The Miami Hurricanes returned to the practice field for the first week of fall camp, signifying the official return of football in South Florida.
It's back, and we couldn't be happier. The 'Canes donned helmets only Tuesday and Wednesday, and after two additional days of shells, Miami completely gears up on Saturday.
The opening week of practice was news-heavy, largely due to pad-less practices and because any depth chart is typically a motivational tool.
Ultimately, 7-on-7 All-Americans may crumble when contact arrives, so it's important to not proclaim the second coming of a Hurricanes' legend after a few reps.
What's Up at Quarterback?
Golden had previously said the quarterback battle would be a two-man race after the first scrimmage. However, per Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post, that time will now be following the second scrimmage.
As part of the competition, the potential starters shared reps with the first-team offense throughout the week. Jake Heaps took his turn Tuesday, Brad Kaaya on Wednesday and Kevin Olsen during Thursday's session.
Though Olsen is unavailable for the opener, the suspension itself does not mean the redshirt freshman is eliminated from contention. Remember, in 2011, Stephen Morris started in place of a suspended Jacory Harris, who then reclaimed the No. 1 role upon his return.
Olsen's on-field play, on the other hand...
If Olsen's really competing, as Golden said yesterday, I don't see it. Passes are slow and off-target. Has flashed nothing so far.— Matt Porter (@mattyports) August 7, 2014
Lastly, Ryan Williams' health was a major talking point. According to Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Golden said: "Is he going to be a factor in this race in the next five weeks? I don't know. I honestly don't know and it's not worth speculating on."
Most importantly, be careful not to fall in love with early practice throws because it's much easier for a quarterback to throw dimes when there is no real pressure. The real front-runners will start separating themselves during a fully-padded week No. 2.
Key Freshmen Battling for Positions
Kc McDermott was expected to contribute as part of the offensive line's rotation, but the early enrollee already leapfrogged right tackle Taylor Gadbois.
First team o-line on #Canes camp Day 1 - Flowers, Feliciano, S. McDermott, Isidora and KC McDermott. Left to right— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) August 5, 2014
In this case, whether the move was a reflection of McDermott's summer work or intended to motivate Gadbois doesn't matter; it's encouraging to see the highly touted true freshman back up his billing right away.
Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald notes Darrion Owens is "coming on strong," making a solid case to be the backup strong-side linebacker. Owens earned a black jersey and, per Chirinos, has yet to give it up through day three.
Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio had some "coach speak" about Chad Thomas, but the writing on the wall signifies immediate playing time for the defensive end. According to Porter: "We have to give everybody the same opportunity. But I'm thrilled to have Chad Thomas on the team. Let's leave it at that. I can't wait to get to work with him today."
News and Notes
For the first time in Golden's tenure at Miami, the coveted orange and black jerseys barely changed hands during the opening days of camp.
Offense: Ereck Flowers, Jon Feliciano, Shane McDermott, Danny Isidora, Kc McDermott, Clive Walford, Beau Sandland, Phillip Dorsett, Duke Johnson and Ronald Regula, Herb Waters (for two days) and Rashawn Scott (Thursday)
Defense: Anthony Chickillo, Ufomba Kamalu, Earl Moore, Trent Harris, Denzel Perryman, Raphael Kirby, Owens, Tracy Howard, Dallas Crawford and Antonio Crawford
Note: List courtesy of Chirinos.
According to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports (subscription required), Joe Yearby missed Wednesday's practice due to dehydration but returned to the Greentree on Thursday.
Long-awaited offensive weapon Trayone Gray practiced, and Darrell Langham is expected on Friday. The two freshmen were the lone holdouts while they waited to be given the go-ahead by clearinghouse.
Wearing No. 32 and working with the running backs early today...Trayone Gray. pic.twitter.com/bvb4Ug9xhF— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) August 6, 2014
Kamalu continues to press returning starters Chickillo and Olsen Pierre for playing time, and Porter writes Chickillo will also move inside on passing situations.
In an effort to build depth at linebacker, Walter Tucker, who was initially brought in at the position, practiced with the unit. Per David Furones of The Miami Herald, Tucker will remain the Hurricanes' starting fullback ahead of Regula.
Golden says he likes what he sees out of Gayot and Hester at 5 and 6 at safety. Fentress at WILL + Tucker to TRY to replenish depth at LB.— David Furones (@DavidFurones90) August 6, 2014
Along with Tyriq McCord playing linebacker in certain packages, senior Nantambu Akil-Fentress moved down from safety to the weak-side "Will" spot. Golden knows the position is an issue, and Miami is taking proper steps to address the problem right away in camp.
Overall, the opening days were a relatively quiet start to fall practice, which is basically a good thing. But next week, football will return to fast-paced, high-level excitement at "The U."
Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.