The Hurricanes' quarterback race is about to get real tight.
After Wednesday's first scrimmage, Al Golden and his assistant coaches at Miami will dissect the film, likely discuss it ad nauseum and put out a depth chart that reveals the two frontrunners.
Those two, whom it seems fairly evident will be Jake Heaps and Brad Kaaya -- or Brad Kaaya and Jake Heaps -- will get the bulk of the snaps with the first team until a starter likely is announced after next Monday's second scrimmage.
There is a point system, Coley said on Saturday, that helps determine the outcome, or at least plays a part in it.
“We are grading them,” Coley said Saturday. “Not only are they getting pluses and minuses, but they are getting points for certain things they do on the field, and they are getting points taken away for certain things they do … and we are searching for who has the highest number of points.”
"It’s a negative point against them, so sacks and picks, if it’s caused by them, like a sack coverage is a negative on them, an interception is a negative on them. But they get points for other things as well, and it’s all within the point value that we have."
MY COMMENT: Just from observation, it appears that Jake Heaps has thrown more interceptions than Brad Kaaya, but I have not counted and have not seen every interception.
How tough is it going to be to narrow this down to 2 qbs after this scrimmage?
"Yeah, it’s going to be tough and it’s going to be tough going into the scrimmage with taking out the hot…If a guy has a hot hand and putting in the next guy. Even ask coaches. We want to win the scrimmage too. But we have to make sure that the guys get the reps that they get and we’re able to put enough on film that we can take upstairs and we can evaluate, we can grade and we can make decisions -- and the biggest thing is, make corrections so we can develop them."
Here are Coley's comments on Malik Rosier, who also will play baseball for UM:
"Malik does some good things as well. He came in at the end of practice. He’s got such a strong arm and he’s such a great athlete. He’s right where he’s supposed to be, maybe a little ahead of where he’s supposed to be coming in and being a true freshman.
"There are times like the end of practice right here where he showed some good stuff and fired some really great, accurate footballs and took control of the team."
Are Kevin Olsen and Ryan Williams in the mix to be the top two?
"Well, we’ve got to see with Ryan. There are certain things he can do, there are certain things he can’t do yet. There are certain things we’re not comfortable with him doing medically. Olsen is going to get his shot in the scrimmage as well."
AL GOLDEN'S COMMENTS FROM MONDAY ON SCRIMMAGE:
"It’s going to be ones-ones, twos-twos and situations, just spot the ball in all the areas of the field that we’re working right now to make sure we can respond the way we need them to respond without the coaching. So, we’ll do that. And then the second [scrimmage] is more up and down the field. Just play it."
Do you know which QB is going to start with the ones?
"I don’t. We’re going to discuss that tomorrow and go from there."
Again, (as Golden would say) here's the head coach's comment about how close the quarterback competition has turned out:
“Man, it’s tight. It’s tight. … It’s just unbelievable when you think about it. Couple weeks ago, it was three guys who we hadn’t seen, you know? Really. They squeezed it down pretty good. It’s a heck of a battle, and I’m excited by their work ethic, their commitment to this team, how much they’re learning and clearly, you guys know, there’s execution going on. The balls aren’t on the ground a lot. So that’s good. And uh, we’ll see how it plays out. I mean … I thought it was going to be a little easier to narrow it down to two by Thursday, but it’s going to be tricky. We’ll just play it by ear other the next three days and see what happens.”
With Brad, is there anything he shows you that makes you think he couldn’t handle at Louisville?
“Zero. Zero percent. Poise, maturity, confidence, self-assured. And you know, a guy that turned a program around in his league and won a whole bunch in a row. Good leader right now, finding the reads he needs to find. Doing what he needs to do. Good start for him. We’ll get the bullets flying on Wednesday. It’s going to be a great challenge for all our quarterbacks.”
***So, UM fans, you likely haven't seen any of the closed practices, but what in your gut would you LIKE to happen? Who would you like to be the starting quarterback at Louisville on Labor Day night while millions of people are watching on national television? (Yes, that would be very intimidating for any new UM starter, whether it be Jake Heaps or Brad Kaaya).
At first I was convinced it would be Jake Heaps. I'm still leaning toward thinking they'll pick Heaps. He has the experience playing major college football, a lot of it, and that's invaluable. But honestly, after watching Kaaya in action, it has made me not as certain. I think they'd love to redshirt Kaaya, and maybe use Rosier if they need him. Kaaya still has a lot of learning to do when it comes to analyzing complex blitzes or defensive schemes coming at him -- and I'm talking about coming at him during a game, the best teacher in the long run. But there's no doubt that if he stays healthy, he has a huge ceiling. Everything about Brad Kaaya screams "big future." Golden knows he needs to win this season, and if Kaaya is the one, then...
Suffice it to say this scrimmage Wednesday will be important.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN