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Tuesday afternoon UM football update: More encouraging signs from Olsen, news and notes

Quick hits from UM spring football practice, which resumed this morning spring break:

### In the Canes’ fifth practice of the spring, Kevin Olsen continued to show clear improvement from the fall. His accuracy has improved, and he appears more decisive in the pocket, though he did throw an interception to linebacker Juwon Young today.

"Kevin right now is having a really good spring,” Al Golden said. “He's really mature, doing all the little things you need a quarterback to do and it's showing on the field. He's distributing the ball really well for us, running it. He has to continue to raise his confidence level and continue to lead, but that'll come the more comfortable he is with the offense."

Ryan Williams was up and down Tuesday and at one point missed a wide open Standish Dobard in the end zone on a short throw. But Golden said: “He’s having an excellent spring. Ryan’s accuracy is evident on the field. Not a lot of balls on the ground. His percentage has been high. That’s what he can do. Every guy we have has a different talent; his is his ability to read it conceptually, diagnose it and get the ball out quickly.”

Williams remains the front-runner for the job, but this is far from a slam dunk. This battle likely will extend well into August, and Olsen continues his ascent, it will be a more difficult decision than UM envisioned.

### Though Dallas Crawford has had growing pains adjusting to safety, Golden said he still believes that’s his best chance to get on the field and there's no thought of returning him to running back.

### Golden said tight end Jake O'Donnell "has had a really good spring. He's up to about 254. Clive (Walford's) absence has benefited him. He's getting a lot of work and is really coming through for us. Jake's one of our fastest tight ends."

### When Anthony Chickillo returns from a foot injury, Ufomba Kamalu and Al-Quadin Muhammad will battle for the end spot opposite him. Chickillo is resting the foot as a precaution.

With “(Anthony) Moten in the wing we have a chance to really improve that position in the fall," Golden said. "Right now we have Quan and Tyriq McCord at the other end with Trent (Harris) and those other guys behind them. Demetrius Jackson can play that spot too. That's probably the best depth we've had there from start to finish. It's going to be a lot of competition."

### Chickillo is pleased he decided to return to UM instead of going pro: “I’m happy. It’s a chance to raise my stock.”

Golden said he’s encouraged by the play of the defensive tackles, but we want to see it for ourselves in September. “Jelani Hamilton has to keep coming on,” Golden said. “It’s time for him.”

What stands out about defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou, an early enrollee? “His strength,” Golden said. “Oh my God. Really strong.”

Chickillo said Heurtelou reminds him of former Cane Micanor Regis.

Golden reiterated he hopes to get a big contribution from summer arrival Michael Wyche at defensive tackle. Earl Moore continues to get first-team tackle reps opposite Olsen Pierre, who’s the best of the group. Olsen and Wyche assuredly will be in the tackle rotation; at least two others must emerge.

### For those looking for encouraging morsels about the defense, there’s this, which shouldn’t be overstated: “They were more physical and tougher than the offense today,” Golden said. “The offense is going to have to regroup."

### Golden said Hunter Knighton, out of the hospital after collapsing and losing consciousness on the practice field several weeks ago, "is being integrated right now. Our biggest concern right now is getting him caught up on school. The next step is getting back to football." Golden declined to speculate on a timetable.

### Cornerback Artie Burns made it clear he hopes to unseat an older player for a starting job: “I feel I can go in and start.”

### Tim Harris said his new role at UM is almost identical to the one he had at UM under Randy Shannon “but I feel more comfortable doing it. I understand the roles.”

He needs to graduate from college to be able to coach, and Harris said he is two semesters away from doing that. “I know I can coach,” he said. “My record speaks for itself.”

By the way, Erik Spoelstra said Greg Oden will get his second straight start for the Heat tonight, in Cleveland. Check back tonight for Heat, Dolphins, Marlins and a few more Canes items I heard today.