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Things To Watch For In Miami’s Second Spring Scrimmage

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Plenty to look for, as the Hurricanes prepare for the second scrimmage of spring practice

Spring practice for the Hurricanes has just over a week left, but on Friday, Miami will be holding its second scrimmage of camp. The final scrimmage, spring game, will be held next Saturday.

So obviously fans won’t be able to watch the scrimmage, but what are some things to look for when the stats and quotes come out following Friday night?

  • How will the young QB’s look?

With D’Eriq King out for spring, the QB reps have been divided between Tyler Van Dyke, Jake Garcia, as well as Peyton Matocha. So far, Van Dyke has looked the best, and his development and leadership has been on full display, showing a tremendous work ethic and desire to improve.

Though, Garcia was statistically the most impressive in the Canes first spring scrimmage, completing 15-of-19 passes, for 188 yards and 1 touchdown. Van Dyke went 10-of-15 that day passing, for 114 yards and 1 touchdown. Friday will be big for both Garcia and Van Dyke, as they’ll try and duplicate the success they had in the first scrimmage, as they battle for King’s backup spot. Either way, Miami fans should be very excited about the future of this program with these guys.

King will resume his role as the starter once he’s healthy, but it’s good to see the future QB’s of this program stepping up and making the most out of this opportunity.

  • Which WR’s are separating themselves?

Wide receiver has been one of the most competitive position battles so far in the spring, and it’s hard to really tell what the depth chart is looking like up to this point. Mike Harley is clearly WR1, and it seems that Charleston Rambo could be that second option, but who will be third, and fourth, who else is stepping up?

In the first scrimmage, Xavier Restrepo made a strong argument for being the 3rd option, hauling in 9 receptions, for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns. Could we see X breakout as a starter in his second season?

Keyshawn Smith is a player we heard early on in spring, is he continuing to get better? What about guys like Michael Redding III, or the two seniors in Dee Wiggins and Mark Pope? Have they put a rough 2020 behind them and proven on Greentree they can be consistent starters?

  • The battle for RB1

Rhett Lashlee has made it clear this spring, that he wants the offense to feature a lead running back who will receive the majority of the carries, as opposed to the three-headed feature backfield Miami played with in 2020.

The early choice for most would be senior Cam’Ron Harris, who rushed for 643 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Harris started the 2020 season on a very strong note, but failed to meet that consistency as the fall went on.

However, Don Chaney Jr. has emerged as perhaps the fan-favorite to start at running back, after finishing his freshman year strongly. In the first scrimmage, Chaney had a total of 52 yards, including a long touchdown run. Chaney has been working more on his speed to go along with power, and he can really make a statement as spring ball wraps up.

Jaylan Knighton is also entering his second season, and while I think his future is as bright as perhaps anyone in the RB room, it seems Harris and Chaney are the two fighting for the starting spot. Still, Knighton plays with an explosiveness that the other two simply don’t have, and Friday’s scrimmage we could see Knighton have a big night, and make an argument for him being the featured back.

  • Linebacker situation

I’ve talked at length about the LB room for the Canes, so to briefly explain what’s happening there, Corey Flagg, Bradley Jennings Jr. and Tirek Austin-Cave are battling for the middle linebacker starting job. Meanwhile, Sam Brooks, Avery Huff and Waynmon Steed are doing the same but at weak-side linebacker. So far, we’ve heard great things about Flagg, that he's taken his game to another level, looks faster, and is emerging as a leader on defense.

Huff is another player who has received praise, and was mentioned by name by coach Diaz following the first scrimmage. “The guy that is really getting better and better is Avery Huff. He made a nice play on a screen and just seeing the game better and better,” said coach Diaz.

Perhaps the most athletic of the LB’s, fans have been waiting for the emergence of Huff, and 2021 may be that season. Brooks is still battling a toe injury, so if he remains out, I believe Huff can beat out Steed to start alongside the middle backer, who I predict will be Flagg.

How will the group perform on Friday? Are the linebackers putting behind their dreadful performance from last year? If Miami wants to have a dominant and successful defense, they’ll need the linebackers to step up big time.

  • How is Avantae Williams looking?

After missing all of 2020, we finally had the debut of Avantae Williams in a Miami uniform, even if it was just spring practice. Still, Williams has impressed the coaches and his teammates, recording an interception in the first scrimmage.

“I am excited about Avantae and I think he is going to be a talented player for us in the future if he continues to develop,” said DB’s coach Travaris Robinson about Williams.

We all know Williams is an incredibly gifted football talent, will his breakout performance in spring, be enough to challenge Gurvan Hall for the starting spot at safety next to Bubba Bolden?