Miami Football: Duke Johnson Proves Offense Runs Through Him in Week 1 Win

Chris Bello@christianrbelloContributor IAugust 31, 2013

Duke Johnson ran for a career-high 186 yards in Miami's win over Florida Atlantic on Friday night.
Duke Johnson ran for a career-high 186 yards in Miami's win over Florida Atlantic on Friday night.Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

A year ago Duke Johnson played his first ever collegiate game at Boston College and carried seven times for 135 yards and two touchdowns.

The sophomore's second season opener proved equally as efficient. Johnson stole the show early and kept center stage for as long as he was in the game.

Florida Atlantic is no Boston College, but Johnson showed he's ready to build on his sensational freshman campaign, racking up a career-high 186 yards on 19 carries as the Hurricanes cruised past the Owls, 34-6.

Johnson's night ended prematurely—as a preventive measure—after throwing a block for sophomore wide receiver Herb Waters on a 63-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.

Ultimately, the benching proved No. 8's value to this Miami Hurricanes squad as UM struggled to find the end zone after his departure—even with consistent gimmie field position.

The nonchalant nature of Johnson's benching, along with the scrimmage atmosphere, permeated through a barren Sun Life Stadium all night, reminding the nation that this was just a tune up for tenth-ranked Florida next week. 

Tonight's goals were simple: shake off the cobwebs, remain (relatively) injury-free and get a win.

For the most part, that was accomplished and now it's full speed ahead regarding the highly-anticipated showdown against the rival Gators. 

Third-year head coach Al Golden and staff will take the win, but certainly have their work cut out for them before Florida visit next week. The Hurricanes never truly found a groove on Friday night, but muscled through their lesser hometown rival, courtesy of superior talent and overall speed.

Johnson and his offensive line’s dominant performances are a great sign with the Gators coming to town in eight days.

If the second-year back and the big boys up front can repeat this performance against Florida, it will take the pressure off Morris, who will be doing battle with one of the SEC's best secondaries every time he drops back and surveys the field.

Miami's first-ever meeting with Florida Atlantic won't rank as an "Instant Classic", but Johnson's performance certainly proved his overall value to this Miami squad. Similar to last year, when the Hurricanes needed a spark, Johnson ultimately provided one.

On Friday night, Morris and his bevy of receivers were plagued by drops and lacked their 2012 mojo. If this continues next week, even more pressure will fall on Johnson's shoulders.

Thankfully, it seems like the hard-working running back can handle it.