The Miami Hurricanes will head into the 2013 with concerns on the defensive side once again. Although the talent is there, no one really has any idea how improved one of the worst defenses in the country will actually be.
That being said, if the defense is unable to stop anyone's offense again, the Hurricanes will need to rely on the arm of senior quarterback Stephen Morris to win games.
Here are five games in which Miami may need to rely on Morris' arm to bail it out of close games.
I know that Pittsburgh lost starting quarterback Tino Suneri and running back stud Ray Graham on offense, but the Panthers will return nine starters on defense. The same unit that allowed just 137 yards per game last season.
Last season the Panthers limited Syracuse, who came into the game averaging just over 190 rushing yards per game, to just 120 yards on 33 carries.
This game is also the last of the season for Miami and will be played in Pittsburgh. With concerns on Miami's defensive line and quite possibly the health of questionable running back depth, the Hurricanes may need to rely on Stephen Morris more then they would want to.
When Miami faced Georgia Tech last season, the Hurricanes couldn't stop the Yellow Jackets vaunted triple-option allowing 287 yards on the ground. The Hurricanes had to rely on Stephen Morris as he threw for 436 yards and two touchdowns as Miami beat Georgia Tech 42-36 in overtime.
This upcoming season should be more of the same, especially if the Canes' defense hasn't improved much from last season. Georgia Tech returns eight starters on offense and will undoubtedly run 95 percent of the time.
The Yellow Jackets allowed 229 passing yards per game last season, setting up Morris to have another big game through the air.
This one is a no-brainer as the Florida Gators will have one of the best rush defenses in the entire country this upcoming season. Yes, the Gators only return five players on the defensive side of the ball, but they rebuild that defense every season and this year won't be any different.
Last year the Gators finished the season ranked No. 4 in the country in rushing defense, allowing just 95 yards per game. Opposing offenses gained just 2.9 yards per carry.
The Gators defensive line will be big and fast, so Morris will need to be able to throw the ball to beat Florida. I'm not saying that Morris needs to throw for over 350 yards to beat the Gators, but it may come down to the passing game late in the contest.
Much like the Gators, Florida State's defense should be one of the best in the country once again. Last season the Seminoles finished with the third-best rushing defense in the country, allowing just 92 yards per game.
Last year the Hurricanes mustered just 29 rushing yards against the stout Seminoles defense, losing 33-20 at home. Morris was hurt in this game and still finished with 229 passing yards.
If Morris is healthier going into this game, there is no doubt he can finish with over 300 yards passing and a few touchdowns—and the Canes may just need him to do just that.
This one was kind of questionable to me. The Hurricanes rushed for 180 yards last year against the Tar Heels but still lost 18-14. North Carolina returns nine starters on defense and could certainly limit the Canes from having the same type of numbers this season.
North Carolina always plays Miami tough, and this season shouldn't be any different. I think the Tar Heels' defensive line will provide a tough challenge to the Canes running backs, meaning Morris will have to win this game through the air.
Morris struggled last year against the Tar Heels defense, completing just 12-of-26 passes for 155 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Morris will look to get revenge this upcoming season, and Miami may just need him to do that.