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Miami Football: Complete Spring Game Preview

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2014

Miami Football: Complete Spring Game Preview

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    Gus Edwards
    Gus EdwardsCredit: 247Sports

    The Miami Hurricanes annual spring game is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET Saturday, April 12, bringing college football back to Sun Life Stadium for the first time in 2014.

    From a new quarterback and new offensive linemen to a handful of new defensive starters, the 'Canes are showcasing talent Al Golden and his coaching staff have been developing.

    A few positions battles are in full force, and a couple storylines are worth following throughout the day.

    As a bonus, the new Nike uniforms for the upcoming season will be unveiled Saturday, making for an exciting night in South Florida.

Particulars

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    Kevin Olsen
    Kevin OlsenCredit: 247Sports

    This year, the scrimmage will not pit Team Orange vs. Team White, the offense will battle the defense on a 50-yard field.

    According to the official athletics site, there is also special scoring rules, including one offensive point for a first down and three defensive points for forcing a three-and-out.

    Per Miami's athletics site, "The first 10 minutes will be the 1-on-1 competitions (one point per play). The next 15 minutes will be 7-on-7 and the final 95 minutes will be scrimmage."

    The spring game will be streamed on ESPNU, and Bleacher Report will provide live grades. Please feel free to watch the scrimmage and keep a browser open to see how all of the Hurricanes are performing.

Position Battles to Watch

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    Raphael Kirby
    Raphael KirbyCredit: 247Sports

    Quarterback

    Senior Ryan Williams was more than likely replacing two-year starter Stephen Morris under center, but an ACL injury has essentially eliminated that thought.

    Kevin Olsen, a redshirt freshman and former 4-star recruit, now leads the competition—and by competition, it means sophomore Gray Crow.

    Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post notes Golden said "Right now Kevin and Gray will be running the show and competing and we’ll see where it goes."

    Olsen is the favorite to win the job, but Crow has been given an enormous opportunity to prove he is more than a career backup.

     

    Linebacker

    Denzel Perryman will be a starter, but the linebackers alongside the senior leader are still a question.

    Raphael Kirby and Jermaine Grace are battling at one spot, while Alex Figueroa and Thurston Armbrister are challenging each other on the opposite side.

    Kirby has been wearing a black jersey for the entirety of spring practice, Grace earned one following the second scrimmage, and both Figueroa and Armbrister had one at some point in the last six weeks. 

    The spring game depth chart lists the players as co-starters, and it's a safe bet the Miami coaches will be closely watching the four linebackers looking for a pair of starters.

Top Storylines

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    Deon Bush
    Deon BushCredit: 247Sports

    Healthy Wide Receivers

    Behind sophomore standout Stacy Coley, the Hurricanes are looking for a couple receivers to step up. Phillip Dorsett led the team as a sophomore, but an injury limited his junior campaign. However, a healthy Dorsett will not provide the biggest upgrade.

    Malcolm Lewis and Rashawn Scott, both of whom were ultimately sidelined for the entire 2013 season, have returned and are impressing the coaches.

    According to Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Golden said of Lewis:

    Now he's got his weight down, he's in great condition. It's just something that bothered him the whole season and they had to fix it. He's really done a great job and I'm excited about the way he looks right now.

    Per Porter, of Scott: He "has probably made the biggest difference this spring. He's changed the whole dynamic."

    Now, with Olsen and Crow taking the majority of reps, the receiving corps will be challenged to help ease the transition and progression of the young quarterbacks.

     

    How Good Are the Safeties?

    Incumbent starter Rayshawn Jenkins has been sidelined for spring practice, freeing Deon Bush, Dallas Crawford and Jamal Carter for a ton of practice time.

    After a promising freshman campaign, Bush was held back by a lingering injury last season. However, converted safety Crawford and sophomore Carter have been outstanding to this point.

    From Porter:

    Golden mentioned the safeties as the defensive group that has been most impressive this spring. '[Deon] Bush is completely healthy and playing with more confidence, [Jamal] Carter clearly is not a freshman anymore and doing a great job. And Dallas [Crawford] brings a toughness, that blue-collar mentality, that work ethic, don't back down to anybody.'

    The compliments are there, but fans are now really expecting to see that improvement.

Important Injuries

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    Duke Johnson
    Duke JohnsonCredit: 247Sports

    Duke Johnson and Joseph Yearby

    Running backs Duke Johnson and Joseph Yearby successfully made it through the opening stages of recovery and returned to practice this week. The duo was given reps in a controlled environment—or better said, no contact—running, catching passes and working with the offense.

    Chirinos notes Johnson is "eager to get back on the field" and helped "expedite" the true freshman's recovery process.

    With that being said, neither player will be a full participant in the spring game.

     

    Shane McDermott

    Returning starter Shane McDermott is missing his second consecutive spring session, and the center will not play Saturday.

    Alex Gall has been taking first-team reps in place of the senior, but it is still McDermott's job to lose come fall practice.

     

    Braxton Berrios

    A fan favorite, the true freshman has been rehabbing a torn ACL but is unavailable for the scrimmage.

    Braxton Berrios is a jack-of-all-trades receiver who will also be used as a returner, and Miami is anxious for his collegiate debut. But that day is still a few months away.

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