When the Hurricanes started spring ball a month ago, there were so many questions that people both within the program and outside of it wanted answered.
Who was going to step up at quarterback? Is Tate Martell going to be the starter the second he walks onto campus? How is the offense going to react to an entirely new system? How about the offensive line, which struggled a lot a year ago?
Is the secondary going to continue being elite with the losses of Jaquan Johnson, Sheldrick Redwine, and Michael Jackson?
There are still many that remain unanswered, but between practice sessions and the lone scrimmage this past Saturday, there has been enough to begin formulating an opinion.
Heading into the Spring Game this Saturday in Orlando, the quarterback rotation has been and will likely continue to be N’Kosi Perry, Jarren Williams, and Tate Martell. Manny Diaz and Dan Enos have been pretty outspoken about the fact that the rotation doesn't matter and it’s not about who’s going first or not. They are being evaluated equally and no decision will be made on the matter for some time.
Diaz said on Tuesday that the job will be won during the summer months when the team has to practice on their own and the quarterback who is out there working with his team and setting up practice sessions will be the guy who wins the job. The guy who is going to step up and be a leader.
I am not ready to make a prediction on who I believe the quarterback is going to be because there is still so much time and so many factors in play at the moment. I will say that I believe Perry and Williams are separating themselves from Martell.
As far as the offense in its entirety goes, I feel like they're going to be able to grasp Enos’ complex offense. There are so many different looks and formations as we expected. He said from the very beginning that this offense was going to be multiple.
Mistakes are still being made in regards to motions and the depths of routes and that certainly needs to get cleaned up. The offense is still being installed and may be completely installed by now. It’s up to the players to make the extra effort to make sure that they fluently speak the same language as their coordinator come August.
The offensive line seemed to hold their own during the Canes second scrimmage at Traz Powell. We saw Deejay Dallas run for 108 yards and three touchdowns and Cam’Ron Harris run for 61 yards on 10 carries. Injuries have been a factor this spring and guys like Navaughn Donaldson have had to move to center to make up for the lack of bodies. And he's adjusting to the position well. Well enough that a permanent move to center may not be completely out of the question.
Kai-Leon Herbert is another guy who is stepping up after suffering injuries through his first two years as a Hurricane and hasn't made the impact he hoped he would as a highly touted recruit out of Plantation American Heritage. John Campbell, Zalon’tae Hillery, and D.J. Scaife are other guys who have been productive at the position.
Their position coach, Butch Barry, brings an “NFL mentality,” as many of his players call it and it seems like it’s paying dividends to their productivity.
When the defense gets together, you can see that this group isn't missing a beat. They might be razor thin at some positions, such as linebacker with Waynmon Steed and B.J. Jennings out, and at corner. But the first team at those spots are as good as any. Patrick Joyner is a guy that has been able to be a hybrid between defensive end and linebacker in the absence of the proper depth.
The striker position eases that issue some because Romeo Finley and Gilbert Frierson can come down and play in the box as hybrid outside linebackers that have the juice to make a hit in the backfield and the speed to cover whoever they need to.
While the quarterback question is still up in the air, there has to be a stronger sense of comfort at the position among the coaching staff and fans. There is a quarterback on this roster that can play productively for the Hurricanes come August 24th — they just need to step up and take it.
See you Saturday in Orlando for the finale of the Canes spring.