The start of the football season is close. How close?
Coaches and two players from each ACC school will travel to Charlotte, N.C., this week for the league’s annual kickoff event, held Wednesday and Thursday. The Hurricanes will speak to the media on Wednesday afternoon, with wide receiver Ahmmon Richards, safety Jaquan Johnson and coach Mark Richt representing the program at ACC media days.
Here are five Hurricanes storylines that will be part of their day in Charlotte …
Who is the starting quarterback?: It sure looks like redshirt senior Malik Rosier will start at quarterback to begin the season against LSU. But Richt insisted in the spring the quarterback race is still open. Though, that could just be to push Rosier to be the best player he can be. Richt has said in the past that the Alabama native is sharper when someone is trying to take his job. And there’s certainly competition this year, with quarterbacks N’Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon unable to redshirt after sitting out last season, and true freshman Jarren Williams really impressing in the spring. Richt will surely be asked about Miami’s quarterback situation at ACC media days, with the start of camp just a few weeks away.
Ahmmon’s health: One thing the Hurricanes don’t lack on offense is skill-position talent, and Richards has already proven he has the potential to be the best of the bunch. Injuries derailed his sophomore season, as Richards missed five games with various issues last year — including hamstring, ankle and knee injuries. But he still managed to finish as Miami’s third-leading receiver with 24 catches for 439 yards and three touchdowns. Now, Richards is hoping those injuries are behind him. The former Wellington High standout revealed to reporters in June that he’s been cleared to resume full workouts with the team after seeing limited action in the spring as he rehabbed a knee injury (injured meniscus in left knee in November). The hope is that Richards will now be able to dominate defenses like he did in 2016, when he earned Freshman All-American honors with 49 catches for 934 yards and three touchdowns.
All of the hype: After making their first ever ACC Championship Game appearance last season, the Hurricanes believe they’re ready to take the next step. But the difference this year is the outside also believes they have the potential to make that leap. The hype surrounding the football program is real, with the Hurricanes expected to make the conference championship once again as the favorites to win the ACC Coastal Division. With playing in the ACC championship now the expectation, winning it and making the College Football Playoff is the next step for the Hurricanes. Are they ready to make the jump?
So many talented freshmen: The Hurricanes’ 2018 recruiting class is full of talent and potential, but who can make an immediate impact this upcoming season? Some candidates are five-star running back Lorenzo Lingard, four-star tight end Brevin Jordan, four-star defensive tackle Nesta Silvera and four-star wide receiver Mark Pope. Lingard could be too talented to keep off the field, even with Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas ahead of him on the running back depth chart. Jordan has a chance to end up as the starting tight end this season, with returning tight ends Michael Irvin II and Brian Polendey still unproven. Silvera could see meaningful snaps after defensive tackles Kendrick Norton and RJ McIntosh turned pro a year early. And Pope is just an elite talent who could make the coaches play him despite Miami’s stacked group of wide receivers.
LSU: Ready, set, go. There will be no warm-up games for the Hurricanes this season. Miami opens things up with an SEC opponent, facing LSU in the season opener in Arlington, Texas on Sept. 2. That’s quite the change from the previous three seasons, when the Hurricanes opened the year with Bethune-Cookman in 2017 and 2015, and Florida A&M in 2016. Get ready for a lot of LSU talk over the next six weeks.