Good day Eye on The U readers. I'm out here at Doral this week for the WGC-CA Championship, helping out Jeff Shain with our coverage. As you can see there has been a change with Eye on The U, notably the departure of Susan Miller Degnan from this blog. SMD, our lead football beat writer, will now have a Q&A Forum and I will be in charge of this blog.
And while I know the name of this blog leads you to believe this blog will entirely be about The University of Miami, I want to reiterate I do not cover The U fulltime. I'm the lead basketball writer for the Hurricanes and the No. 2 writer on football. Therefore, while this blog will continue to have an Eye on The U, it will also be about a few other things: like whatever I'm covering for a particular week, important high school sports (which I covered for six years) and recruiting, which I pretty much handle in a leading role for The Herald.
With that said, my passion will still be the Canes. And since I won't be out at UM again until Saturday morning's scrimmage, I'll fill you in on what's been happening at Greentree practice field from some of my sources out there.
One of them is incoming receiver Kayne Farquharson. Kayne, who is sitting out this spring, tells me he's got a solid C in the Science Class he is taking at Miami-Dade College this semester. To get into UM, Kayne told me he needs to maintain the C average. So far, he's scored a 76, 82 and 75 on his first three exams and still has one more test before his final. "I'm going to pass it baby," Kayne told me. "You'll see me out there in the summer."
I asked Kayne for a critique of the position everyone is most interested in this spring -- quarterback. His response: "To be honest, both those guys are doing real well. They've been putting the ball on the money every time. It's going to be a tight race."
If that's truly the case, we'll find out soon enough. Since Kirby Freeman and Kyle Wright will be off limits to the media until the fall and since The Commander (Randy Shannon) is staying mum on the subject, Saturday morning's scrimmage (open to the public) will be the first true look anyone outside of The U will get of the QB situation. I'm still of the opinion offensive coordinator Patrick Nix will end up choosing Freeman and his playmaking abilities for the season opener against Marshall.
In other news, the injury bug -- which pummeled UM last season during camp -- has reared its ugly head again. The offensive line currently has six healthy blockers and is interchanging two players at center in Andrew Bain and Matt Pipho, who are really handling snapping for the first time in their college career. It might not be a bad thing, though. Shannon wants all of his lineman to be able to play at least two positions. New offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, meanwhile, is working the healthy guys out intensely. The focus is losing weight and being quick instead of being big and slow.
"It's definitely a fast pace," Farquharson said. "Those guys are busting their [butts]. Even though they only got six, it still looks like a full squad out there. They're doing a good job."
Receiver and defensive back are other thin positions with injuries. The four healthy receivers are Ryan Hill, Sam Shields, Lance Leggett and Khalil Jones. I asked Farquharson if any DBs were working in at receiver. He said no.
I asked Farquharson togive me an idea of who might be making the biggest splash. His response: "Cooper." As in Graig "Super" Cooper. The incoming freshman has made a few big plays in the early going of camp including Wednesday's first real extensive workout in pads when Farquharson said he took a screen pass and scored from 60 yards out. With the Commander's notion of having his best players on the field, I wouldn't be suprised if Cooper and James often find themselves on the field next year at the same time. They really might end up being the best backfield combination in the country if they are as good as advertised.
Aside from Cooper's development and the battle of the quarterbacks, the next most important storyline I think for the Hurricanes this spring is the continued development of star defensive end Calais Campbell. Big C was one of 43 players named to the Lombardi Watch List. Last season, he was a genuine surprise for opponents and finished the season with 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss, fourth in the nation. Not to take anything away from Big C's super sophomore season, but people forget how much help he honestly had on the defensive line last year -- especially from the defensive tackle spot. He had Baraka Atkins and Kareem Brown causing havoc and helping him out. This year, he'll need similar support to avoid double teams as much as possible. I'm not saying Big C can't handle double teams, I'm just pointing out he'll definitely face bigger challenges this season.
OK, I've got to get out to the golf course. The first few guys are coming in. So far, Robert Allenby leads the field at five ynder. Tiger is struggling a bit at -1 under. Well, struggling for Tiger anyway.