State of the Canes (8/21)

The team will hold its final scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday and a lot of position battles are still up for grabs. Read on for a full analysis of the state of the team heading into tomorrow from CanesTime's Mike Bakas.

QB: Brad Kaaya has it on lock down.

RB: None of the running backs are separating themselves from the rest so it's looking more and more like it'll be by committee, at least early in the season. Blitz pickup and ball security will likely play key roles in determining who sees the field most.

WR: Here is where things get interesting. Braxton Berrios and Malcolm Lewis have been limited lately because of injuries and both are expected to miss tomorrow's scrimmage. However, we know what they both bring to the table. They're not game changers but they can make a difference, especially Berrios, in the underneath game. Getting Rashawn Scott back is big, as he can be a big target on third down and inside the redzone. However, it's Herb Waters and Stacy Coley that can change games, scare defenses, and blow the roof off. They've been the team's most explosive receivers throughout camp and will be counted upon to help replace Phillip Dorsett.

TE: It's a loaded group, probably as talented as any group in all of college football. They each bring something different to the table. Stan Dobard is leading the way right now because of his experience and his ability to do a little bit of everything. Chris Herndon can make a difference in the passing game, and he seems ahead of David Njoku right now. Jake O'Donnell will likely be in line to receive lots of reps when the team goes into jumbo sets.

OL: The most improved unit on the offensive side of the ball in terms of depth, this group had eight players competing for five spots last year. Now they have 13 guys competing to be in the rotation. We know that Trevor Darling and K.C. McDermott will likely be the starting tackles. It's just a matter of which one plays on which side. Darling is more likely to be on the left side. Nick Linder and Danny Isidora are returning starters who have had solid camps so they seem safe as starters. Alex Gall seems to be hanging onto that fifth spot right now. Two of the five incoming freshmen - Tyree St. Louis and Tyler Gauthier - have separated themselves which means Bar Milo, Brendan Loftus, and Hayden Mahoney are likely headed toward redshirts.

DE: There are six guys in the mix for playing time right now. The Canes use a traditional strongside defensive end (it was Anthony Chickillo last year) and the leader to be the starter there is Chad Thomas, who's having a strong camp. Jelani Hamilton and RJ McIntosh are behind him. The other spot is still wide open. Quan Muhammad is expected to win the job but Trent Harris is giving everything he has, and regardless of who wins the job he's expected to be heavily in the mix. Demetrius Jackson is also making progress.

DT: Arguably the deepest position on the entire team because of how the younger guys are playing lately, this position has been hugely upgraded over the last couple years. Calvin Heurtelou was a starter all of last season and has been leading the group of nose tackles. Mike Wyche is still in the mix and Ryan Fines has also spent time at the nose. Kendrick Norton has been the most impressive freshman and he's trying to get into the rotation at the nose as well. The tackle position is wide open between Courtel Jenkins and Ufomba Kamalu. Jenkins could play nose while Kamalu will likely stay on the field when UM goes to its speed rush package (when Thomas would jump inside as well). Anthony Moten is very talented and it's time for him to make a push.

LB: Raphael Kirby and Jermaine Grace have starting jobs pretty well locked up because of their experience and camp performances so far. The starter on the strongside is still unknown because of how close the competition between Tyriq McCord and Darrion Owens has been. Both players are potential difference makers so they'll likely both play a lot. McCord's biggest impact will likely be when UM goes into its speed/pass rush package when he can rush the quarterback from the edge. Depth is a bit of a concern here. There are lots of bodies but the best one - Juwon Young - has been injured and will be held from tomorrow's scrimmage. The rest are still young and unproven.

CB: The Canes are working with just three primary veterans -- Tracy Howard, Artie Burns, and Corn Elder. The one who doesn't win a starting job is expected to become the team's nickel corner. Sheldrick Redwine has been the most impressive freshman but the other two - Michael Jackson and Terrance Hanley - could see time because of the injuries to Ryan Mayes and the lack of depth otherwise. Because of the depth at safety, Deon Bush could end up seeing time here (as he did some in the spring).

S: Another loaded position, the Canes have plenty of options here. Four guys are in the mix for a starting spot. Bush is the best when he's healthy and not playing corner. Rayshawn Jenkins is a returning starter from 2013 but both Dallas Crawford (because of his experience and knowledge of the system) and Jamal Carter (because of his ability to make plays) are making it tough for Jenkins to regain his starting job back. Freshman Jaquan Johnson is also expected to see time. Robert Knowles is talented but has been dealing with some injury issues lately.

ST: Mike Badgley has missed some time with an injury but is fully expected to participate in tomorrow's scrimmage. He returns as the team's kicker while punter Justin Vogel is enjoying a solid camp.

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