ACC: Malik Rosier

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August, 6, 2014
Kevin Olsen may or may not be suspended, still. Miami has not confirmed the report, and neither has the man himself. But the most telling sign of the Hurricanes' current quarterback situation came Tuesday, when Jake Heaps ran with the first team during the first day of fall practice.

Olsen was there, as were true freshmen Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier. Kaaya looked strong, per the Palm Beach Post's Matt Porter. Original starter Ryan Williams was also at practice, albeit in a very limited capacity, tossing some light throws.

Whether Williams -- who tore his ACL in spring practice and had surgery on April 9 -- can return to full strength at some point this season remains to be seen. Head coach Al Golden has said he plans to cut his current four-man crop of potential starting quarterbacks to two following the Canes' second scrimmage, and right now Heaps looks like a safe bet to make it at least that far.

The former BYU and Kansas quarterback said and did all of the right things, too, per Porter, especially as it relates to potential awkwardness amid a five-man group vying for playing time:
“It’s a great question,” Heaps said. “It definitely could be. It’s definitely an interesting dynamic that is going on right now. But it’s gone extremely well and that’s a testament to the group of guys that are in that room, that quarterback group – all great guys, all guys that understand the situation and just are focused on getting better individually.”

Elsewhere in the ACC ...

ACC lunchtime links

August, 4, 2014
So who exactly will be starting for Miami when the season opens at Louisville on Sept. 1?

That remains a mystery.

Multiple organizations have reported that quarterback Kevin Olsen has been suspended for one game because of a failed drug test, but Miami coach Al Golden refused to comment on Olsen's status during a radio appearance on Monday in Miami. Golden told Joe Rose of WQAM he would "refrain from commenting on any of that as it relates to any suspension."

If Olsen is indeed out for the opener, the Hurricanes would be down to their third option at quarterback. Ryan Williams, the projected starter, is still rehabbing a torn ACL. Olsen was expected to take the quarterback reins with Williams out. Now, Miami might have to rely on transfer Jake Heaps, who has been on campus only for a handful of weeks and is still working to learn the playbook.

Golden repeated on his radio appearance that four quarterbacks remained in the mix to start -- Olsen, Heaps and freshmen Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier. That group will be narrowed to two following the first scrimmage. When asked specifically about Heaps, Golden said:

"He's in a different place in his life. He's about a 30-game starter in collgee, he's 23 years old, he's basically devoting his life to this. Basically for the last eight weeks he's been studying and since June 28, he's been here throwing and working out with the guys and practicing in our system. We're very pleased with where he is right now and as I said also we're very pleased at the devlepment that Kevin has shown over the summer. Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier come in and they're competing their tails off, so it's going to be an interesting battle here as we kick off tomorrow."

Interesting is putting it mildly. Olsen has not exactly been a model citizen since he arrived on campus as one of the top-rated prospects Miami signed in the class of 2013. He has gotten into trouble with the law; and he already served a suspension for the bowl game last season for a team rules violation. In retrospect, Duke Johnson's comments about Olsen's lack of leadership at the ACC Kickoff last month seem foreboding.

At this point, Miami has to be extremely grateful it landed Heaps. He has had some hiccups along the way, but he has a background quite similar to Williams -- both are former starters, both transferred to Miami looking for a fresh start, and both are older and married, giving them a level of maturity Olsen does not seem to have, at least not yet.

Now here's a look at other headlines across the ACC:
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Miami Hurricanes will enter fall camp with four potential starting quarterbacks and will have two by the end of its first scrimmage. But Ryan Williams won't be among them.

Coach Al Golden said that Williams will be out for the beginning of camp following spring knee surgery, while Kevin Olsen, Jake Heaps, Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier battle for the chance to be the Hurricanes' No. 1 signal caller.

Golden was hesitant to put a timetable on Williams' potential return -- the expected starter suffered a non-contact ACL injury to his right knee April 4 during Miami's second spring scrimmage.

"I don't know. I've been staying away from that," Golden, asked when Williams may be back, said during Day 2 of ACC media days. "I think it's really important for us to conduct like he's not going to be with us in the short-term. So we've done that, and it's important that as a team, we rally behind whoever the quarterback is and whoever comes out of this race early on.

"I'm not the doctor. All I can tell you is that he's having a great recovery, his rehab is going excellent and when the doctor's clear him, we'll move forward."

Quarterback uncertainty is one of several questions surrounding a Miami team that dropped four of its final six games of the 2013 season. Still, media members in attendance at the Grandover Resort & Conference Center voted the Hurricanes as the preseason Coastal Division favorite, although Duke and North Carolina both received more first-place division votes.

Entering his fourth year in charge of the Hurricanes, Golden did not read much into the predictions.

"With all respect to you guys, I don't really get into all that," Golden said. "I'm trying to teach the team the opposite. And we've got to teach this team to ignore the noise, just stay focused on the process and just turn this season into one-game missions, 12 one-game missions. Block everything else out, and I mean that with all respect.

"We're not really talking about Coastal championships and all that. We're talking about taking care of our business today, becoming the best player and unit we can be today, and that's going to move us forward." columnist Mark Schlabach is stopping by the ACC blog this week to answer some of your most pressing questions about the league as it enters the 2014 season. You can tweet your questions to Mark here.

Mark: The Hurricanes are making progress under coach Al Golden, who has a 22-15 record in three seasons and has shown improvement each campaign. Last season, the Hurricanes finished 9-4, even after losing star tailback Duke Johnson to a broken ankle in a 41-14 loss at Florida State in their eighth game.

I still contend it’s a minor miracle the Hurricanes were able to persuade Golden to stick around through the ridiculously long NCAA investigation and subsequent penalties. He’s a heck of a coach, and might have had his choice of some desirable jobs if he’d wanted to leave.

I’d feel much better about Miami winning 10 games in a season for the first time since 2003 if quarterback Ryan Williams hadn’t injured his knee during the spring. Williams, a senior transfer from Memphis, was UM’s only experienced quarterback coming back but underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL.

Without Williams, redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen will go into preseason camp as the favorite to start under center. Olsen has good pedigree -- his older brother Greg was a star tight end at Miami and in the NFL and another brother, Christian, played quarterback at Virginia. Olsen needs to improve his accuracy and has yet to play in a college game. Sophomore Gray Crow and incoming freshmen Malik Rosier and Brad Kaaya will push Olsen this fall.

The good news for UM: Johnson is back after recovering from his broken ankle. He’s a difference maker at tailback and on kick returns and can take a lot of pressure off the quarterback. He averaged 171.4 all-purpose yards before getting hurt last season, and is a threat to break loose any time he touches the ball.

More than anything, Miami has to do a better job on defense, after allowing 426.4 yards per game last season, which was 13th-best in the ACC. The Canes have a couple of nice players coming back on the defensive line, and their linebacker corps and secondary are solid.

If Miami is going to equal or better last season’s record, it has to find a way to win on the road. It opens the season at Louisville on Sept. 1; the Cardinals walloped the Canes 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl last season. Miami also plays games at Nebraska, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Virginia. UM is 8-8 in road games in Golden’s three seasons. The Canes play a few of their tougher ACC opponents -- Duke, UNC and FSU -- at home.
AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Miami coach Al Golden said quarterback Ryan Williams is doing "phenomenal" in his recovery from a torn ACL and anticipates getting him back at some point during the season.

[+] EnlargeRyan Williams
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyRyan Williams is ahead of schedule in his recovery from an ACL tear suffered on April 4.
Asked about the possibility of applying for a medical hardship waiver for Williams, Golden said, "That doesn’t appear to be the route right now based on how well he is recovering. We know he’ll be back. It’s just a question of how early because his recovery right now is phenomenal."

Williams, the projected starter, tore his ACL during a scrimmage last month. Golden has remained optimistic that Williams would be able to play this season, but will have a better understanding of when that might happen in July. If Williams is healthy enough to re-enter the fold, Golden will have to decide whether his injured starting quarterback automatically gets his job back.

"There’s a lot more to it than that," Golden said. "When is he cleared for participation and when is he cleared for game action? We need to distinguish that."

With Williams out of the mix for now, redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen is the favorite to win the starting quarterback job. He had an up-and-down spring, punctuated by a flat performance in the spring game, when he went 7-for-21 for 65 yards with an interception.

"He made a lot of progress. I know everybody just looks at the spring game. But, for me, the spring game ... my philosophy in the spring game is a lot different than what we were doing in the scrimmage before, where we were using everything and calling all the things we called all spring," Golden said. "So I think Kevin handled that transition well. He’s going to have to continue to grow and we have two young guys coming in this Sunday [Brad Kaaya, Malik Rosier] that are going to want to compete and battle and Ryan at the same time, he’s doing well with his recovery."