Scrimmage: 5 things to look for

The Hurricanes will have their second scrimmage of the spring when they take the field at 7 pm tonight in Naples. Here are some of the key things to watch for tonight.

1) Which of the backup quarterbacks will separate himself?
Everyone knows Stephen Morris is clearly the team's starting quarterback. And a very good one. The backup situation remains unsettled. Ryan Williams has the edge on experience. Gray Crow brings more to the table from a talent standpoint. Both have been competing for the backup job since the start of spring. It's been very close up until now. Can one of them start to separate himself with a strong performance tonight? You never want to rely on a backup but the Canes had to in a game against North Carolina last season when Morris went down. They ended up losing it. Having a good backup quarterback is key, especially when your quarterback has a tendency to try running over defenders at times.

2) Can the young offensive line hold up better against the experienced defense?
The defensive line won the battle at the line of scrimmage in the first scrimmage. They created a lot of pressure, and made it difficult for Miami to get a lot going on the ground. A big part of what was due to three starters being out. Brandon Linder, Shane McDermott, and Jon Feliciano have started nearly 90 games combined. That's a lot of experience not in the starting lineup this spring. It's giving players like Danny Isidora and Taylor Gadbois a chance to really step up. It'll be interesting to see how much they have improved, if any, since the last scrimmage.

3) Will the defense be able to limit the big plays?
Miami's offense relied heavily on the big play last season. With the amount of speed at receiver and having Morris back at quarterback likely means the Canes will again throw it down the field often this season. Can the defense hold up against that? It'll be a positive sign if the defense can prevent the big plays, because Miami's offense should be one of the top big play units in the ACC.

4) Which players will start to emerge at certain position battles?
We talked about the backup quarterback spot. Either Malcolm Bunche or Ereck Flowers will likely be the starting tackle opposite Seantrel Henderson this fall. Which one of those guys will begin to emerge? Luther Robinson has been edging out Curtis Porter for the second defensive tackle spot. Will that trend continue? Jimmy Gaines and Raphael Kirby are neck and neck at linebacker. Antonio Crawford and Tracy Howard have been competing hard at cornerback. The list goes on. We should learn a lot more about those battles tonight.

5) Can the team stay relatively healthy?
Dyron Dye was the only significant injury that happened in the team's first scrimmage. He will be out for the rest of spring. This team doesn't have a whole lot of depth still. They can't afford too many costly injuries. Coming out of tonight without losing anyone else for the rest of spring would be huge.


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