Experienced Canes - Six Players Who Need To Step Up In Order To Win

Stephen Morris is a huge piece of the puzzle this year.

We all know the talent that Golden has brought to Coral Gables. The team is absolutely flush with young guys who have all the talent in the world and everything to prove. Relying on these freshmen and sophomores, however, is not a perfect recipe for winning ball games. Every team who wins is almost required to have experience at at least a few of the skill positions. Unless of course the kids are just young and otherworldly good, and somehow all ended up on the same team. Even then, there is usually one or two guys that are older, more experienced, who have been there before that the team just could not have done without. So, looking over the Hurricanes' roster this year, who are those guys? Who are the kids that have been there a few years who have got to step their game up in order for this team to be successful? I put together a list of six that I think will be invaluable if they can elevate themselves.

I'm going to start off with the obvious one, Stephen Morris. As the understood starter going into this season (barring a huge rally from Ryan Williams or a ridiculously surprising performance by as-of-yet-to-decide David Thompson), Morris is carrying a huge weight on his shoulders. He split time with Jacory Harris last season, and when he did, he looked decent, but not great. This is of course to be expected when you aren't playing every down, and are only utilized in the event of an injury or coach's whim. But now the team is his to lead, and he has got to step up from what he has been to be able to lead the Canes to victory. He has shown flashes of a tremendous arm, great accuracy (although compared to Harris, a half-drunk chimp is accurate), and the ability to run if needed. His main weakness as of yet, at least from what I have seen, is decision making. If he gets flustered, or if he is suddenly put in a must-win situation, he does not always seem to be able to see the field clearly, and looks to rush things a bit. Perhaps now that he is the man in charge that will calm down a bit, but he has a ways to go if he is going to help fans forget about Harris. He definitely has the talent, he just has to apply it to the field.

------------------------------------------------------------------

The next guy that stands out to me is one that will be hugely important not just for this year, but for the next few years as well. Senior corner back Brandon McGee will have to step up his game in a big, big way. He was heralded coming in, but has underperformed during his first three years. It has been a combination of his attitude and the lackadaisical attitude that the program had under the former regime. With Golden at the helm, McGee has reportedly improved by leaps and bounds in the weight room and at practice. The next step, of course, is for him to prove himself on the field. Not only will he need to do this for himself if he has any desires to play in the NFL, but with the defensive backfield being so very young, they are going to be relying on him for tips, tricks, and pointers throughout the season. He has to take it upon himself to help the coaches groom the young corners and help develop them into great players. If he doesn't do this, and do it well, the secondary will suffer big this year, and could show some effects going forward. Of course Brandon McGee isn't the key to saving the defense all on his own, but he has seen a lot more college ball than the new kids, and if he can prepare them during their first year, then they will be much better prepared going forward.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Next up we go to the position that is hurting the most, wide receiver. While there are a few guys that are experienced on the squad, one in particular has huge expectations for this year and beyond. Allen Hurns will need to be the leader of the WR corps, not only because they are woefully depleted, but because he is probably the most reliable guy out there. He showed flashes of greatness last season, and this season he will need to take those flashes and repeat them, every game, every down. He has got to be Mr. Reliable on the field, because the QB (whoever it is), will not have all that many targets to throw to that have experience. With either a rookie running back or a converted DB set to be catching most of the passes out of the backfield, and a mostly freshman WR group, Morris/Williams/Thompson will have to have a safety valve. They'll need an out in case things break down, or one of the younger guys makes a mistake. If Hurns is not there to bail them out, the offense will sputter. Sure, there are other WR's that could potentially step up and fill that role, but relying on them would be a huge gamble, and frankly, that's not one that we can afford.

------------------------------------------------------------------

For the fourth player, we go back on the defensive side of the ball. Ray-Ray Armstrong is a guy that Canes fans have been waiting to see explode. Known as a hard hitter and a bit of a ball hawk, he has but a few times where he has shown this ability. He, like McGee, has shown a penchant for being more on the lazy side than anything else, and it has hurt him. This is his senior year, and he has come back strong both vocally and on the practice field. Golden has raved about how much more focused he is, how determined he has looked. It just needs to be seen on the field, and also off the field as well. Ray-Ray needs to basically be a pro, and handle himself the right way. Stay out of trouble off the field, and play with that explosiveness that we have come to expect from our safeties. Together with Vaughn Telemaque, the Canes' safety group could be one of the better ones in the country, if they put it all together. He is projected to be drafted next year, but if he wants to guarantee a first round spot, he had better improve his game.

------------------------------------------------------------------

The next player may be a bit of a surprise to a lot of people, but I would argue that given the current state of the position, and the type of offense that will be run, he may very well be the most important piece. Tight end Clive Walford is very important to the offense. Not only is he a great pass catching tight end, but he has shown himself to be reliable on short downs and goal line plays. Sure, he is a sophomore, and still young, but he has been used a lot in the offense, and knows what he is doing. The TE position as a whole is extremely important, since they have to bridge the gap between this year and the next few, since the Canes managed to snag exactly zero tight ends in this years class. Asante Cleveland is another guy who needs to play hard, but he has already shown that he will do so. Walford needs to take that extra step in order to be great, because he will just be another guy that defenses have to concentrate on.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Finally, a name that a lot of you are probably tired of hearing, Seantrel Henderson. The prized USC transfer has unbelievable size and skill at his position, but has not shown the give a damn necessary to follow in the footsteps of the great Miami offensive lineman. He himself has said that he was never a big weight room guy, but has improved on that significantly. When he got to The U, he could barely do any reps at 225, now he's doing around 20, up from 15 last year. He still has to battle back a bit from his surgery, and get his hips strong again, but he is busting his large ass to do so. The offensive line has some experience on it, and should be pretty damn good, but any offensive line with a guy who is 6'8" and 340 lbs on the end is just that much better. The QB's and RB's need to have the comfort level coming from that side, and there just isn't a better talent on the field than Henderson when he is healthy and focused. Expect great things from him this year, barring another injury setback.

------------------------------------------------------------------

There you have 'em. My list of the guys that I think will be enormously important to the team this year if the Canes plan on winning any acceptable number of games. Who are your must-haves for the team?

GO CANES!

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join State of The U

You must be a member of State of The U to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at State of The U. You should read them.

Join State of The U

You must be a member of State of The U to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at State of The U. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker