Friday Stock Report: 4/15

Friday Stock Report: 4/15

The team concluded spring practices last Saturday with the spring game at Lockhart Stadium. A number of players stepped up in the spring and received a substantial amount of reps due to the amount of injuries. Competition for playing time brings out the best from individuals and eliminates complacency.

SPRING GAME
Enough of the Offense vs. Defense spring game. It is time to have Orange vs. White. Split the team up into two equal squads, call one of them ‘Orange' and the other ‘White'. It would be more appealing for the fans in attendance and more fun to watch on TV. And honestly, it would be more fun for the players. Under the current system the team sets up a point system for the offense to receive a point for a first down and the defense gets a point for a three-and-out. There are more ways to receive points, but I do not have the "cheat sheet" in front of me. The fans who came in late might see the score 12-5 and wonder what the heck is going on in the "game". They wouldn't have a hard time figuring it out if it was Orange vs. White.

It would have been fun seeing the two quarterbacks who are competing for the starting position to take control of a team and battle it out on the field. Who knows, maybe more than 8,500 fans would show up to see an Orange vs. White game. It's worth a shot.

Moving right along, here are my top five players this spring…

5. DT KAREEM BROWN & DT TERAZ McCRAY
Too close to call at the number five slot so let's settle on a tie. Both Brown and McCray showed improvement this spring. Brown is a guy that entered into the first unit when Orien Harris shut it down for the spring to repair a shoulder. Throughout his career Brown has shown flashes of dominance, but has yet to develop the consistency needed in order to be a top defensive tackle. This spring he showed consistency, toughness, speed, and strength at the tackle position. McCray has impressed people in his first two years as a Hurricane and he doesn't seem to be slowing down the chatter. This spring McCray was nearly unblockable. The offensive line had a hard time blocking him during run and pass situations. With the improvement of Brown and McCray, it could force Baraka Atkins back to defensive end—his natural position.

4. LB TAVARES GOODEN
Gooden finished third on the team in tackles a year ago as a first-year starter. He battled a shoulder injury at the end of the season last year, but showed no ill effects in the spring. This spring he was bringing it. He held the starting strongside linebacker position throughout the spring and was one of two linebackers on the top unit during nickel situations. Gooden attacked at the line of scrimmage against the run constantly shedding through blocks to get to the ball. He is ready for a breakout season in 2005 and he's off to a good start.

3. QB KYLE WRIGHT
He was very productive in the spring game going 10-for-13 for 159 yards and two touchdowns. The only negative of his performance would be getting sacked five times—something that happened often in his limited playing time during the '04 season. Throughout the spring Wright showed good patience, a strong arm with stellar accuracy, and the ability to throw the ball downfield. Bottom line is that Wright makes plays. He gets the ball to guys that can score in various areas of the field. Head coach Larry Coker has not publicly named the starting quarterback, but it will be Wright barring a major collapse in fall practices.

2. RB DERRON THOMAS
Thomas was the first player on campus from the 2004 signing class, but it did not help him during the season. He redshirted while fellow freshman running backs Andrew Johnson and Charlie Jones enjoyed carries on a limited basis throughout the season. Thomas just watched from the sideline. Then he got hurt. However, when Johnson went down with an ACL injury and projected '05 starting tailback Tyrone Moss took the spring off to deal with an injury, it opened the door for Thomas. Not only did he take advantage of the opportunity, but he passed Jones on the depth chart and became the biggest surprise on the team. Throughout spring practices Thomas constantly found the right holes and took off for big gains. It was not uncommon for Thomas to have three 50+ yards in a week of practice. There's no denying his speed, but what has been impressive has been his ability to run inside the tackles. He had the spring he wanted and needed. Now it is Jones & Johnson who are behind Thomas. It will be interesting to see how their careers progress.

1. WR RYAN MOORE
Don't doubt his ability. Moore is a top-notch receiver and at 6-foot-3 with extreme athleticism he is ready for a huge year in '05. He led the team in receiving yards as a freshman with 627; however he had a disappointing 2004 season with only 85 yards as he battled through injuries. Moore was the best player on the field throughout spring practices making all the catches he needed to make. He caught the tough passes along the sideline in traffic as well as the deep ball. He's not known for his speed, but did get behind the secondary a few times. This is his year to do what he came to do.

HONORABLE MENTION
Here are a list of guys that didn't quite make the top five list, but did have a good spring: OL Rashad Butler, WR Sinorice Moss, SS Greg Threat, FS Anthony Reddick, LB Leon Williams, LB Jon Beason, FB James Bryant, QB Kirby Freeman, and OL Tyrone Byrd.

MIAMI BASEBALL (27-9, 11-4 ACC)
College baseball does not get any better than this. Today at 4 pm the #9 Hurricanes send the NCAA leader in ERA, Cesar Carrillo (8-0, 0.86 ERA), to the mound to face #7 North Carolina who will respond with their ace in LHP Andrew Miller (7-0, 1.10 ERA). Both pitchers are in their second year with Carrillo posting a 20-0 during his career and a 2.04 ERA. Miller has also been impressive with a 13-3 career record and a 2.21 ERA. It should be a fantastic game that can be seen on ESPN U. Last year as a freshman against Miami, Miller was fantastic: 8 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 11K. Jon Jay and Roger Tomas are the only two active hitters who faced North Carolina last year. In the three-game series in which the Tar Heels won 2-1, Jay went 1-for-11 and Tomas went 2-for-6. The second game of the weekend series is on Saturday at 7 pm followed by a 1 pm game on Sunday.

Christopher Stock is a Senior Writer & Assistant Editor for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@canestime.com

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