Miami spring wrap

May, 8, 2012
5/08/12
8:30
AM ET
2011 overall record: 6-6
2011 conference record: 3-5 (T-4th, Coastal)
Returning starters: Offense: 4; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners
WR Allen Hurns, TE Clive Walford, RT Jon Feliciano, RG Brandon Linder, DE Anthony Chickillo, DT Darius Smith, LB James Gaines, LB Denzel Perryman, CB Brandon McGee, S Vaughn Telemaque

Key losses
WR Travis Benjamin, WR Tommy Streeter, LT Brandon Washington, LG Harland Gunn, C Tyler Horn, QB Jacory Harris, RB Lamar Miller, DE Marcus Robinson, DT Adewale Ojomo, LB Sean Spence, CB Mike Williams, S JoJo Nicolas

2011 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Lamar Miller (1,271 yards)
Passing: Jacory Harris (2,486 yards)
Receiving: Tommy Streeter (811 yards)
Tackles: Sean Spence (106)
Sacks: Anthony Chickillo*/Marcus Robinson (5)
Interceptions: JoJo Nicolas (2)

Spring answers

1. Ryan Williams can challenge Stephen Morris: Williams received most of the spring reps with Morris sidelined, and the Memphis transfer should enter preseason camp with a chance to overtake Morris for the No. 1 spot. That's all the Hurricanes can hope for with Morris recovering from back surgery.

2. The defense should be OK: Yes, some of that ugly 7-6 final from the spring game has to be blamed on putrid offense, but the defense deserves plenty of credit for forcing five turnovers. The unit also forced 10 sacks and picked off three passes in the team's March 30 scrimmage. The Canes return six starters from a defense that ranked 17th nationally in scoring in 2011.

3. Running backs stepping up: Al Golden has praised Mike James and Eduardo Clements this spring for both their performances on the field and their leadership off it. A strong showing from the duo will certainly ease the loss of Lamar Miller, but that could depend more on the progress of the offensive line than anything else.

Fall questions

1. What will Morris be like upon return? No one wants to lose his job to injury, and Morris surely noticed the performance of Williams this spring. Morris was able to take reps toward the end of spring without pads, which is certainly encouraging, but how he fares against defenses remains to be seen.

2. How soon can newcomers contribute? Golden landed the nation's No. 8 recruiting class for 2012, and many of the rookies can't get to campus soon enough. Miami lost 30 players this past season and has questions at receiver, in the secondary and along the offensive line. Spots could be there for the taking, so seeing which newcomers step up early will be interesting.

3. About that elephant in the room … Coaches and players will repeat that they only worry about what they can control, but the black cloud from the Nevin Shapiro scandal won't stop looming over the program until the NCAA delivers its ruling. The day that comes will be a welcome relief for the program, dark as that day may be. But if Golden could lure the No. 8 recruiting class despite the scandal, imagine what he could do once it subsides.

Matt Fortuna | email

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