Miami is set at starting quarterback with Jacory Harris but has questions at No. 2. The Hurricanes have a large stable of running backs and an even bigger corps of wide receivers, but has some questions up front.
It's almost the same situation the Hurricanes were in a year ago heading into the spring.
Six starters return on offense this time around, but only two are on the line.
The Hurricanes are looking to replace tackles Jeff Fox and Matt Pipho and center A.J. Trump from last season's 9-4 team, though Orlando Franklin, who started at guard, will assume Fox's spot on the left side.
There are strong candidates for the other positions as well, but injuries have slowed progress. Franklin started drills but was sidelined with an undisclosed injury.
Brandon Washington, who had two starts at guard, has a possible knee injury, and Joel Figueroa, a returning starter at guard, is out for the spring after having shoulder surgery.
Of the eight or so healthy linemen, two are true freshmen (Malcolm Bunche and Shane McDermott) who enrolled early, and another three are redshirt freshmen (Jermaine Johnson, Jared Wheeler and Cory White).
Coach Randy Shannon, however, downplayed the impact of the absence of Franklin, Figueroa and Washington.
"It really doesn't, because it's not the season," he said when asked how it affected the line. "It gets a lot of guys a lot of reps, and they build on that. Guys can see different formations, learn from it.
"The more reps you get, the better player you become. You can see the improvement from day one to now, see the offensive line really improving."
Though the Hurricanes will have five new starters on offense, they look solid on defense where eight starters return.NOTES, QUOTES
SPRING OBJECTIVES: With QB Jacory Harris out after having hand surgery, Miami is looking to establish a No. 2 quarterback. Candidates are A.J. Highsmith, who made only a couple of brief appearances as a freshman last fall, and newcomers Spencer Whipple and Stephen Morris. Morris is an early enrollee who signed in February. Whipple is a walk-on and the son of offensive coordinator Mark Whipple.
With the injury situation up front, final answers on the situation on the offensive line likely won't come until the fall. Tight end also has questions.
Coach Randy Shannon said the main emphasis for the Hurricanes is simply to get tougher. He pointed out the close losses the Hurricanes had a year ago essentially were decided in the closing minutes, including one in overtime to Clemson.
BUILDING BLOCKS: WRs Leonard Hankerson, Aldarius Johnson, Thearon Collier, LaRon Byrd, Travis Benjamin, Tommy Streeter and Kendal Thompkins give Miami a talented and deep receiving corps. All have big-play capability.
QB Jacory Harris returns as the starter on offense, but he's going to have to stay healthy as there is no meaningful experience behind him.
RB Graig Cooper returns as the starter, and there is depth behind him as well with Damien Berry looking to play an expanded role.
Defensively, LB Sean Spence is looking to bounce back from what he considered a subpar season that was a result of a knee injury. CB Brandon Harris is an all-star candidate in the secondary, and DE Allen Bailey is strong up front. LB Colin McCarthy also is solid, and S Vaughn Telemaque, also a returning starter, was having a solid spring.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've told him he has to become the complete guy. He has to be a guy that can pass protect and run routes, but also he has to be a guy that can run outside and do other things besides run the ball up the middle. I told him still keep that physical part of you, but let's improve on your ability to help us out as a team." -- Coach Randy Shannon, on senior RB Damien Berry, who gave the Hurricanes a lift last year with his hard running inside.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 OUTLOOK: The Hurricanes should have a solid defensive unit with the return of eight starters, though CB Brandon Harris was the only one who started all 13 games. The key will be coming up with a player who can make a play that can turn around a game, something the team has lacked in the last three or four years. The big issue on offense will be keeping QB Jacory Harris healthy and providing him with time to throw. He got off to a hot start in 2009 but interceptions became an issue when his protection began to fail him.
RB Lamar Miller -- The redshirt freshman has put himself in the picture at running back even with the return of veterans Graig Cooper, Damien Berry, and Lee Chambers.
RB Storm Johnson -- An early enrollee, Johnson also has made a good impression with his hard running in the spring. He had 114 yards on just 10 carries in the first public scrimmage.
TE Billy Sanders -- With Richard Gordon the only returnee with any experience, Sanders should see significant time as a redshirt freshman in 2010.
LB Tyrone Cornelius -- A freshman out of Stone Mountain, Ga., Cornelius is one of six early enrollees taking part in spring practice. The Hurricanes need depth at the position, which will get him a long look.
--LB Sean Spence, who injured a knee and missed three games last fall, is "starting off fast," coach Randy Shannon told the Palm Beach Post. CB Brandon Harris said Spence "couldn't be better. He looks great, fast, physical."
--DE Adewale Ojomo, who missed last season after his jaw was broken by a punch from a walk-on teammate, has added a few pounds and is up in the 260 area after dropping to under 220 pounds with the injury.
--QB Jacory Harris, RG Joel Figueroa, and RB Graig Cooper were the big names being held out spring practice but other notables missing workouts were P-PK Matt Bosher, RB Lee Chambers, LB Jordan Futch and LB Ramon Buchanan. DT Marcus Forston and DBs Ryan Hill and JoJo Nicholas were limited. The school lists the injuries simply as "lower extremity" or "upper extremity."
--Miami signed top prospect Latwan Anderson out of Cleveland, Ohio, to a track scholarship that will convert to football when he plays in a game, which could be as early as this fall. Anderson earlier had committed to West Virginia. By signing a track scholarship, Anderson will try to follow the same path as former Hurricane WR Santana Moss.
Previous Report: 04/28/2010