Hows about some football talk, you guys?
With spring football rapidly approaching, and the 2013 recruiting class all but wrapped up (Michael Parker has yet to choose, but I would be surprised if it's not Arizona State), let's take a much too early look at how the opening day starting lineup for the Canes offense will look.
Before we dive in, a few things to consider. At the time of this writing, no one else has been removed from the team, transferred, or is otherwise no longer there. Also, I am going to assume that the entire 2013 recruiting class has qualified and made it into school in the fall. I am putting this together based off of the current roster listed on HurricaneSports.com, and adding in the recruits that have not yet been added to their list. Also, obviously things like injuries are impossible to predict, and there's no guarantee that a guy will red shirt or not. This is my best guess at what things will look like ahead of the first official game, but is obviously subject to change.
That all being said, let's get to work.
There's almost zero question who the starting QB will be for the Canes next year. Sure, Golden will say that the competition is wide open, and that anyone can start, but there should literally be nobody that believes him. Behind Morris, Ryan Williams is the backup until he isn't. Not a spectacular talent by any means, but a damn good game manager, and played well given the circumstances and play calling when he did come in to spell Morris. The Dewey/Crow combination will be a fun one to watch. Last year, Dewey won the third string job, but Crow has reportedly improved greatly in the year he took off. Thompson is on the list mainly because he is on the roster, but it still remains to be seen if he will stick to baseball full time or not. The QB of the future, Kevin Olsen, will red shirt. Not because he can't play, but more because he himself said he wants to. He understands that right now, they have guys who are better than him, and it's in his best interest to work hard, learn the playbook, and absorb as much knowledge from the tenured guys as he can. He'll get his shot in 2014, you can believe that.
|Ray Lewis III|
Like at quarterback, there is a clear heir apparent to the Mike James throne. If Golden even mentions a running back competition, he is either referencing the spots behind Duke, or being an asshole. Duke Johnson will be your running back, and he will be spectacular. Behind him, the waters get a bit murkier. Clements would probably be the number 2 guy if it weren't for the surgery he had to have on his knee. It's currently unknown whether he will be full speed until late in the spring/fall practice process, so until that is known, he's parked in the middle. I think Crawford will be your next guy after Duke, and will finally get his chance to show what he can do. I do think that Gus Edwards is ready to contribute from day one, and will give Crawford a run for his number 2 money. Behind them, you're looking at Dillard, who red shirted last year but has apparently been impressing, and two rookies in Elder and Lewis. Elder gets the nod over Lewis mainly because it has yet to be decided if Lewis will even play RB. However, if he does, Elder would still likely be the guy.
|Phillip Dorsett||Malcolm Lewis OR
|Herb Waters||Rashawn Scott||Stacy Coley|
|D'Mauri Jones||Derrick Griffin||Robert Lockhart Jr.
|Garrett Kidd||Jontavious Carter|
This is obviously a tough one to place. With the committee that the Canes had last year, any number of guys could be labeled as starters here, and the freshmen that were added are good enough to start from day one. So, I went with my gut. Dorsett is a no-brainer. Drops or not, he's the guy that will be on one side, regardless. Herb Waters will be a backup guy on the outside, although I don't see him beating out PD or Hurns. Behind Waters are Jones and Kidd.
Hurns is the other guarantee, and is backed up by freshman Stacy Coley. I am on record as saying that I think Coley could start from day one, and will have a great shot at doing so. Lockhart checks in behind Coley, mainly because he had some pretty serious surgery late in the year, and will have some ground to make up. Carter rounds out that side of the field, and like Jones, is in that spot simply because we haven't seen anything from him yet.
A lot of people would say that Rashawn Scott came on strong enough late to earn the starting spot in the slot, but I can't make myself pull the trigger on him. Lewis tweeted the other day that his recovery is going very well, and I see no reason why he won't be ready well in advance of the first game, and I would take him over Scott easily. That being said, I put Scott right behind him and labeled it an OR situation, because it's that close. Spelling those two is the latest addition to the team, Derrick Griffin. He's an absolute giant of a receiver, and should prove to be a pretty good match up nightmare for linebackers over the middle, although he could be just as effective on the outside if they need him to be. Miami is in damn good shape with their WR's this year, and almost any combination of guys will be effective.
I've made it no secret that I think, regardless of experience, Beau Sandland immediately became the best tight end on the team once he signed his name to the LOI. I certainly have not backed off of that thought process. Walford came on very strong late last year, but Sandland is borderline NFL ready now, and should easily beat out everyone else for the top spot. In two TE sets, Walford will be the next guy up, barring what would be a very surprising resurgence by Cleveland. I don't think Dobard red shirts, but I also don't think that he gets a ton of reps unless Cleveland totally falls off the map.
Outside of those guys, things are kind of weird. One roster has Dye still at TE, while another has him back on the defensive line. I could have sworn I saw something that said David Perry would not be back, but I couldn't find it. Jake O'Donnell is in the same boat as Dye, depending on the roster, he's either a tight end or a defensive lineman. When you drill down to Ryheem Lockley, you run into an interesting situation. I think they brought him in to be a tight end, in which case he would red shirt most likely. However, new RB coach Hubie Brown was on a radio show the other day and mentioned the chance that Lockley gets time at safety. I'm not sure how much truth is in that, so for now I'll play the safe card and list him here.
|Malcolm Bunche OR||Jon Feliciano||Shane McDermott||Brandon Linder||Seantrel Henderson|
||Jared Wheeler||Danny Isidora||Taylor Gadbois|
|Sonny Odogwu||Alex Gall||Hunter Knighton||Sonny Odogwu|
The top of this list is very easy to place, since the Canes are returning every offensive lineman from last year that didn't graduate. The only question came in at the left tackle spot, where Bunche and Flowers are listed. Flowers can play on either side of the line, so in theory he would be the backup for both Bunche and Henderson. I think that Odogwu will be behind them as well, with his combination of size and speed, he'll be perfect for the edge. Inside, Wheeler is the obvious backup center, and Wells and Isidora will be behind Linder and Feliciano more than likely.
As far as the new guys are concerned, if any of them are to red shirt, it would be Knighton and Gall. The depth at the position is not as deep as most would like, but the good thing is that the Canes have experience at every spot, and they shouldn't need to rotate as much as they did last year. This is going to be a very, very good offensive line barring any major injuries.
Obviously the fullback spot is not present here, because the Canes have one true FB on the roster in Maurice Hagens. He's the guy. Gus Edwards and Dillard may join him there on occasion due to their size, but they are more hybrids than anything else. It will be interesting to see how the FB spot is used in the new offense. Which brings me to my final point.
The one major wildcard with the offense is of course new OC James Coley. In his words, he likes to run a pro-style spread offense, so feel free to try and decipher that however you want. From the way the offense has come together, it feels like they are going to try and score, and score quickly. This side of the ball is absolutely loaded with weapons, and they have the line to protect Morris long enough to get the ball out. As we saw last year, need be, Morris can certainly run, although with this collection of talent there shouldn't be much of a reason for him to have to resort to that. This is going to be a fun offense to watch, and will likely be able to give any defense fits trying to figure out who to cover.