10 Things we learned from fall camp

The Hurricanes have completed fall camp. They will resume practice tomorrow, beginning opening week preparations against FAU. Here are 10 things we learned over the last few weeks of camp.

1. This is, by far, the best conditioned team Al Golden's had at Miami.
Every year, just before the start of fall camp, a college football team will go through a conditioning test. Some of Miami's most successful teams over the last couple decades were also some of its best conditioned ones. And some of its least successful teams were also some of its least conditioned teams. According to Golden and some of his players, there were a lot of players who failed the conditioning test prior to the 2011 and 2012 seasons. That all changed this year, as every player on the team successfully finished it. What does that mean? It will likely result in fewer injuries that often occur when players are tired during games, and it likely means this will be a much better 4th quarter team than the previous couple.

2. This is, by far, the deepest team Golden's had at Miami.
Depth has been a major issue in each of Golden's first two seasons here. Especially last season, the coaches had to rely on too many younger players who weren't quite ready for the big lights. This year, that's changed. "A lot of positions are still up for grabs, and we've never had that here," Golden said at the end of fall camp. Competition makes players better. While the Canes aren't fully back to where Golden and his staff want things from a depth standpoint, things are much better on that front than the previous two seasons.

3. Running back depth could become an issue.
Heading into fall camp it was unclear which side of the ball freshmen Ray Lewis and Corn Elder would play on. They both went on defense. Danny Dillard was expected to provide depth. He's now gone. Gus Edwards was expected to push for immediate playing time. Instead, he spent several days in street clothes while the NCAA had to verify his eligibility. The Canes have one of the best running backs in college football but the depth behind Duke Johnson is a bit concerning heading into the opening week.

4. Wide receiver depth is an issue.
Allen Hurns and Rashawn Scott have not been full participants this entire camp. Malcolm Lewis, while very close to being 100-percent, has been held out a few times. Jonbtavious Carter and D'Mauri Jones haven't been able to crack the depth chart yet. The Canes have a talented group but even Golden made it a point to say he was concerned about the depth at this position earlier this week when asked about it.

5. Clive Walford is still the team's best tight end.
Asante Cleveland entered fall camp as a starter for the second year in a row. And for the second year in a row, Walford beat him out. The Canes signed the nation's top Juco tight end in the 2013 class when they landed Beau Sandland. Expected to push for playing time this season, Sandland has been unable to catch Walford yet. Clive had a strong finish to his 2012 season, and look for that to pick up again starting next week.

6. The Hurricanes still have six guys who could be considered starters along the offensive line.
There have been a few key injuries to the depth at this position (Hunter Knighton is out for the season, while Danny Isidora is out for about half the season) but the six primary guys all remain in the mix to become starters. It appears the Canes will enter the season with co-starters at at least one spot along the offensive line. There have been years when the Canes entered the season with two solid starters. Now they have six.

7. The recent defensive line transfers turned out to be hugely important.
David Gilbert and Justin Renfrow were talked about as possible additions to the roster over the summer. When fall camp started, neither player was eligible. That changed a couple weeks ago, and after just one scrimmage both players are now listed on the two-deep as guys who will provide much needed depth at a thin position for the Hurricanes. Look for both players to play big roles in 2013.

8. A handful of true freshmen appear ready to make an impact.
Stacy Coley has been lighting it up for the last few weeks. He will likely see the field right away. Quan Muhammad is a very talented pass rusher, who will likely play a key role in passing situations right away this season. We knew from his strong spring that Alex Figueroa would be a factor at linebacker. That hasn't changed. In the secondary, Artie Burns has already passed Larry Hope pulled even with Nate Dortch as the team's fourth cornerback.

9. Pat O'Donnell is better than what we expected.
Everyone knew he could punt. We saw that for the last few years at Cincinnati. According to Golden, however, he's been even better than they expected. And he's providing leadership. The Canes went from losing an All-ACC caliber punter in Dalton Botts to landing a transfer from a player who will likely have a really strong season for the Canes.

10. There is still no word from the NCAA, and no one seems to know when something will be announced.
Miami fans talk about this every day. They have for the last couple years. For over a year now we've heard of possible announcement dates and sanctions. There is still no word. The team has pressed on, and has seemingly prepared for the upcoming season without much distraction from this. We just have to sit tight, enjoy supporting the team, and be prepared at any time for the announcement of penalties.

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