Position battles are inevitable, and the Miami Hurricanes head into fall camp with three major spots up for grabs.
The 2014 edition of the 'Canes faces a pair of obvious competitions, one oft-discussed topic and a newly created major issue.
Since Miami focuses so much on rotations, spots on the offensive and defensive lines demand depth over a top starter. This suggests finding a true starter is not necessarily an integral task.
However, a final battle—a role the team had extremely covered last season—is an essential facet of a well-rounded team, and its importance cannot be overlooked.
Down went Ryan Williams, in stepped Kevin Olsen, and the only thing that emerged was chaos. Olsen showed his inexperience during the spring game, leaving the quarterback situation completely unsettled.
Three months later, though, Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post quoted head coach Al Golden as saying the redshirt freshman "has changed his body. He's working harder. He's been a better teammate this summer. ... I think he's made a lot of progress this summer. He's starting out with a little more confidence."
However, that doesn't mean Olsen is the clear front-runner. True freshmen Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier will be included in the competition and not immediately saved for the sake of future eligibility.
"We're going to let it play out on the field," Golden told Susan Miller Degnan of The Miami Herald. "I want to see what we have before we decide to redshirt them."
But as the talk of Williams taking over under center immediately following recovery intensifies, Kansas transfer Jake Heaps becomes a more intriguing candidate. If Golden is set on Williams as the No. 1 when available, Heaps may actually be the best option during the first few outings.
Instead of sending out a quarterback who has never seen collegiate game action, the 'Canes could use Heaps as an early-season stopgap until Williams is ready.
Al on the QB race: "It is wide-open."— Matt Porter (@mattyports) July 21, 2014
As noted by Porter, Golden plans on making the competition a two-man fight following the first scrimmage.
"We'll go from four to two fairly quickly and let the two battle for the rest of training camp," Golden said.
Miami knew it would be relatively thin on the outside, but Thurston Armbrister, Raphael Kirby and Jermaine Grace are the only true linebackers on the squad with any collegiate experience.
"Any" is used cautiously, too, since Kirby and Grace have been primarily used on special teams. Armbrister has recorded the most snaps, appearing in 25 games, starting 10 and registering 73 total tackles.
Denzel said Thurston Armbrister looks like a starter at Sam linebacker if UM played tmrw. Said he's "come a long way" and is 240 lbs now.— Matt Porter (@mattyports) July 20, 2014
Golden told Miller Degnan that junior edge-rusher Tyriq McCord will also be utilized at the position. Granted, McCord's role is unknown because he has never been an every-down linebacker and, well, the coach did not offer a clear indication of how McCord will fit into the scheme.
Additionally, Golden included Darrion Owens in the conversation. According to Porter, the coach said the true freshman is "going to make a case to play" during the upcoming season.
Then again, Golden does not have much of a choice considering the extreme lack of depth.
"We lost guys, we've got to move on," senior leader Denzel Perryman told Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel. "We've brought the younger guys along and they know the playbook right now. We just have to focus on the season."
No, it's not just a punter. Though he has one job—blast the ball—it's not as easy as it sounds.
During ACC media days, Golden mentioned to reporters that the team needs to find its starter, obviously acknowledging the void left by All-American punter Pat O'Donnell. After all, the Cincinnati transfer shattered a Miami record during his lone season in Coral Gables.
One thing to look for in camp? Golden highlights need to settle on a punter. Oh, Pat O'Donnell...you set the bar so high.— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) July 21, 2014
With Matt Goudis, Justin Vogel and Ricky Carroll in the mix, the 'Canes should have a respectable option by the end of fall camp.
According to Miller Degnan, Golden said Vogel "is doing a really good job" to this point. "The way it's looking now, according to Golden, is it's between Vogel and Carroll, though Goudis will also work there," she added.
Flipping field position is a crucial part of the game—it will be especially so if the Hurricanes offense initially struggles while breaking in a new quarterback.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.