When rumors began to swirl about the University of Miami not holding a traditional “spring game”, fans were scratching their heads.
No spring game?
Didn’t sound right.
But, as the University of Miami released its spring football schedule Wednesday afternoon, it was confirmed that the Hurricanes will not be having a traditional spring game this year as a part of its two-month practice routine.
According to the release, the Canes will have 13 practice sessions – beginning March 21 and running until April 22. The final practice is scheduled to be held at Boca Raton High School, while all the others will be held on UM’s Greentree Practice Fields.
Sorry fans, the practices – which will be every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – are closed to the public.
The released confirmed that Miami’s lack of a spring game was due to “ongoing renovations at Hard Rock Stadium”.
Miami had a pair of spring practices – or “games” – that were open to the public in 2016; an open scrimmage at Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy and a spring game at Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium the following weekend.
Why wouldn’t the program want to put the team that ESPN called a “legitimate national title contender for 2017” on display for all to see?
Quite frankly, the Canes are bringing back one of the country’s top defensive front sevens and has Alex Donno’s Heisman Trophy sleeper Mark Walton still serving as the No. 1 ball carrier – why would they choose not to play a spring game?
Those looking to dig deeper into the reasoning behind UM not hosting a spring game may point to the fact that Hurricanes will enter the 2017 spring – and fall – trying to find a new starting quarterback.
Miami’s career passing leader Brad Kaaya has taken his talents to the pro level, and for the first time in three years – the Hurricanes will go into a spring not knowing who their starting quarterback will be.
Perhaps head coach Mark Richt would like the pending quarterback battle to play out only in front of the eyes of the coaches – not having to worry about stirring the emotions of Miami’s passionate fan base.
Ask any fan, and depending on their personal football slant, they’d give you a different answer as to who they feel should be given the reins of UM’s offense in 2017.
Richt has gone on record, multiple times, saying that the quarterback competition is wide open and that everyone involved will be given a fair shot at earning the No. 1 spot.
While all six quarterbacks on the roster will probably be given the chance to audition for the leading role; conventional wisdom would suggest that the race is really only between three – maybe four – signal callers.
Redshirt freshman Jack Allison could be considered the “favorite” – given the year he spent learning Richt’s system and physically maturing while also honing the skills that made him a 4-star recruit coming out of Palmetto (Fl.) high school. “Captain Jack”, like Kaaya, is more of a traditional pocket passer – able to stand tall in the pocket (he’s 6-foot-5) and sling the ball across the field.
Redshirt junior Malik Rosier has the most experience of the group. He appeared in 13 games through his career and notched a victory in his only start – the wacky game at Duke in 2016. Rosier did serve as Kaaya’s backup this past season, but coaches did note that they wanted to see more consistency from him during practice.
The other signal callers that have a legitimate – yet smaller – shot at the job would be fresh-faced freshmen Cade Weldon and N’Kosi Perry.
Perry is already a bit of a fan favorite. The Ocala, Florida native made fans giddy with excitement because of his highlight film-worthy dual-threat abilities, which have drawn comparisons to 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
Perry, while supremely gifted as an overall athlete, is only 170 pounds and would benefit greatly from spending a year with UM strength and conditioning coach Gus Felder adding weight to his frame before he’s thrown into the fray of a tough ACC schedule.
Weldon represents the “dark horse” in the race. He is a sturdier built 6-foot-3, 205 pounds and was a 3-star recruit. His father, Casey, was coached by Richt at Florida State and was a Heisman runner-up in 1991. So Weldon not only has the pedigree, but he’s also one of Miami’s early enrollees that are already on campus and will be able to participate spring practices.
If Weldon is able to impress coaches in March and April, Perry’s arrival in Coral Gables this summer may not make the splash that everyone thinks.
Either way, Miami’s quarterback battle probably won’t be settled in these 13 practices – no matter who is watching.