College football season far from starting up but that doesn’t mean it’s quiet in practice facilities and locker rooms across the country. Spring practice is in full swing but there seems to be something odd about the environment at Miami. It’s seems too quiet and normal in Coral Gables, FL. There are no current investigations, no recruiting dilemmas, and no speculation about head coach Al Golden’s future.
So, have the Hurricanes finally got their ducks in the a row? Fifth-year senior Ryan Williams has secured the starting QB job, even though some anticipated a quarterback competition. But, you won’t find a controversy here.
Miami has completed half of spring practices drama free. According to ESPN, when Golden was asked about the calmness that has settled over his football program, he smiled and put his arms in the air, like he had just won a big game.
“It’s been just so much fun just coaching football. It’s almost like a foundation’s in place. They know what the standards are. They’re doing all the little things you need to do, so it’s been good. It’s been a lot of fun. Some guys have stepped up and that’s helped us improve our team. I’m excited about where we are.”
With the official end of the NCAA’s investigation into the program last October, everybody can finally move forward and it shows on the field. Progress is already being made and it started last season when the Hurricanes jumped to a 7-0 start and a No. 7 ranking. Still, Miami finished 9-4, which is their best record since 2009.
But, obviously, the hard work is far from over. Miami is still slightly below the scholarship limit because of the NCAA sanctions and depth is not where the staff wants it to be. They also don’t want to forget about the defense, which ranked among the worst in the ACC. Golden got a lot of backlash during the offseason for retaining defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio from a fan base looking for an easy “scapegoat.”
The Hurricanes now have an upgraded defense that will take the field in 2014. They are more experienced and more talented, so improvement is expected.
Golden believes his team will play together and he told ESPN that he expects them to be more cohesive next season.
“We’re not where we want to be. We’re not. The players know that. We’re going to keep moving it forward. We haven’t had one cycle that’s been a normal recruiting cycle, so for all the things that we’re not right now, I’m not going to make excuses for what these guys have achieved during a very difficult time, almost an impossible time.”
Offensively, the Hurricanes are greeted with the task of breaking in a new starting quarterback. There was an anticipated intense competition between fifth-year senior Ryan Williams and redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen for the starting job, but Williams has set himself apart as the front-runner this spring.
Williams spent the past two seasons backing up Stephen Morris so he’s ready for his starting role. He has both immense experience and maturity. Golden says that so far this spring, Williams is completing about 70 percent of his passes.
Williams seems to be very excited about the upcoming season and it seems the whole team feels the same way. With the newfound calmness, the Canes can finally get back to focusing on football.
For more on this story visit: Andrea Adelson, ESPN