 31 games last season. All of them must improve or we may see another horrible season from the Hurricanes defense.
Although the defensive end position is loaded with tremendous talent, the unit as a whole underachieved last season.
Shayon Green was the only bright spot on the line last year finishing with a team-high 67 tackles and three quarterback hurries. Green was honestly the only reason the Canes' defense wasn't dead-last in total defense.
What the Hurricanes need is for Anthony Chickillo to step up and improve over a mediocre sophomore season. He looked very promising in his freshman campaign in 2011 finishing with 38 tackles (6.5 for loss) and five sacks in just nine starts.
Last season Chickillo didn't make any progress finishing the 2012 season with 45 tackles (6.5 for loss) and four sacks. I honestly expected Chickillo to have 70-plus tackles (at least 15 for loss) and around 10 sacks last season, but he didn't live up to expectations.
Although Green and Chickillo will most likely be the starting ends next season, the backups need to improve and give these two some rest.
Tyriq McCord played admirably in his freshman season ending with 15 tackles (3.5 for loss), 3.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries in limited action. If McCord can add more bulk to his frame (6'3", 236 pounds), he could see a lot more time on the field and even fight for a starting position next season.
The Hurricanes not only lost their best cornerback (Brandon McGee), but may also be without the services of Thomas Finnie, who recently got in trouble with the law and was suspended indefinitely from the team.
Finnie struggled at times last year but did finish the season with 30 tackles, six pass breakups and an interception. Still, the Hurricanes cannot afford losing any more upperclassmen in the defensive backfield.
Although the possibility of losing Finnie may hurt the depth of next year's cornerback position, it will be much harder filling the shoes of McGee.
McGee struggled for the first three years at Miami, but had a very good senior season finishing with 54 tackles (four for losses), a sack, seven pass breakups and led the team with two interceptions.
There is plenty of talent on the roster that could fill the position starting, but when all of them being young and inexperienced, it's hard to say who will actually fill the shoes left by McGee.
Tracy Howard looks to be the front-runner, but will need to improve after a subpar 17-tackle, four-pass breakup freshman season.
I know many of you (including me) wanted Jake Wieclaw to ride pine during a stretch last season in which he missed five out of six field goals.
Good thing head coach Al Golden didn't listen to us.
Wieclaw turned it around after hitting just one of two against Notre Dame and ended the season making 11 out of his last 12 attempts. With Wieclaw graduating, all focus will turn to redshirt freshman Matt Goudis.
Goudis, who has yet to kick at the college level, has a very good leg and should be a worthy candidate to fill the shoes of Wieclaw.
I know that the Hurricanes are returning their best running back in Duke Johnson, but that doesn't mean they won't miss Mike James.
James finished the season with 621 yards rushing and six touchdowns while catching another 30 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns.
What that means is Duke will get his opportunity to become the primary back while Eduardo Clements, Dallas Crawford and most likely Danny Dillard will have to pick up the slack.
Clements the most experienced out of the three with 39 rushes for 184 yard but never really got the opportunity to shine with Duke, Lamar Miller and Mike James ahead of him. He is a great athlete with good quickness and should be able to get more opportunities next season.
Crawford finally got a chance last season but carried just six times for 23 yards. He is a quick-hitting running back that has the potential to be a big playmaker.
Dillard never played a down last season but is a very big back (6'2", 225 pounds) with decent speed. He could give the Hurricanes a different type of the threat from Clements, Duke and Crawford.
No matter who gets the backup role will need to vastly improve to allow Duke to get rest in without the team having to suffer.