After a disappointing 7-6 season in 2006, the Hurricanes will attempt to rebound and build toward its first ACC title. Although Head Coach Randy Shannon announced his starters on Tuesday, many position battles will continue into the season.
The biggest position battle throughout preseason camp was at quarterback.
Junior Kirby Freeman was named the starter on Tuesday, beating out experienced senior
Freeman was 2-2 as a starter last season and was credited with sparking the struggling offense in the final two games.
Freeman has more pocket awareness and is dangerous on his feet, which the Hurricanes have not had with Wright.
Freeman was very effective throwing the deep pass in preseason camp and needs to carry that over into the season. He must work on becoming an improved pocket passer and make better decisions, as he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in his career.
Wright was 14-7 as a starter over two seasons and had a disappointing junior season, throwing eight touchdowns to seven interceptions.
Wright never defeated conference foes Florida State and Georgia Tech and failed to have a defining drive any the fourth quarter during his time as starter.
Wright must not let the decision hurt his psyche and should be prepared to relieve Freeman.
This unit was arguably the weakest link in last season’s inept offense and will have to employ more strength up front or those same woes will continue.
Junior Chris Rutledge will attempt to overtake Reggie Youngblood at the tackle spot while freshman Orlando Franklin will continue to battle senior Andrew Bain for the starting spot at guard. Additionally, sophomore A.J. Trump will push for playing time at center with senior John Rochford.
In the backfield, Miami will have a talented group of running backs on display.
After becoming the starting tailback midway through last season, sophomore Javarris James should have competition with freshman Graig Cooper, who had an impressive preseason camp. James may split carries with Cooper as the season progresses.
Junior Derron Thomas has a firm hold on third-string after an injury to senior Charlie Jones.
Miami’s receiving corps must perform well in order for the offense to turn the corner.
Senior wideout Lance Leggett and Darnell Jenkins need to play up to their potential, while sophomore Sam Shields must become more consistent from game-to-game.
Sophomore Ryan Hill should continue to improve after he transitioned to wide receiver a year ago.
For the first time this decade, the tight end position is up for grabs. Junior DajLeon Farr is the best blocker and will be utilized often at half back. Junior Chris Zellner and sophomore Richard Gordon must work on their technique in order to become reliable targets.
Defensive ends Calais Campbell and Eric Moncur are lockdown starters while sophomore Courtney Harris will also be in the mix.
Senior Teraz McCray, a reliable defensive tackle, will be alongside a group of unproven but talented players, consisting of Dwayne Hendricks, Antonio Dixon or Josh Holmes.
After an injury to senior Glenn Cook, experienced senior Tavares Gooden will be counted on to have a productive season.
Junior linebackers Spencer Adkins and Eric Houston have done little in their careers, but will attempt to prove that they deserve playing time.
The Hurricanes have questions coming into the season at the cornerback position.
Junior Randy Phillips should play well enough to secure a spot, while sixth-year senior Glenn Sharpe has had trouble staying healthy.
Freshman DeMarcus Van Dyke and junior Carlos Armour both had an impressive preseason camp and will be frontrunners to win the spot for good. Van Dyke, among a handful of other freshmen, may see significant playing time, according to Shannon.
On special teams, walk-on senior Francesco Zampogna must get off to a good start at place kicker or will be replaced. Redshirt freshman Matt Bosher will handle the punting duties while junior Daren Daly will kickoff.
The Hurricanes have yet to replace Devin Hester in the return game, but expect Cooper to step in and be productive because of his breakaway speed.
Alex Kushel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.