Miami Football: Coach Golden's 5 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2013

Miami Football: Coach Golden's 5 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

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    The Miami Hurricanes football team concluded its sixth week of spring practice with the annual spring game at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday.

    Stephen Morris threw four touchdown passes and led the Orange to an easy 35-20 victory over the White.

    While Morris, Duke Johnson, the entire receiving corps and offensive line each showcased noticeable improvement, there were some glaring weaknesses on the field, too.

    Miami's season opener is at home against Florida Atlantic on August 30, so head coach Al Golden will focus on resolving these weaknesses over the summer.

    Here are Golden's five biggest concerns post-spring practice.

Backup Quarterback

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    A few weeks ago I made my complete prediction of who will win the backup quarterback battle for the 'Canes.

    I'm sticking to my guns with Williams, but it's not because he dominated the spring game. The junior transfer finished the day with a less-than-stellar stat line going 10-of-25 for 123 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

    Gray Crow had been receiving some confidence from Golden as The Miami Herald noted he was the clear No. 3 on the depth chart and battling Williams for the second-string job.

    But the redshirt freshman Crow went an unimpressive 2-of-8 for 50 yards and missed his target on more than a few throws.

    Last season's No. 3 QB, Preston Dewey, relieved Stephen Morris for one uninspired series in the second half, but Dewey didn't go under center again the rest of the day.

    After Saturday's showings, I'd be more concerned with keeping Morris healthy than relying on any backup.

Logjam on the Offensive Line

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    For Golden, this is a fantastic problem to have.

    The Hurricanes have a talented group of offensive linemen as evidenced by the solid protection of Morris on Saturday.

    Oh yeah, starters Shane McDermott and Brandon Linder were both injured this spring.

    Golden released his official post-spring practice depth chart, and it's full of talented players.

    Between McDermott, Linder, Seantrel Henderson, Malcolm Bunche, Ereck Flowers and Jon Feliciano, the 'Canes have six players with starting experience.

    Add in Jared Wheeler, Sunny Odogwu and the spring's Offensive Most Improved Player, Danny Isidora, and the offensive line is stacked.

Second-String Defensive Linemen

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    Defensive linemen for the Orange made an impact on Saturday by tallying three sacks and five tackles for loss.

    Luther Robinson (2) and Anthony Chickillo (1) recorded the sacks, and the duo of Shayon Green and Curtis Porter tallied a TFL, but the White didn't do much.

    Jalen Grimble slid through the Orange offensive line and hurried Morris on the first drive of the game, but that single play was the extent of the team's pressure.

    The four previously mentioned (and Olsen Pierre) are listed as starters or co-starters, so it's up to Kelvin Cain, Corey King, Jelani Hamilton and Grimble to provide Miami with depth.

    And as of right now, it looks like it will be a struggle.

Starting Cornerback

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    It's no surprise that Golden's depth chart has a few "-OR-" listings scattered throughout, but both cornerback positions are finalized that way.

    On one side, Ladarius Gunter and Tracy Howard are pitted against each other as Nate Dortch and Antonio Crawford compete opposite them.

    Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald tweeted that defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said he ran a "vanilla" man-to-man defense to gauge the abilities of his secondary, but to make a long story short, the receivers won.

    It's no doubt a testament to the talent of the 'Canes wideouts, but each corner provides a various skill set that isn't quite up to par yet.

    Miami allowed five 100-yard games to receivers and five more 70-plus yards in 2012, and while those games certainly happen on occasion, the Hurricanes need a vastly improved secondary this season.


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    Sophomore Matt Goudis is the clear front-runner for the placekicking duties, but he has very little game experience in college.

    He has a cannon for a leg, but his accuracy will be the question. Throughout the three spring scrimmages, Goudis compiled a decent 7-of-10 mark with a long of 49 yards twice.

    Game-situation kicks are much harder than practices, so there will always be an underlying concern until Goudis makes his first field goal this fall.


    Note: Punter would have been on this list, but Michael Casagrande of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports former Cincinnati punter Pat O'Donnell is transferring to Miami.

    O'Donnell averaged 41.8, 43.8 and 41.9 yards per kick during his three years as a full-time starter for the Bearcats.