NCAA Football News

Miami Football: Week 1 Fall Practice Stock Report

The Miami Hurricanes returned to the practice field for the first week of fall camp, signifying the official return of football in South Florida.

It's back, and we couldn't be happier. The 'Canes donned helmets only Tuesday and Wednesday, and after two additional days of shells, Miami completely gears up on Saturday.

The opening week of practice was news-heavy, largely due to pad-less practices and because any depth chart is typically a motivational tool.

Ultimately, 7-on-7 All-Americans may crumble when contact arrives, so it's important to not proclaim the second coming of a Hurricanes' legend after a few reps.

 

What's Up at Quarterback?

Golden had previously said the quarterback battle would be a two-man race after the first scrimmage. However, per Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post, that time will now be following the second scrimmage.

As part of the competition, the potential starters shared reps with the first-team offense throughout the week. Jake Heaps took his turn Tuesday, Brad Kaaya on Wednesday and Kevin Olsen during Thursday's session.

Though Olsen is unavailable for the opener, the suspension itself does not mean the redshirt freshman is eliminated from contention. Remember, in 2011, Stephen Morris started in place of a suspended Jacory Harris, who then reclaimed the No. 1 role upon his return.

Olsen's on-field play, on the other hand...

Lastly, Ryan Williams' health was a major talking point. According to Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Golden said: "Is he going to be a factor in this race in the next five weeks? I don't know. I honestly don't know and it's not worth speculating on."

Most importantly, be careful not to fall in love with early practice throws because it's much easier for a quarterback to throw dimes when there is no real pressure. The real front-runners will start separating themselves during a fully-padded week No. 2.

 

Key Freshmen Battling for Positions

Kc McDermott was expected to contribute as part of the offensive line's rotation, but the early enrollee already leapfrogged right tackle Taylor Gadbois.

In this case, whether the move was a reflection of McDermott's summer work or intended to motivate Gadbois doesn't matter; it's encouraging to see the highly touted true freshman back up his billing right away.

Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald notes Darrion Owens is "coming on strong," making a solid case to be the backup strong-side linebacker. Owens earned a black jersey and, per Chirinos, has yet to give it up through day three.

Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio had some "coach speak" about Chad Thomas, but the writing on the wall signifies immediate playing time for the defensive end. According to Porter: "We have to give everybody the same opportunity. But I'm thrilled to have Chad Thomas on the team. Let's leave it at that. I can't wait to get to work with him today."

 

News and Notes

For the first time in Golden's tenure at Miami, the coveted orange and black jerseys barely changed hands during the opening days of camp.

Offense: Ereck Flowers, Jon Feliciano, Shane McDermott, Danny Isidora, Kc McDermott, Clive Walford, Beau Sandland, Phillip Dorsett, Duke Johnson and Ronald Regula, Herb Waters (for two days) and Rashawn Scott (Thursday)

Defense: Anthony Chickillo, Ufomba Kamalu, Earl Moore, Trent Harris, Denzel Perryman, Raphael Kirby, Owens, Tracy Howard, Dallas Crawford and Antonio Crawford

Note: List courtesy of Chirinos.

According to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports (subscription required), Joe Yearby missed Wednesday's practice due to dehydration but returned to the Greentree on Thursday.

Long-awaited offensive weapon Trayone Gray practiced, and Darrell Langham is expected on Friday. The two freshmen were the lone holdouts while they waited to be given the go-ahead by clearinghouse.

Kamalu continues to press returning starters Chickillo and Olsen Pierre for playing time, and Porter writes the junior will also move inside on third-down situations.

In an effort to build depth at linebacker, Walter Tucker, who was initially brought in at the position, practiced with the unit. Per David Furones of The Miami Herald, Tucker will remain the Hurricanes' starting fullback ahead of Regula.

Along with Tyriq McCord playing linebacker in certain packages, senior Nantambu Akil-Fentress moved down from safety to the weak-side "Will" spot. Golden knows the position is an issue, and Miami is taking proper steps to address the problem right away in camp.

Overall, the opening days were a relatively quiet start to fall practice, which is basically a good thing. But next week, football will return to fast-paced, high-level excitement at "The U."

 

Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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Why the Power-5 Conference Autonomy Vote Is Good for Nebraska

On Thursday, the NCAA announced the proposal that would give more autonomy to the five largest conferences with regards to rule-making, as discussed by the Associated Press (h/t Boston Herald).

Those power-five conferences—the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12—will now have more ability to make rules for themselves. This decision could well be the bell-weather for a seismic change in college football, one that should benefit a program like Nebraska.

So what exactly happened?

The NCAA decided that the 65 schools in the power-five conferences would now be able to make rules for themselves in a number of different areas, including things like providing additional stipends to student-athletes, providing insurance coverage for athletes during and after their participation in competition, rules limiting staff sizes and sharing of television and image-rights revenues with student-athletes.

Fundamentally, the change reflects in the NCAA rulebook the reality that has existed for some time now—that the power-five conference teams are simply engaging in a different enterprise than non-power-five conference football programs.

The staggering amounts of money that the power-five conferences generate with their television revenues allows them to do things that non-power-five conferences simply cannot afford.

Under current NCAA rules, a school like Nebraska (or Alabama, USC or any other major national powerhouse) had to be governed by the same set of rules as schools like New Mexico State and South Alabama, programs with dramatically fewer economic resources available.

The argument against the autonomy proposal was simple and straightforward—all these teams are (ostensibly) competing in the same division, and they should play by the same rules. Allowing the power-five conferences to have their own rules will give those schools a baked-in competitive advantage, even more than they already have.

And that argument is correct. Under the new autonomy rules, the power-five conference programs will have a competitive advantage over the non-power-five schools. The rich will, indeed, get richer.

That’s why the rule change is good for Nebraska. Not only is Nebraska a member of arguably the most powerful financial conference, the B1G, Nebraska itself as a program is one of the 20 most financially powerful programs in the country. If the rich are to get richer under this program, then Nebraska will clearly benefit.

More importantly, though, the rule is something that is a practical necessity. The NCAA—indeed, the entire model of amateurism and student-athletes—is under assault from a number of lawsuits dealing with everything from image likeness to anti-trust violations.

Many in the power-five conferences want to take steps, such as a “full cost of attendance” scholarship or an expansion of insurance benefits past graduation for student-athletes. But those efforts were blocked by the non-power-five conference programs because (rightfully so) those programs could not afford to offer those benefits.

With this newfound autonomy, the power-five programs will be better able to proactively address the issues that are bedeviling the NCAA. Certainly, much of the motivation for those programs will be self-preservation of the current goose laying the golden eggs of fat television contracts.

But a byproduct of that self-preservation may very well be some concrete steps to improve the lives of the student-athletes that make the Saturday spectacles we all love so dearly possible.

(And, selfishly, perhaps even come up with a mechanism to compensate student-athletes for the use of their images and likenesses, making a resurrection of the EA Sports NCAA Football video game series a possibility.)

Yes, these rules aren't fair to the non-power-five programs. But given the results of a new poll by ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy (h/t Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports) that a plurality of coaches in power-five conferences are in favor of excluding non-power-five programs from their schedules, we may be heading toward a de facto breakaway of the power-five conferences from the rest of the NCAA in football.

That breakaway, whether it be de facto by exclusive scheduling or de jure by the creation of a “Division Four” as discussed by SEC commissioner Mike Slive, has its own benefits and costs to be debated. But there is little doubt that such a breakaway will be for the benefit of the power-five programs and at the expense of the non-power-five.

As harsh as it sounds, then, the fact that the rule change is good for the rich means that the rule change is good for Nebraska.

 

If you’d like to contact Patrick, send an email to patrickrunge@gmail.com.

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Vernon Hargreaves Injury: Updates on Gators CB's Knee and Return

After a tremendously disappointing 4-8 campaign in 2013, the Florida Gators football team was hoping for a positive offseason and some momentum heading into the 2014 season. 

Instead, Will Muschamp’s bunch received some unfortunate news regarding cornerback Vernon Hargreaves Thursday. Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun provided a number of updates on the situation:

Hargreaves is one of the most talented players on the entire Florida roster and was seen as a key to the resurgence of the defense. In fact, ESPN.com ranked him as the best true sophomore in the country and the 13th-best overall player in the country in its preseason rankings.

Hargreaves earned first-team All-SEC honors last year thanks to his three interceptions, 38 tackles and 11 total passes defended. He was second in the conference in passes defended per game at 1.17 and looked completely comfortable against elite competition as a freshman.

This injury is certainly a major blow for the Gators moving forward if it is serious. Check back for updates as they develop.

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