The Miami Hurricanes open fall camp on August 5 at the newly resurfaced GreenTree Practice Fields, and a few storylines will demand headlines throughout the next month.
Offensive skill positions unquestionably comprise the Hurricanes' biggest strength, but one coach must be careful to neither over- nor under-utilize his scoring weapons.
It's no secret Al Golden wants to show Miami is ready to win the school's first-ever Coastal Division title, and an early-season showdown is an integral factor in determining how the Hurricanes will fare throughout 2014.
How James Coley Plans to Distribute the Ball
Save for a quarterback dilemma, Miami has an exciting offensive unit spearheaded by Duke Johnson and protected by veteran leaders Shane McDermott, Jon Feliciano and Ereck Flowers.
Behind Duke, sophomore Gus Edwards and freshman Joe Yearby give the 'Canes a well-rounded backfield, something the team has not truly had for nearly a decade. Edwards' power and Yearby's one-cut prowess are exciting attributes if used properly by offensive coordinator James Coley.
Coley faces a difficult task of spreading the ball throughout his offense without over-relying on Johnson and sophomore wide receiver Stacy Coley. Every opponent will be preparing for the dangerous combination, so the second-year coach must use other offensive assets effectively without failing to give the running back and receiver enough touches.
The resulting balance is certainly delicate, and James Coley will need multiple games to uncover the proper rotations. Unfortunately, he is not necessarily afforded that time before Miami gets challenged.
Importance of Season Opener at Louisville
"I'm 0-1 against those guys," senior linebacker Denzel Perryman said, per Susan Miller Degnan of The Miami Herald. "I ain't going 0-2."
Call it revenge, redemption or a desired start, the 'Canes need a win against the Louisville Cardinals.
Of course, whether it is Kevin Olsen, Jake Heaps or Brad Kaaya, Miami will send out a first-time starter for the program. Ryan Williams continues to approach an official return date, but availability in time for Louisville is hardly discussed and not anticipated.
"We have to operate like he's not going to be ready for us," Golden told the ACC Digital Network's Jeff Fischel (h/t Palm Beach Post).
More importantly, though, the Hurricanes' result on Labor Day Monday will largely define the direction of Miami's season.
That first game is going to be really important for them," ESPN's Rece Davis told Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post. "They're facing a Louisville team in transition as well, after getting handed it to them in the bowl game last year. Certainly if you win it, but if you play really well on the road, with a new quarterback and the issues Miami has at that position, then maybe that can get positive momentum, a little positive energy going.
Otherwise, a loss to Louisville puts the Hurricanes in an amazingly tough position to achieve their ultimate 2014 goal: winning the Coastal.
Miami Still Seeking Division Title
Nearly every Coastal team has a realistic chance to win the division in 2014, which is a testament to the parity—err, overall mediocrity—between the seven schools.
Miami was tabbed the victor in the conference's media poll, though the Hurricanes only received the third-most first-place votes.
Granted, the intent is not to analyze a preseason poll. The point remains that Miami is not being disrespected, overlooked or any other negative motivational buzzwords. The final actual results—not hype or collective potential—are the only things that ultimately matter.
"We have the potential to be great, but what I'm hoping for is to finally win the Coastal," Johnson said, according to Degnan, before mentioning overall conference title aspirations.
In order to win the division, Miami must win at least six of eight ACC matchups. However, with Monday and Thursday night prime-time road contests at Louisville and Virginia Tech, respectively, reaching that six-win mark will be difficult.
Essentially, Miami can only afford one loss beyond falling to reigning national champion Florida State.
The once-dominant program has spent 10 years in its current conference without earning a single Coastal championship, and fall camp is the first step toward answering if the 'Canes can change that fact.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.
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