Miami Football: Week 1 Spring Practice Stock Report

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2014

Al Golden is entering his fourth season as the Miami head coach.
Al Golden is entering his fourth season as the Miami head coach.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

The first week of spring ball for the Miami Hurricanes has concluded, and there is no shortage of news emerging from the Greentree Practice Fields.

Miami has six weeks of practices scheduled, and the opening stretch provided an early look into some things to expect as the team works toward the 2014 spring game.

From player development to injury updates to scheme details, the four workouts provided plenty of goings-on at "The U."

And of course, the South Florida weather wasn't awful, either.

Note: The next scheduled workout is on Tuesday, March 18, due to the university being on spring break.

News and Notes

Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said the Hurricanes will not completely move away from the 4-3 defense. Miami prefers a 3-4 set, but it typically used the 4-3 formation on third-down situations last year.

The general buzz from Miami fans is a collective disdain for D'Onofrio, so he will be scrutinized heavily for anything he says—or for as long as the 'Canes defense fails to stop opposing offenses. 

Head coach Al Golden noted running backs Duke Johnson and Joseph Yearby are healing well from their respective injuries, and the fourth-year coach is ready to get the 180-pound Yearby "caught up."

Johnson has added 10 more pounds since the 2013 season and 20 pounds since his breakout true freshman campaign. Yearby will need the additional size to combat the heightened level of contact at the collegiate level.

Defensive lineman David Perry, a relatively unknown player who was lost on the depth chart, quit the team this week.

Perry accumulated 15 appearances and two tackles during his Miami career. 

Position Battles

This spring, the quarterback competition is Miami's most important position battle.

Senior Ryan Williams is the frontrunner for the job, but redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen will push Williams during every practice.

Susan Miller Degnan of The Miami Herald notes the battle between the gunslingers is heating up. But as seen in the accompanying video, it's a friendly competition, too.

While Williams appears to be the safer pick, Olsen has the potential to be a four-year starter. Golden and offensive coordinator James Coley will be closely monitoring the situation throughout the practices and scrimmages.

At right tackle, redshirt sophomore Taylor Gadbois is "being given every chance to win the starting right tackle job," according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Golden said of Gadbois: "He's punching probably better than anyone on the O-line right now. For Taylor, it's time. He was patient, got strong. We have to keep working on his conditioning. But I'm excited about Taylor."

Gadbois, redshirt freshman Sunny Odogwu and true freshman Kc McDermott are worth monitoring at the position throughout the workouts.

Record-setting specialist Pat O'Donnell has moved on to pursuing the NFL, leaving a massive hole at punter. O'Donnell had a fantastic season, smashing Matt Bosher's school-best mark of yards per punt, and Miami will struggle to replace his production.

Currently, redshirt senior Ricky Carroll and redshirt junior Matt Goudis are dueling for the starting job, but walk-ons are expected to join the hunt.

Presumably, Goudis will retain his job as place-kicker, at least until walk-on Jonathan Semerene arrives this summer and battles the incumbent starter. 

Players to Watch

Following Dallas Crawford's switch to safety, Gus Edwards is the clear No. 1 running back right now. Edwards has added weight to his massive frame, and he is impressing media and coaches alike.

Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes that Golden said, "[Edwards] doesn't lose his explosion, he has a good lateral cut. We have to keep working on his stiff arm. He really showed patience today. That was the biggest thing I saw."

Working toward solidifying the second-string running back job during the regular season, Edwards has a few advantages over Yearby: He is one year older, immersed in the playbook and, most importantly, on the field.

Early enrollees and offensive linemen Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling are considered bookends of the future, but the duo has already grabbed offensive line coach Art Kehoe's attention.

It would not be shocking to eventually see McDermott earn the starting right tackle job while Darling works his way toward being a key reserve.

Per Jackson, Golden says linebacker Juwon Young "has to spend more time studying football. He's not trusting his key right now. So he's peeking and reacting. We have to get him to read his keys."

The early enrollee's situation is reminiscent of what Golden said about now-junior linebacker Raphael Kirby last year. Kirby was thinking too much and needed to get to a point where his reads became "second nature," according to Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald.

Chirinos writes the Miami linebackers want to key defensive improvement, and Young has an opportunity to contribute, even in a limited role.

And that was just the first week.

Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.


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