It's about time for the tie to be unleashed in South Florida.
Ready to enter his third regular season as head coach of the University of Miami football team, Al Golden has one final month to prepare his squad for the 2013 opener.
While principal players like Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson are locked in for Florida Atlantic, other starting positions, backup roles and rotations must be determined and set.
These battles will take place during fall practice, which kicked off last Saturday. Golden was extremely pleased with the improved bulk of the team saying "We got some size, baby!" as noted by Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald.
Excitement is in the South Florida air, but there are still plenty of things Golden must accomplish during fall camp before FAU comes to Sun Life Stadium on August 30th.
Morris is clearly the starter, but is Williams the backup?
What if something happens to Stephen Morris?
Followers of the Hurricanes certainly dread the thought, but it is still a subject that needs to be addressed.
Morris escaped a major injury in 2012, but he turned an ankle against North Carolina, and it affected him the following week vs. Florida State—both of which resulted in a loss.
Junior Ryan Williams and redshirt freshman Gray Crow have been battling for the backup job since the spring, and the two are the most legitimate contenders. Competitor Preston Dewey has not participated in the first two practices according to Susan Miller Degnan, of The Miami Herald.
Even if expected-redshirt Kevin Olsen only gets a few reps, Golden has plenty of options for the second-string shot-caller.
Clements is looking to have a productive senior campaign.
Similar to the quarterback position, the starting running back spot is safe. After sharing carries with Mike James in 2012, Duke Johnson has bulked up and is ready to carry the load this year.
But as for the backup job, Eduardo Clements, after undergoing neck surgery during the offseason, is officially a "full-go" at practice, according to Navarro.
Along with Clements, Dallas Crawford is a leading candidate for the second-string spot. Crawford carried the ball just six times in 2012, but he has a positive attitude no matter his role on the team, as noted by Miller Degnan last year: “I don’t care if I don’t get any [carries], as long as we win. That’s all I care about.”
Gus Edwards and Danny Dillard are also getting reps, so the 'Canes have suitable depth at running back but not a lot of experience behind Johnson.
Johnson returned two kicks for touchdowns in 2012.
Golden acknowledged Duke Johnson will be returning kicks according to The Miami Herald, but the amount of times per game is not known.
It is entirely likely that Johnson is set to return every kick, but there are constant whispers of Johnson occasionally being rested during special teams in favor of his starting running back duties.
If Johnson is, in fact, held back from some kicks, Phillip Dorsett is no stranger to the return game, and newcomers Stacy Coley and Artie Burns are prepared to contribute, as well.
Another name thrown around is Jamal Carter, but a video posted by Michael Casagrande, of the South Florida Sun Sentinel does not show Carter working on kick-receiving. The clips do, however, indicate that Dallas Crawford and Antonio Crawford are working on kick returns, too.
Ultimately, the 'Canes have a plethora of speed, so Golden has an interesting decision to make.
Green and Chickillo must be more disruptive this season.
Defensive captain Shayon Green and highly-touted Anthony Chickillo will lead the ‘Canes linemen in the trenches, but, ultimately, the D-line is a revolving door.
Curtis Porter and Luther Robinson may be the veteran players, but others such as Olsen Pierre, Jalen Grimble and Earl Moore have 12-plus games of experience, too.
Pending transfers David Gilbert, Ufomba Kamalu, Justin Renfro and Ernest Settles could each contribute immediately, so to say the ‘Canes lack depth is blatantly false.
To say the defensive line has a lot to improve, however, is absolutely true. Translating depth into production is the goal for this season, and fall camp is where players can separate themselves from their teammates.
Whether or not we know which players will be used at specific scenarios, quite frankly, is unimportant, but Golden and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio must start to figure out the rotation, regardless.
Al Golden and Malcolm Lewis shared a tear-jerking moment after Lewis' 2012 injury vs. Georgia Tech.
While injuries should never be wished on anyone, the reality is that they are simply a part of football. Bumps and bruises are to be expected, and if a player does not have a few dings, there may be something wrong.
But sometimes, as we all know, the injury is more severe and can sideline a member of the team for an extended period of time. Miller Degnan reported Danny Isidora, a redshirt freshman offensive guard, has a broken foot.
Avoiding a major mishap would be fantastic for a team that has a legitimate chance to win its first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference title.
With that being said, Golden can respond to any injury, such as Isidora’s unfortunate event, with a simple message:
Next man up. "Full Speed Ahead."