It is hard to believe the Miami Hurricanes have already completed 10 or so practices.
They already held their first public scrimmage of the Spring last Thursday night at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.
The buzz is fairly good, as over 3,000 fans showed up for the event. We all wish that number was higher, but we will see the turnout for the Spring game before passing judgment.
The crowd saw mostly vanilla plays from the Hurricanes offense. Long runs by Lamar Miller and Storm Johnson were the biggest offensive plays of the almost 100-play scrimmage.
Coming into the scrimmage, AJ Highsmith started and saw most of the series, getting more first team work than the rest of the other quarterbacks.
Highsmith went 7 for 11 for 94 yards with a touchdown, three interceptions, and a rushing touchdown. Stephen Morris went 0 for 3, and Spencer Whipple went 7 for 9 for 75 yards.
With Damien Berry out nursing a knee injury, the young running backs took advantage of the open slot. Storm Johnson had 10 carries for 104 yards, breaking runs of 52 and 29 yards in the process, while also adding a six yard touchdown run.
Lamar Miller was impressive as well. He had seven carries for 63 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a 44-yard run up the middle of the defense. Mike James added 12 carries for 18 yards and one touchdown.
The receiving core seems to be coming out of their slump with the dropsy’s, and Aldarius Johnson had a serviceable showing with three catches for 45 yards. Leonard Hankerson added two catches for 35 yards, while Travis Benjamin also had a touchdown reception. They still dropped some passes, but they do seem to be improving.
On the defensive side of the ball, Vaughn Telemaque had two interceptions. Sacks came from Andrew Smith (three), Allen Bailey, Tyrone Cornelius, Adewale Ojomo, and Micanor Regis. Although the defense was somewhat stout to start the scrimmage, they did give up a number of big plays.
QB: AJ Highsmith
RB: Mike James
FB: Pat Hill
WR: LaRon Byrd
WR: Leonard Hankerson
TE: Richard Gordon
OL: Cory White, Jared Wheeler, Tyler Horn, Harland Gunn, and Jermaine Johnson
DE: Andrew Smith, Allen Bailey
DT: Curtis Porter, Micanor Regis
LB: Colin McCarthy, Kylan Robinson, Sean Spence
CB: DeMarcus Van Dyke, Brandon McGee (David Harris out with an injury)
ST: Vaughn Telemaque, Jamal Reid
There are many notable players missing from that list, as the injuries seem to be piling up for the Hurricanes. Luckily, none of them are major. They are all mostly minor, nagging injuries and the team is being overly cautious with them.
From the looks of things, this Hurricanes team has gotten slightly better than when they first started. But only slightly, which could be cause for concern.
Coming into spring practice, the offense just needed to shore up the offensive line. At this point, with all the injuries, all you can say is they should not have any depth problems next season.
The running backs were already solid, and the defense was good but would falter late in games at times. This still seems to be somewhat the case, although it is too early to tell. Judging by the scrimmage however, the defense would hold the offense in check early in the game, then give up a big play or two as the scrimmage wore on.
Fixing these problems comes down to conditioning and developing toughness. I think you can see that happening with players being benched for not performing up to expectations.
With all of the hype and anticipation surrounding Armstrong, this is supposed to be the season he breaks out.
As it stands right now, he has lost his starting job to Jamal Reid. I suspect this switch is being used as a motivational tool for Armstrong, and he will regain the starting job at some point.
I do like to see that the coaching staff is not afraid to shake things up, and make changes at positions no matter how heralded a player is. If Armstrong is the player everyone believes he is, then he will rebound from this setback.
We will continue to watch closely and see how Spring Practice wraps up. It will be interesting to see what this team will look like in the spring game.