Miami Hurricanes

Miami’s defensive line coach leaves for opportunity with Oakland Raiders

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After five years of being a part of Al Golden‘s staffs with the Temple Owls and the Miami Hurricanes, Jethro Franklin is returning to the NFL.

SI.com’s Thayer Evans reported that Franklin will take over as defensive line coach for the Oakland Raiders as a part of Jack Del Rio‘s new staff.

It was simply too tempting of an offer for the position coach to turn down:

Prior to his stints under Golden, Franklin spent the 2009 campaign with the USC Trojans. It was his second stint with the Men of Troy but his first since 2005.

This won’t be Franklin’s first taste of the NFL, though.

From 2000-04, he guided the Green Bay Packers’ defensive line. There was also stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Houston Texans sandwiched between his stops at USC.

“I could not be happier for Jethro and his family,” Golden said in a statement, per the Miami Herald. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to work where he grew up and to join his father and family in Oakland. We can’t thank Jethro enough for everything he has done for our program.”

CFT Previews: Duck Commander Independence Bowl

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WHO: Miami (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6)
WHAT: The 39th Independence Bowl
WHERE: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET Dec. 27 on ABC
THE SKINNY: In a battle to see which team emerges with less of a disappointing season than the other, the underachieving South Carolina Gamecocks face the Miami Hurricanes in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl.

Both teams entered this season with aspirations of winning their divisions. Instead, both are 6-6 with one team leaving Shreveport, Louisiana with a record over .500.

Steve Spurrier‘s Gamecocks limped their way through a worse overall season. The program was expected to compete for the SEC East with the Georgia Bulldogs to eventually play in the SEC Championship Game. After finishing 11-2 the previous three seasons and opening the 2014 campaign ranked ninth overall, expectations remained sky high. Instead, the Gamecocks feel flat by losing five of their last eight games.

When South Carolina was successful, though, the Gamecocks offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. Running backs Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds combined for 1,494 rushing yards. Davis already stated he will leave Columbia after this year to join the NFL ranks. The junior will likely be showcased in his final game with the program.

Likewise, Miami’s best weapon is running back Duke Johnson. Johnson, who is also expected to leave Miami after this season for the NFL, is the barometer for the Hurricanes’ success. During a six-game stretch through the middle of the season, the running back ran for over 100 yards in each contest. Miami finished 4-2 during that stretch. The program is 2-4 in the games when Johnson ran for less than the century mark.

As the program’s all-time leading rusher, Johnson’s success is vital for Miami to emerge victorious.

But the Gamecocks can take over a game with its talented offensive line. Those big eaters up front should give South Carolina a slight advantage in a game that pits two of the nation’s most inconsistent teams against one another.

Spurrier succinctly summed up exactly what’s on the line, “They’re 6-6 just like us, so somebody is going to be a winner and someone is going to leave a loser. So, a lot on the line for this game.”

THE PREDICTION: South Carolina 24, Miami 21

Alonzo Highsmith shreds current state of Miami Hurricanes program

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Alonzo Highsmith played for the Miami Hurricanes from 1983 to 1986. He’s a proud alum of the school after playing for the program during its heyday.

Highsmith currently works as a scout for the Green Bay Packers, but he keeps a close eye on his alma mater.

According to former running back, the blame for a 6-6 season doesn’t fall on head coach Al Golden. Highsmith told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel‘s David Hyde that it’s a systematic problem that starts at the top of the university:

“Sometimes I think maybe the administration doesn’t want football to get back to the national brand. We’re where we want to be academically, climbing higher and higher. We don’t want football to be at the forefront. Let’s give them the minimal amount to play and put them in [Sun Life Stadium] on Saturday.

“That’s why I’m not dumping on Al Golden. I know, yeah, we’re never happy with 6-6. Never. But we’re not playing on the same level that all the teams in the playoff right now. We’re a lower-tier college trying to play big-boy football in the year 2014.

“We’ve been driving this same car 30-something years since I left. Now the tires are all flat. Now the paint is gone. But yet we keep putting new drivers in the same car — Al Golden, Randy Shannon — and expecting it to go the same 200 mph.”

More than any point in college football history, the sport is emerged in an arms race. It simply isn’t about recruiting the best talent anymore. Miami regularly signs talented recruiting classes. Programs around the nation are now trying to outdo each other in regards to facilities, uniforms and all of the ancillary aspects of a football team.

As Highsmith pointed out, Miami lags in the these areas, and he’s trying to raise money to upgrade each of them.

It starts with a 27-year old stadium that the Hurricanes can’t fill. The practice field is below par. Highsmith said renovations are desperately needed, and the program can’t continue to live off its past success:

“Our problem is the foundation and the direction of the program. Are we going to reinvest in it? Don’t tell me this bull crap about, ‘We won in the past like this.’ That’s like Richard Petty trying to win with race cars he ran 30 years ago. You can’t do it.”

“If we don’t fix what’s ailing this program right now, 10 years from now, we could be where FIU and those programs are. If we don’t fix this foundation, it won’t matter who’s coaching.”

And that pretty much sums up the problems at “The U.”

Ground and pound: Hurricanes establish identity during 30-6 victory over Hokies

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The Miami Hurricanes made a statement Thursday against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

While the program may never return to the winning ways it once experienced while Al Golden is at the helm, the program finally gravitated toward an identity that’s long been forgotten. The vaunted Miami teams from the 1980’s and the early 2000’s used to physically dominate opponents. They did that Thursday night in Blacksburg.

Miami (5-2) captured a dominant 30-6 victory over Virginia Tech (4-4).

When Golden was the head coach of Temple from 2006-10, the Owls climbed their way out of football purgatory by running the football effectively week in and week out. The talent level at Miami supersedes anything Golden had at Temple, but the team’s approach against the Hokies was reminiscent of those Owls.

There was nothing fancy about what Miami did to Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes lined up and jammed the ball down the Hokies’ collective throat. Two running backs combined to run for an impressive 364 yards.

Junior running back Duke Johnson ran like a man possessed. Johnson set a career high with 249 rushing yards on 29 carries.

Sophomore Gus Edwards took over in the second half and managed 115 yards.

The Hurricanes were so dominant in the trenches, freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya was only asked to throw the ball 16 teams. He completed seven of those passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.

Plus, Miami played well on the defensive side of the football.

The Hurricanes shut out the Hokies through the first half of play, before Virginia Tech decided to ride freshman running back Marshawn Williams. Willams carried the ball 21 times for 100 yards. The young back also fumbled twice.

With the ACC Coastal division being wide open, the Hurricanes may have found its identity at the right time. At 2-2 in the division, Miami is now a half game behind the Duke Blue Devils going into this weekend’s games. But Miami holds the head-to-head edge.

If Miami plans to make a run in their division, its ball-control offense will be needed over the next two weeks against the North Carolina Tar Heels and No. 2 Florida State Seminoles.

Miami RB Duke Johnson explodes as Miami leads Virginia Tech 24-0 at halftime

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Welcome to the Duke Johnson show.

The Virginia Tech Hokies simply had no answer for Miami’s running back. Johnson accumulated 185 total yards through two quarters of play as the Hurricanes lead the Hokies 24-0 at halftime.

Miami came into Thursday night’s contest with the intention of establishing the run game, and Al Golden‘s squad did so in spectacular fashion.

As the Hurricanes dominated an undersized Virginia Tech defensive front, Johnson continued to churn out yardage. The junior running back accumulated 148 rushing yards on 19 carries.

The dagger at the end of the first half also came from the running back.

Already leading 17-0, Miami drove the ball to Virginia Tech’s 22-yard line with the clocking ticking within 15 seconds remaining before the horn for halftime blew. With the clock still running, the Hurricanes snapped the ball and freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya found Johnson open out of the backfield for his second touchdown in the half.

While the Hurricanes’ offense running all over the Hokies, Miami’s defense completely shut down the Hokies’ rushing attack. Virginia Tech ran the ball eight times for minus-13 yards.

Because of the Hokies’ inept running game, quarterback Michael Brewer suffered. When forced to throw, Brewer couldn’t step up and make a play. Virginia Tech’s signal-caller finished the half 7-of-12 passing for 49 yards.

The Hokies should expect the same approach from the Hurricanes in the second half. Golden may decide to lighten Johnson’s load (after he establishes a new career high), but Virginia Tech will then get a steady dose of sophomore Gus Edwards.

If Frank Beamer‘s squad has any chance of coming back in tonight’s game, Brewer must take his game to another level. That may be asking too much of the junior quarterback.