As ACC teams begin to start practicing again, Andrea Adelson and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. Next up to open camp …
Start date: Friday
Projected finish at ACC media days: Fifth in the Coastal Division
Biggest storyline: More questions than answers. For the second consecutive year, Miami coach Al Golden is preparing for the season opener with an NCAA investigation looming over the program. The difference this year is that his name has now been attached. A Yahoo! Sports story questioned whether Golden had knowledge of recruiting violations within his program. Golden has stood behind his record of compliance, but said he has no idea when the program might get some closure on the issue. As if the NCAA investigation weren’t enough, Miami has plenty of questions on the field to answer, too. The Canes need to replace their leading rusher from a year ago, starting quarterback, two leading receivers and three starters on the offensive line.
Biggest position battle: Quarterback. With 12 starters gone from 2011, there will be competitions all over the field this month for the Canes, but none will garner more attention than at quarterback. Stephen Morris, who missed spring drills with a back injury, will try to hold off former Memphis transfer and good friend Ryan Williams. Morris has the edge in experience in offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch’s system, as he started four games as a freshman in 2010 and one last year, the season opener against Maryland. Williams, who sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules, had a good spring. As a true freshman in 2010, he started 10 games at Memphis and earned the starting job over former Miami quarterback Cannon Smith.
Who needs to step up: Safety A.J. Highsmith. With the dismissal of Ray-Ray Armstrong from the team, Highsmith is likely the next man up. The redshirt junior moved to safety last year after spending his first two seasons as a backup quarterback. Highsmith, the son of former Cane Alonzo Highsmith, finished 2011 with 12 tackles in 11 games.