10 Questions Needing Answers

Before the Canes can start thinking about a third consecutive appearance in the championship game there are some questions that need answering. We will break down the critical questions that need answering for the Canes to get where they want to be -- Bourbon Street.

1. Can Brock Berlin lead this team?

Brock Berlin has a lot of raw talent. I think he and the pass offense may struggle early. Don't be surprised if Derrick Crudup gets playing time early in the season. I think Berlin has the leadership skills that it takes to be the starting quarterback at Miami. Hurricane fans have been spoiled the last four years with having arguably the best clutch quarterback ever to play at Miami! Over all Brock will be fine if he gets time to throw and the running game clicks.

2. Is there enough senior leadership?

On senior leadership you have to start with Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams. Those two will be the keys for the defense. On offense there are few seniors. Two players that will be looked to for leadership are Vernon Carey and Kevin Beard. Jason Geathers and Jarrett Payton will also be counted on to help the younger players adjust to the next level. Overall I think this team has enough juniors and sophomores that have experience, which will help this team in its goal to get to the Sugar Bowl.

3. Can Vince Wolfork be an every down D-Tackle at his present weight (350lbs)?

Now we get to a big (literally) question. Can Vince Wolfork be an every down defensive tackle at his present weight (350 lbs.)? In my opinion I think it would be in his best interest if he were 30 lbs. lighter. The last couple of years he has been our best defensive lineman on some plays. Then disappear on others. I just think with his skills and power and quickness he would be that much better and even quicker at a lower weight. Last year it was not as noticeable because of the rotation we had. I think this year we don't have the depth we had the past two years. So he will be counted on to play more plays than ever before. Only time will tell. Santonio Thomas is coming back from an injury. Orien Harris will also be counted on to contribute. I can see true freshmen Nate Robinson or Bryan Pata from Central getting playing time. Overall if the incoming freshmen can contribute then we will be fine but we have to stay healthy!

4. Who will be the second option in the passing game after Winslow?

Who will be the go-to receiver when teams double and triple Winslow? This may be the biggest question. During the spring we didn't see a lot of the young receivers due to injury. Also Kevin Beard is still recovering from surgery. The one young receiver that had a great spring was Darnell Jenkins. He could be a sleeper. We need Jason Geathers to step up and become the next great Miami receiver. In my opinion, he can be. He will be counted on to make the catches to keep drives alive. Of course when we need the big play - throw it to Roscoe. During the spring Parrish looked like he has made major strides in his route running and especially his blocking. Which the coaches said kept him off the field last year. This team still has a run first mentality.

5. Will the defense be more opportunistic in the turnover dept and can the defensive line pressure the quarterback?

This could be the most critical area on defense. Last year this defense did not have the number of turnovers it had in 2001. I think you will see a more aggressive gambling style of defense from Randy Shannon this year. First of all the secondary is all back with one more year of experience. The defensive ends are inexperienced so look for a lot more creative blitz packages. I think you will see Sean Taylor, D.J. Williams and Jonathan Vilma in the quarterback's face a lot more often this year. Overall look for the defense to be more opportunistic. I can see Sean Taylor being one of the top interceptors in the nation.

6. Can the Special Teams be Special?

This is the biggest question mark on the team. It looks like during the spring that Mark Gent will be the kicker and Jon Peattie will compete with incoming freshman Brian Monroe for the punting duties. If Monroe wins the punting job look for teams to come after him right away. We have to be able to protect our punter while putting pressure on their's. A key to special teams is also kickoffs and field goals we must be able to kick it deep!! If not we must be able to cover them. Our kicker must also be able to make the clutch kick (ask FSU). Overall I think this is our weakest area on paper. We will need new players to step up. If not we could be in for some real adventures on special teams.

7. Can Frank Gore Stay healthy, or is he 100% now?

This is a big question mark and if Gore isn't ready to handle the load look for incoming freshman Tyrone Moss to contribute early. I can also see Quadtrine Hill being moved back to tailback if Jarrett Payton does not step up. As far as the fullback job I see Talib Humphrey pushing Kyle Cobia for playing time. Humphey had an excellent spring and is more the prototypical fullback. My prediction is that Frank Gore will be the feature back (of course) but he will not be the only back to get significant playing time. I can see Hill getting some work at tailback along with Moss and Payton.

8. How will the Defensive ends play?

This is also a concern. When all the dust settles I see Thomas Carroll and Alton Wright as your starters with possibly incoming freshman Brian Pata adding depth along with John Square. I think this group will need to gain experience but by midseason should be terrorizing opposing quarterbacks. The defensive end play will also depend on how well the tackles play inside.

9. How will the Offensive line play? (Every team has the Fiesta Bowl tape)

I think this could be a special group. The move of Eric Winston to left tackle gives the line a more athletic person to protect Brock's blind side. I think this is going to be Vernon Carey's breakout year. Once the line gets some experience working as a unit lookout!! By the first game I am predicting that Chris Myers will be the starting center Winston and Carey at the tackles with Carlos Joseph and Joe Mcgrath as the guards.

10.How will this team respond after the heartbreaking loss at the Fiesta Bowl?

My opinion is not to worry. This team with Coach Coker and the rest of the staff will not let up and will be back even stronger. As their Motto for this year says Leave no Doubt! I think when everything is said and done Canes fans will be making reservations for Bourbon St. Go Canes!

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