With a new quarterback taking over this season, the Hurricanes don’t want to worry about their offensive line.
Despite having to replace NFL-bound linemen such as guard Brandon Linder (third round, Jacksonville), tackle Seantrel Henderson (seventh, Buffalo) and center/guard Jared Wheeler (free agent, Carolina), Miami thinks its front five is going to be one of its strongest positions this season.
No matter who starts behind center for the Hurricanes when the season starts on Labor Day in Louisville, Kentucky, Miami’s line says it is ready to protect him.
“I think we’re going to be good,” said senior guard Jon Feliciano, who has started 33 games in his three seasons with the Hurricanes.
Never miss a local story.
“We have faith in whomever plays but we have to take care of him. You never want your quarterback to get hit.”
Feliciano is one of three starters back from last year’s group so there will be a few new faces on the right side.
True freshman Kc McDermott was expected to challenge for a starting spot after being so highly regarded coming out of high school and playing well during the spring.
Although sophomore Taylor Gadbois — who appeared in four games last year — was thought to have the upper hand, when fall practice opened Tuesday afternoon, it was McDermott lined up at right tackle with the first team.
McDermott, the younger brother of UM starting center Shane, spent the spring with the Hurricanes after enrolling in school early.
The extra time on campus and going through spring drills benefited Shane McDermott a few years back, he said, and it helped his little brother as well.
“You get to know the plays and guys who have done it — like myself and Stephen Morris — really get a head start,” said Shane McDermott, a senior.
“Guys like Linder and Feliciano came in during the summer, and it was a different deal for them. They didn’t know the playbook as well. [Kc] knows the schemes, has been getting stronger. He looks really good, worked his tail off. I’m very excited to see what he brings when we put the pads on.”
Shane McDermott didn’t get to play alongside his brother during the spring because of a foot injury.
McDermott said he was cleared for all physical activity in May and was excited to get back on the field when practice opened. McDermott looks trimmer than he did when spotted around campus while injured, and he definitely has his brother’s ear during practice.
During a few drills Wednesday, Shane could be seen giving Kc a number of pointers off to the side.
“It’s great to be back at football, especially after being out for six months,” Shane McDermott said.
“It was tough being out because I’m a very competitive guy. It was nice seeing everyone develop, especially my younger brother. Not being able to play with him was frustrating. But it was something I needed to do, something I had to get through.’’
With Kc McDermott looking like he belongs with the first team, Miami feels good about its depth at right tackle with Gadbois working with the second team behind the younger McDermott.
Coach Al Golden has talked about Miami being 10-deep along the line but said it isn’t there yet.
As the season goes along, depth is going to be important.
Last year, Danny Isidora missed the first 10 games with a foot injury before making his debut in the home finale against Virginia.
Isidora, a third-year sophomore, is lined up as the starting right guard in camp.
Junior Ereck Flowers — listed at 6-6 and 322 pounds — gives Miami another big veteran on the line. The former Miami Norland standout started all 13 games last year at left tackle and played in 12 games as a true freshman (starting the first four) at right tackle.
“I like seven, maybe eight [right now],” Golden said of his offensive line depth.
“We need to find nine and 10 regardless. We don’t have the depth I’m comfortable with right now, but we have some young guys who are going to have to come on.
“… I’m confident we’ll find those 10, but we just have to keep going. But I really like our starting five at this point.”