MIAMI (CBSMiami) – College football season is still months away, but fans will get one final peek at the University of Miami Hurricanes team this Saturday when they finish practice with a spring game.
The Hurricanes won’t be alone on Saturday as more than 30 schools across the country have scheduled their respective spring games for Saturday. For the Canes, it’s all about building for the future and avoiding the distractions that surround the program.
The cloud that is the NCAA’s investigation continues to hang over the program, but head coach Al Golden has weathered the worst of the storm and has a team that he has high expectations for exiting spring ball.
It starts at the quarterback position. Last year, starter Stephen Morris could simply watch from the sidelines due to a back injury. This year, Morris is back on the field and is in charge of the offense after a solid 2012 season.
For Morris the time on the field is invaluable as he begins to whittle down who he’s going to look for when things start to heat up as the season draws near.
It really helps me understand who’s going to be my go-to guys, especially going into the summer,” Morris said. “I know guys like Allen Hurns and Phillip Dorsett, they’re going to make plays for me. I want to see Dallas Crawford play. I want to see Jontavious Carter come out. I want to see D’Mauri Jones do something special. Things like that are what you want to see.”
Last year, Miami had one of the youngest teams in the country. Freshman were all over the field and while that led to growing pains last year, it’s giving Golden a veteran presence on the field now as even more talented new players arrive to help the Canes re-establish themselves as a power.
In 2012, expectations for the Canes were low and UM finished 7-5. The Canes would have played in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, but the school self-imposed a postseason ban for the second year in a row.
With Morris on the field and a team quickly gelling around him, expectations are on the rise for UM with a conference championship not out of the realm of possibilities. It starts Saturday when the Canes see what they have to work with heading into the summer.
“I just think the biggest thing is for us to see who can execute,” Morris said. “We’re going to have a lot of people out there, we want to have fun with the fans, but we just want to execute. With the offensive plays we have, it’s not going to be anything crazy.”
One thing Golden has seen from his rapidly developing roster is the maturation of many players both on and off the field. For Golden, that’s exactly what he’s been wanting since he walked on the campus for the first time.
“I think that’s important. We’re getting more of that, I promise you,” Golden said. “It’s about those guys taking ownership and being empowered and holding each other accountable. I’m starting to see more of that.”
It’s a point that’s not lost on Morris, who has been regarded as the team’s leader for the past two seasons.
“Everyone here’s for a common goal and we have the same vision,” Morris said. “I don’t think we had that the last couple years. Now guys have matured, guys have been in the system for three years under Coach Golden and now we can see the end.”
And if that’s not enough to get Hurricanes fans excited heading into the 2013 season, the future is looking even better on the recruiting trail. The Canes have already received non-binding verbal commitments from three 4-star offensive linemen and a 4-star running back, according to Rivals.com.
The spring game on Saturday will kick off at 3 p.m. at Sun Life Stadium and parking will be free at the stadium.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)