As unfair and unfortunate as Ryan Williams' ACL injury is for the Miami quarterback, it might also usher in a new era for the Hurricanes.
Williams, the Memphis transfer who was slotted to start this year as Stephen Morris' successor, will have surgery on his right knee this week, according to assistant athletic director Chris Yandle.
Miami senior QB Ryan Williams suffered an ACL injury to his right knee Friday night. He will undergo surgery next week. #Canes— Chris Yandle (@ChrisYandle) April 5, 2014
There's no timetable for Williams' return, but depending on the severity of the injury and recovery time, Williams could be sidelined for part, if not all, of the 2014 season. There's really no way to know how it will impact Williams' season until he begins rehabbing.
For what it's worth, a university email to Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald confirmed that Williams' injury was non-contact. That's typically not a great sign.
In the meantime, that puts the first-team reps on redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen. With just two practices left until Miami's spring game on Saturday, there's not much time for separation in the quarterback competition.
However, Olsen was the next in line behind Williams, and now is as good a time as any to see what Olsen is made of. The former 4-star prospect hasn't taken a snap in a college game, but he has a great pedigree. He's the brother of former Miami Hurricane and current Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen. He's also a coach's kid, having played for his father, Chris, at Wayne Hills High School in New Jersey.
The physical measurables have never been Olsen's issue. It's the mental part of the game where he's had to grow the most.
According to head coach Al Golden, Olsen has taken a big step in the maturation process this spring. From Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the Sun-Sentinel: "He's really doing all the little things that you need a quarterback to do and it's showing on the field…He has to continue to raise his confidence level and continue to lead, but that's going to come the more comfortable he is with the offense."
Golden added, even before Williams' injury, that he planned on giving Olsen more first-team snaps in practice.
Olsen's maturity will be tested this summer during voluntary workouts. Does he rise to the occasion and become the leader he needs to be? Does it transition into preseason camp? Sophomore quarterback Gray Crow is still in the competition, and freshmen Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier will arrive later this summer.
Olsen has the edge. It's a matter of whether he'll keep it.
As terrible as Williams' injury is, it's an opportunity for Olsen to make a move on the depth chart. Depending on how well he does, the move could be long-term.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand.