Tomorrow is the first day of spring practice, and some semblance of football is back. While it certainly isn't real football, and not even real contact, it still gives fans a chance to ogle their team. Before the practices officially begin, the players on campus generally go through Al Golden's UTough program, which is built to help them improve their speed, strength, and size.
The first depth chart of the spring is always the most interesting, because it's pretty hard to decipher just what Golden is doing. There are usually one or two surprises to start off, then things will generally fall back into place. Today, Miami released said depth chart, and, as has become customary under Golden, there are a few things worth noting. First, the chart itself:
2013 SPRING DEPTH CHART
|27||Ricky Carroll -OR-||6-3||192||Sr.|
Before we dive in to the different sides of the ball, and the surprises and all that, let's address the names that are clearly missing from the chart. There are 8 guys that will be held out of spring practice for various reasons. Here's the list:
Eddie Johnson is not a surprise. We knew coming in that he was likely not going to be participating to begin with, regardless of whether or not his name was on the roster (it is.) Armbrister and Terry are surprises though. There is no official word as of yet why they are out, but since neither has had any real issues tied to their names, you have to think that it's probably some sort of injury. The rest are pretty obviously due to dents and dings. Clements, Lewis, and Lockhart are all known. Perry and McDermott are not off-the-field issue type guys, so they would likely have to be hurt. Whether any of these guys will at some point return is also unknown.
Now, on to the actual charts themselves. On offense, things are pretty standard. Hurns and Dorsett are the top two WR's, with Waters and Scott behind them. I've been pretty vocal in saying that I think that changes in the fall, because I think Lewis will be back, and Coley will give the rest a run for their money. Quarterback and running back are chalk, as is the offensive line, since Wheeler is the absolute backup to McDermott. One fun note to point out, our two starting tackles total 13 feet 3 inches of height, and 667 pounds. Their backups are Flowers and Odogwu (for now), who themselves total 13 feet 2 inches of height, and 633 pounds. That's.....a bunch of man. Stephen Morris is one very well protected dude.
Defense is the side of the ball that holds all the fun surprises. First of all, the defensive line seems to be pretty status quo for what you will likely see come game one. Chick/Porter/Pierre/Green should, barring injury, start the year off. Some will call that McCord or AQM should start above Green, but you can't just dismiss the 2012 leading tackler like that. Green earned that spot, regardless of who you want there. The first surprise is that Figs is listed as the starting strong side line backer. Again, since this chart is more based off of UTough than anything else, that's not all that surprising. Figs is an absolute horse, and if he holds on to that starting spot because he is actually that good, then the current starting three of Figs, Kirby, and Perryman is absolutely frightening.
What should throw you off a bit, is the fact that McCord is listed as his backup. Tyriq was a young star at defensive end last season, so why take him out of that spot and move him to line backer? There could be any number of reasons for this. Golden could be playing around with some things, or he could be listing him there to light a fire under someone else. Or, he may actually be thinking of a hybrid role type of guy, something that you may see Devante Bond of AQM do once they arrive on campus. Either way, it was very claer last year the McCord did one thing extremely well, and that's get to the quarterback. If he can do that equally as well from either the DE spot or the LB spot, then let him do it.
The next head scratcher is that Highsmith is listed as starting safety above Deon Bush. Sure, Highsmith is a senior and all, but Golden doesn't play the class game. This is where the UTough thing comes flying back into the picture. Highsmith likely out performed Bush in the program, hence the starting nod. We are all aware, though, that there is almost no possible way that order sticks, unless Highsmith downloaded the safety spot Matrix style. Bush is an incredible talent in the middle of the field, and if he doesn't start the year off as safety number 1 (outside of being hurt or some other reason), I'll eat a sock (not really.)
At CB, the weather outside is weather. Howard and Gunter are the top two, as will likely be the case come fall ball. The absence of Crawford, though, is puzzling. Dortch being Howard's backup I can understand, because coaches have simply raved about him. Hope backing up Gunter is, while perfectly acceptable, surprising if only because it's come out of nowhere. Hope red shirted last year, while Crawford played.
One of the big question marks the team has is over who should return kicks. Golden has Dorsett and Duke listed as the guys, but whether or not that holds up remains to be seen. Personally, I don't put either of those guys back there, especially Duke, because he is much too important to the offense to risk a potential injury. It may be that they are simply putting them there until the fall when guys like Burns, Carter, and Coley show up. If that is the case, then that's fine by me. They stand almost no chance of getting injured doing the job in the spring, so let em play.
Thoughts on the chart? Let us know below!