When the Hurricanes begin spring practice on March 23 they will do so with the starting right tackle and left guard positions up for grabs after the graduations of Vernon Carey and Joe McGrath.
UM also lost Carlos Joseph. Coker said freshmen Andrew Bain and Derrick Morse are the leading candidates to start at left guard. Junior college transfer Tyler McMeans will have get a chance to compete as well.
"I really like both of them (Bain and Morse)," said Coker. "But they're all probably in a group right now."
Coker said that Rashad Butler and Tony Tella will likely top the depth chart at right tackle.
"Rashad and Tony are the two that jump off the charts right now," said Coker.
Coker added that redshirt freshman Alex Pou will provide depth at several positions. The Hurricanes return starting center Joel Rodriguez, left tackle Eric Winston and right guard Chris Myers. Rodriguez, who suffered a broken leg late last season, has impressed Coker with his work ethic in the off-season.
"I really like the leadership and attitude I've seen from Joel," said Coker. "A lot of time kids think 'well I'm at Miami so it must be my time, and I think Joel fell into that a little. But I'm really proud of the way he's worked to get himself ready."
SHORT ON RBs
Frank Gore's (ACL) absence during spring drills will leave the Hurricanes with a shortage of running backs. Sophomore Tyrone Moss, who rushed for 511 yards and five touchdowns on 107 carries last season, will likely get most of the work during camp as the No. 1 back. Quadtrine Hill will back-up Moss, while Talib Humphrey could also see time at the position.
Gore will be limited to rehab in the spring, although Coker said Gore is on track to start practicing in the fall. Freshmen Bobby Washington and Charlie Jones will likely enter the mix in the fall as well.
The early departure of Kellen Winslow leaves Ryan Moore (44 receptions, 637 yards, 3 touchdowns) as the leading receiver returning for the Hurricanes. But with Moore (shoulder) out for the spring after surgery several players will be pressed to perform. That includes junior Roscoe Parrish (24 receptions, 322 yards, 29.3 ypc) and Sinorice Moss (8 receptions, 111 yards, 13.9 ypc). Sophomores Devin Hester and Akieem Jolla are also expected to contribute.
"We lost some key pieces to our passing offense so this is an opportunity for the guys here to take it to the next level," said Coker.
With Dan Werner being elevated to offensive coordinator there has been plenty of speculation that UM will throw downfield more often this season. Coker all but confirmed it. "We're definitely going to go more vertical because we need to go more vertical," said Coker. "I think that's something we need to get back to and take advantage off."
ODDS AND ENDS
Coker said that reserve tight end Buck Ortega is up to 227 pounds. Willie Cooper has impressed the coaching staff at safety. Sophomore linebacker Glenn Cook is expected to get significant playing time in the spring. Coker said Terrell Walden and Travarous Bain will add 'game-altering' speed at the defensive back position.
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