Observations and reaction from UM’s spring game Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium:
### You thought defense was this team’s biggest concern? Quarterback play might now be atop the Hurricanes' list of worries.
Kevin Olsen and Gray Crow did little to elicit confidence during this pseudo scrimmage, at least during the 11-on-11 portion, which was played on a 65-yard field. And the offense produced only seven points in 11-on-11 play, which spanned 75 minutes (of real life time, not game time).
Olsen finished 7 for 21 for 65 yards and one pick. Crow was 9 for 20 for 63 yards and one pick. Neither threw a touchdown in 11 on 11 drills, with Miami's only score coming on a Walter Tucker three-yard run.
Al Golden said afterward that Olsen “is clearly ahead” of Crow. But Golden said: “We need someone to emerge who can execute.”
While I still make Olsen the favorite to open the season as the starter, I would no longer be shocked if Brad Kaaya – who arrives in May – wins the job.
In fairness, Olsen didn’t take many first-team reps in spring ball until this past week (following Ryan Williams’ injury) and Crow never expected to be No. 2 on the depth chart.
But it’s clear both quarterbacks need a lot of work.
Olsen’s first three 11-on-11 possessions went quickly, ending in what would have been punts if Miami actually punted. He underthrew Phillip Dorsett and overthrew Stacy Coley on the first.
Ufomba Kamalu sacked him on the second possession. He overthrew Clive Walford on his third possession, which ended with Gus Edwards being tackled for a two-yard loss on third and one.
Olsen’s fourth possession ended when he overthrew Malcolm Lewis.
On Olsen’s fifth possession of the 11-on-11 portion of the scrimmage, Olsen finally completed a pass, a 25-yarder to Malcolm Lewis, who caught a five-yard pass on the sidelines a bit later on. Walter Tucker ended that drive with a three-yard score, the first points in the first nine possessions of the scrimmage (five quarterbacked by Olsen, four by Crow).
Olsen strung together consecutive solid throws on the sixth drive --- 14 yards to Herb Waters and 10 to Clive Walford. But that drive ended with Phillip Dorsett failing to catch a low throw.
Olsen’s seventh possession? Forgettable: A poorly thrown deep ball to Stacy Coley, which was intercepted by Tracy Howard. The eighth ended with Olsen overthrowing Lewis.
Here’s the glass-half-full perspective: Olsen has enough physical gifts to suggest that he will improve over time. He threw two impressive long touchdown throws Saturday (to Rashawn Scott and Dorsett) in one-on-one drills (against Larry Hope and Artie Burns, respectively). He made a terrific throw to Malcolm Lewis during 9-on-9 drills.
But there are going to be growing pains with Olsen if he indeed wins the job, and Miami must hope he grows up quickly enough to curb his turnovers and mistakes when the Hurricanes open in Louisville on Labor Day night.
“I would like to have performed a little better,” Olsen said. “It wasn’t nerves. We didn’t connect [on some plays]. The defense made a couple of good plays.”
### As for Crow, his best pass of the night was dropped, a 30-yarder to D’Mauri Jones.
Crow often struggled with his touch; throws on two sideline patterns were uncatchable, as were several other passes. Matt Guodis missed a 47-yard field goal on Crow’s first drive, and Crow couldn’t sustain drives the rest of the night. His sixth possession ended with a Juwon Young interception.
### Golden tried to put a positive spin on the quarterback play, noting that UM’s offense used “only about four formations.”
On Olsen’s performance, Golden said: “I thought he did a good job. He knows what he needs to do. He made the right calls. We have to execute better…. We’ll see where Ryan Williams is in late July, early August.” (Williams is not expected back for the start of the season.)
Golden praised Olsen for his poise, for making the right pre-snap reads and for not being culpable on any penalties.
### Edwards (19 carries, 70 yards) looks much improved, despite being tackled for a loss on the aforementioned short yardage play when he didn’t get any blocking in front of him. He ran hard, decisively and carried defenders with him for extra yards.
Tucker (11 carries, 36 yards) also had some strong runs, including the only touchdown of 11 on 11 drills.
“Gus is 235, Walter 220 --- that will give us physicality to complement Duke Johnson and Joseph Yearby,” Golden said. “Gus did a good job of stopping, starting, getting his shoulders squared.”
### Jermaine Grace again made his presence felt, as he did in the second scrimmage. He knocked away a pass to Walter Tucker in the flat and nearly picked off a Crow pass.
### Goudis didn’t elicit any confidence, missing two field goals, from 47 and 50 yards.
### Other notable numbers: Lewis was UM's leading receiver with three catches for 36 yards. Others with receptions: Herb Waters (3-12), Scott (2 for 33), Walford (2 for 13), Beau Sandland (1 for 3), Tucker (1 for 9), Garrett Kidd (1 for 6), Coley (1-6), Jones (1-no yards)....
Jamal Carter and Dallas Crawford led UM in tackles with five apiece... Kamalu and Anthony Chickillo had Miami's only sacks... Darrion Owens, JaWand Blue, Raphael Kirby, Olsen Pierre and Nantambu Fentress also had tackles for losses... As noted, Young and Howard had Miami's two picks...
Duke Johnson and Joseph Yearby did not participate as they recover from leg inuries. De'Andre Johnson had five carries for 11 yards.
### Golden said “a lot of positives” emerged from spring ball, “most notably... [improvement at] linebacker and safety.”... The announced crowd Saturday was 12,160.
Please check back Sunday morning for the Sunday buzz column, packed with Heat, Dolphins, Canes and Marlins.