Expect plenty of old-school Baby Canes to vie for serious playing time as fall football camp opens Friday at the University of Miami — though coach Al Golden will not be babying anyone.
Expect a bigger, stronger, more conditioned football team to take Greentree Field.
And expect a fierce competition between junior Stephen Morris and redshirt sophomore Ryan Williams for the starting quarterback job.
“We’re tired of the average seasons, the 6-6, the 7-6,” Morris said Thursday, despite only having four returning starters on offense. “That’s done over here. We’re not really about that anymore
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“The mediocrity is done.”
Added Morris: “Ryan is a great guy, great competitor, great friend. But at the end of the day, we’re going for the same job and that job is to help this team win — and the best man is going to get it.”
Golden, who said the quarterback competition was “neck and neck,” seemed buoyed by the fact that everyone he expected to enter fall camp, including freshman running back Danny Dillard, had cleared academically and would be at practice. He said his players “paid a price” during the offseason.
“We’re in good condition and, obviously, the infusion of youngsters into the program has really created an energy and competition that we needed,” the coach said.
The pre-fall camp depth chart distributed Thursday reflects 19 freshmen and sophomores on the two-deep for the offense and defense — and another six on the two deep for special teams.
One of those sophomores, who practiced with the scout team in 2011 after transferring from Memphis, is a 20-year-old married man. Quarterback Williams, who married Deanna Barclay on May 12, played a prominent role in spring practice while Morris sat out recuperating from back surgery.
Morris, 6-2 and 214 pounds, has five starts in his career, completing 108 of 190 passes for 1,523 yards and seven touchdowns, with 11 interceptions — nine of those during his freshman season.
Williams, 6-6 and 225 pounds, won a state championship for Miramar High in 2009. He started 10 games as a freshman at Memphis, completing 165 of 290 passes for 2,075 yards and 13 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions.
“Last year was hard because I was just coming out as a transfer so I didn’t really have a place to be vocal and talk to people and be a leader that way,” said Williams, who noted he has become close with his teammates and taken more of a leadership role. “I thought I did a pretty good job running the offense [in spring].”
Williams said offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch told him he and Stephen “will split the reps evenly until they announce who the starters are in a couple weeks. Until then it’s all about taking advantage of your reps.”
Golden reiterated that his goal is to name the starter either Aug. 13 or 19, both days following scrimmages. He said he is not “a fan” of the two-quarterback system.
Golden also wouldn’t commit to redshirting freshmen quarterbacks Gray Crow and Preston Dewey, both of whom arrived in time for spring practice. But he conceded that he “would love to have symmetry at the quarterback position,” meaning a seasoned quarterback for each class. The coach asked media members to recognize his only married Hurricane. They responded with a smattering of polite applause.
“How about that?” Golden said incredulously to Williams. “You got a golf clap after all that.”
Williams said the best thing about being married was “going home and having someone to be able to cook for you and not having to eat McDonald’s, or whatever, every night.”
He also said his wife, a former soccer player and current FIU student, is patient with his football life.
“She knows the time commitment and stuff,” he said, “so she’s very understanding with the time we put in.”