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.
The throw by TVD, catch by Harley, LOVE TO SEE IT pic.twitter.com/aHlPIqkXTx— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) March 24, 2021
Was already impressed with TVD, but today was the first time I’ve been in a media session with him. That kid is special. You can just tell— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) March 16, 2021
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.
Corey Gaynor, on Jake Garcia: "Jake is just a football player. He works extremely hard...I think he's very in-tune to what we want to get done here. He's a great football player."— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) April 8, 2021
Rhett Lashlee on the QBs: "They've all progressed well...These 10 or 11 practices have been invaluable for [Tyler Van Dyke]...You look at a guy like Peyton Matocha, he's gotten more reps than he's ever gotten...Jake Garcia...for a freshman, he's shown poise and calmness."— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) April 8, 2021
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.
UM's Tyler Van Dyke - who along with Jake Garcia are doing ongoing Zoom sessions - said D'Eriq King quizzes the young QBs on the offense, as he continues to work his way back from torn ACL. King has been godsend for this program in multiple ways.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) April 6, 2021
- 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?
Manny Diaz on the WR’s “The entire group has made progress. Mike Harley is still the leader of the group. Keyshawn Smith, we still feel he has a bright future.” Mentions Charleston Rambo, Dee Wiggins, Xavier Restrepo and others.— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) April 6, 2021
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?
Gurvan Hall on the young WRs: "They're competing. Last year, some of the young guys were kind of scared...Now it's a different story. [Xavier] Restrepo gives me problems sometimes...He has really opened my eyes this whole spring."— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) March 30, 2021
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?
Michael Redding says he's learned a lot working with Mike Harley and Dee Wiggins.— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) March 31, 2021
"They're teaching me how to move on to the next play and how to make the next play, so we can get better."
- 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.
Miami OC Rhett Lashlee recently said that he is going to change the way he uses the RBs and give one of the backs the lion’s share of the carries.— Canes Access (@CanesAccess) April 7, 2021
Who do you think will take over in 2021? pic.twitter.com/08ipU1sAXw
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.
Happy Birthday, Cam’Ron Harris! pic.twitter.com/mnWr22Yjwi— GO ‘CANES! (@83_87_89_91_01) March 30, 2021
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.
Corey Flagg Jr. is the player I have my eye on the most, this season.— Jasmaine P. ✍ (@Truly_Jas) March 15, 2021
I truly believe he is emerging as LB1. He displayed on social media, early in the offseason, that he is coming for Dan Morgan.
It all started with his offseason workout, boxing, to elevate his mechanics. pic.twitter.com/puZB8DwTOh
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.
Keep hearing good things about Avery Huff so far this spring. Him and Corey Flagg name keeps coming up immediately. Fast and physical— Caneville (@caneville305) March 30, 2021
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.
Coach Jonathan Patke on Sam Brooks Jr. “We know Sam can play. He’ll be in the mix.”— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) March 30, 2021
Says Brooks is still being treated for an injury he had last year
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.
Travaris Robinson on Avantae Williams skills: "He's getting comfortable and adjusted to playing football again. He's a very physical guy. We got to clean up some technical issues." Mentions Williams needs to keep his head up, not duck.— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) March 31, 2021
“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.
Gurvan Hall calls Avantae Williams "an animal" on the field— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) March 30, 2021
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?
Gurvan Hall on Avantae Williams “It’s really just him. I’ve been watching him since he’s in high school. He’s an animal. You might be hearing his name just a little bit more.”— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) March 30, 2021