With this past weekend’s spring game for the Miami Hurricanes, I was finally able to get a first hand look into the new Miami Hurricanes under Mark Richt. While this wasn’t the final tune-up for the fall, we were still able to see the direction of the team and how they players are being coached under a new regime. Hurricane fans definitely have a lot to feel good about this team but there is also a lot that they should be concerned with.
Going into Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale I really didn’t know what to expect. Coming from the Al Golden regime all I expected was disappointment and players not being utilized the proper way. As soon as I drove into the parking lot, I knew it was a different era. Fans were happy. There were smiles when there was once a look of content on the faces of fans. You could feel the excitement just in the parking lot. It was palpable and it was an excitement that had been missing from the program for years.
Brad Kaaya – He looks NFL ready. He was accurate and sharp throughout the entire game. It looked like he added some size to him in the offseason, but watching him I began to wonder if he’ll stay for his senior year if he excels this season. There is nothing in my mind that says he won’t be successful in the NFL.
Gus Edwards – Gus “the Bus” Edwards coming off an injury last season ran with authority. He was breaking tackles and finding the holes in the defense to run through. He looked like a man on a mission and that mission was to carry the bulk of the running back duties this season.
The Front Seven of the Defense – These guys impressed me the most. They were flying around and they were making plays. The two freshman, Shaq Quarterman and Mike Pinckney, stuck out to me the most. These kids looked ready to start and they acted like they belonged on the first unit. I think they will be starting along with Jermaine Grace come fall. Those two have a real chance to be special for the next few years.
Braxton Berrios – With Stacy Coley out with a hamstring injury, Braxton took advantage and made the most of his playing time. He finally showed the burst of speed that has been missing the past 2 seasons due to injury. He also showed great body control fighting for the ball with the cornerbacks. I’m not sure he has the size to play outside receiver all season but as a slot guy over the middle he will definitely open up the field for others downfield.
Backup QB’s – There was not a clear backup to Brad Kaaya in this group. They were all very inconsistent. Malik Rosier seems to have lost the #2 spot and looks shaky. I was impressed with the true freshman Jack Allison and his size. Give him another year or two to fill out and he might be the next great QB at the U. Until then let’s pray nothing bad happens to Brad Kaaya or this is going to be a very long season.
Wide Receivers – While I praised Braxton Berrios, there was very little else to cheer about with this group. Lawrence Cager had problems holding onto the ball and Malcom Lewis and Darrell Langham weren’t that impressive either. They also seemed to have issues creating separation downfield which led to a lot of short and intermediate passes. No one really stretched the field as a homerun threat. I expected more out of Cager just because he has the size and speed, but he needs to work on holding onto the ball.
Depth – After Brad Kaaya there is a huge falloff in QB play. Same with the defensive line and secondary. There isn’t a lot of quality depth on the team where one person can go out and another person can step in. Wide receivers and the offensive line are another thing to keep an eye on.
Overall it was a positive experience and I think Mark Richt has this team headed in the right direction. There is a lot of time between now and the fall for improvements etc. All in all the fans have finally something to look forward to on Saturdays once again.