Miami Football: What Ryan Williams Injury Means for 2014 Season

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2014

Ryan Williams saw limited action as a backup, and an injury will likely keep him on the sideline.
Ryan Williams saw limited action as a backup, and an injury will likely keep him on the sideline.Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes received unfortunate news this week when it was made known senior quarterback Ryan Williams suffered a major injury.

During the second scrimmage of the spring session, Williams tore his ACL while rolling out, quite possibly leaving in the past his dream of starting for the team he loved growing up.

The devastating setback, however, means the Hurricanes will not just start a new quarterback, it will likely be a redshirt freshman.

Plus, Miami will need a few returning starters to improve their respective performances to aid their young gunslinger's progression.


Kevin Olsen Must Step Up

Kevin Olsen
Kevin OlsenCredit: 247Sports

Per Susan Miller Degnan of The Miami Herald, Williams was the clear-cut starter prior to his injury.

But now, Bleacher Report's Ben Kercheval says the senior's injury opens the door for Olsen to take his job, and he's certainly correct. According to the depth chart for the spring game, Olsen is officially the first-stringer.

For now, Gray Crow will serve as his backup, and the sophomore may even hold off Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier during the fall because of his familiarity with the playbook.

While speaking on 560 WQAM's Hurricane Hotline, via Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Golden said, "[Olsen's] got a good cast around him. He's got to trust the cast and not try to do too much and he needs to prepare, as does Gray."

Fortunately for Olsen, he isn't surrounded by second-tier offensive players.


Paging Duke Johnson, Joseph Yearby and Stacy Coley

Duke Johnson
Duke JohnsonLynne Sladky

Still working through his recovery period, junior running back Duke Johnson will be carrying an even heavier load next season. However, he's ready for it.

According to Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post, "Golden said those who haven’t seen Johnson lately 'are going to be blown away by him—205, 206 pounds. He has really turned a negative into a positive, changed his body. He has an edge about him, can't wait to come back.'"

Porter also notes Duke and Joseph Yearby will "take snaps in controlled settings and could be running full speed by next month."

Though Yearby is an unproven commodity, his highlight film from his time at Miami Central High School is rather impressive.

The Hurricanes are expecting the one-cut back's best skill to translate at the collegiate level, giving "The U" a pair of outstanding finesse backs alongside the powerful Gus Edwards. But as the matchup with Virginia Tech in 2013 showed—28 yards on 24 carries—Miami needs its best running back to carry the team.

Sophomore Stacy Coley is the most explosive wide receiver, evidenced by his 10 total touchdowns scored in four different ways. Flanked by Rashawn Scott, Phillip Dorsett and Malcolm Lewis, Coley will have plenty of opportunities to show off his elite skill as a playmaker.

Olsen simply needs to distribute the ball to his best weapons and ignore any desires to take over a game because a handful of players are better suited to do just that.


Temper Your Expectations, Be Patient

Miami was in no danger of surprising the nation and embarking on a 12- or 13-win campaign with Williams at the helm, but the 'Canes are still expected to have a decent season.

Key word there, my friends: decent.

Olsen is mere months removed from being suspended for the Russell Athletic Bowl and Golden questioning his focus. Per Chirinos, Olsen has turned the corner during the offseason and become "process-oriented" on the practice field.

But the Wayne Hills, N.J., product has not taken a single in-game snap at the collegiate level. Olsen has plenty of potential, but he must be given time to develop, too. The maturation of a college quarterback is not an overnight operation.

Looking at the 2014 schedule, Miami travels to Louisville, Nebraska and Virginia Tech and hosts Florida State and North Carolina. Frankly, two wins would be sufficient while three or four would be an outstanding accomplishment.

As much as every fan of the Hurricanes wants the upcoming campaign to mark the first 10-win season in 11 years, demanding it from a redshirt freshman will result in avoidable disappointment.