The Miami Hurricanes concluded fall camp Wednesday after 18 days of practices, five two-a-days, and two scrimmages. They now begin preparations for Atlantic Coast Conference foe, Boston College, at practice Friday morning.
Head coach Al Golden has been open about how he feels like this year's camp has been much better in terms of player motivation, preparation and leadership. He leaves camp headed into the season without any major injuries and answers to most of the questions that were posed to his coaching staff at camp's outset.
It's time to take a look at what we learned about the 2012 edition of the Miami Hurricanes during the camp season:
1. Stephen Morris will be the starter at quarterback: After sitting out the entire spring, Morris proved that he was physically and mentally prepared to take the reigns from Jacory Harris and lead this Hurricane team. His leadership during summer workouts and 7 on 7 drills was noteworthy and he has gotten himself in better physical shape sporting bigger arms and calfs and even a six pack abdominal that he flaunts by wearing his jersey up during practice.
It's something to be proud of because a speedy Morris may now be even faster. And with the speed the offense under Jedd Fisch wants to operate at this fall, Morris will need to be in tip top shape to pull it off. Coaches say his mental game has vastly improved by sitting back and watching in the spring. He had back surgery to correct a lingering issue that has plagued him since high school. Most thought it was worst than the team let on but Golden proved right when he said if the game was played in the spring, Morris would start.
What does Morris have to do to help the Canes win? Cut down on mental errors (interceptions, false starts and turnovers). That alone will move this Hurricanes team into the win column more often than not.
2. Offensive Line is the team strength: On a team that lost 12 significant contributors from a year ago, the only real place to look for comfort in what is returning in 2012 on the offensive line. Gone are Brandon Washington (LT), Hunter Gunn (LG) and Tyler Horn (OC). Only Jon Feliciano and Brandon Linder return and add to that bunch first year starters Shane McDermott, Malcolm Bunche and true freshmen Ereck Flowers. They should all be solid. McDermott and Linder provide strong leadership for the overall team and Bunche is said to the the team's strongest man. Flowers has garnered rave reviews thus far and Jermaine Johnson and Jeremy Lewis are said to be playing their best football since Golden arrived.
3. Still Questions on D: The defensive line is the biggest area of concern for this 2012 Hurricanes team. Injuries to Curtis Porter aren't helping matters. The stability provided by Anthony Chickillo is certainly welcomed but that's only one defensive end spot. There's still the health of Shayon Green to be concerned about (he's fine now but is oft injured) and also the depth at both the end and tackle positions. Fresh off of a great spring game, Olsen Pierre a true sophomore, is expected to start in Porter's absence. Also, Luther Robinson appears to be lining up along side him at the defensive tackle position as Darius Smith who played there much of last year provides depth. Don't be surprised if Smith works his way back into a starter's role before Boston College though because of his experience.
In the secondary, it appears that corner Brandon McGee is ready to take a leading role and play more physical. The strong camp by Kacy Rodgers has been met by freshmen Deon Bush's solid effort who now is listed as a co-starter on the depth chart. Rodgers has more game experience, but not by much at all. Look for Vaughn Telemaque to bring stability at safety as the most experienced player on defense. True freshman, Tracy Howard and the aforementioned Bush should see significant playing time along with newcomer LaDarius Gunter and Thomas Finnie who is overcoming the injury bug.
Overall, the team should be led by Denzel Perryman who is only a sophomore. He's the team's leading returning tackler and he should get help from Ramon Buchanon who played well before being injured in last year's Bethune Cookman game. Buchanan's had a great camp and so has Perryman. But the surprise of the linebacking corps has been Thurston Armbrister who has seemingly come from no where into a starting role. Behind him is Eddie Johnson and also Jimmy Gaines who is struggling to return from injury and be healthy for the season after getting banged up in camp.