After the first scrimmage of camp, Al Golden cut down his starting quarterback options to two: Graduate senior Jake Heaps, and true freshman Brad Kaaya. If you have followed Canes Camp, or if you own a Twitter, you have been aware of all the hype Kaaya has received since arriving in Miami. On Friday during Al Golden’s post-practice interview, he was asked about Kaaya:
Golden said Kaaya came in at 228 pounds. Is now (6-4 and) 206. “He really leaned out.”
— Matt Porter (@mattyports) August 15, 2014
So we know Kaaya came to work,
Golden explained how much Kaaya has sacrificed: beaches, sightseeing, social life in Miami … he’s about ball. — Matt Porter (@mattyports) August 15, 2014
Throughout fall camp, Brad Kaaya has been nothing short of impressive to both coaches and his teammates. Offensive lineman Ereck Flowers (who is projected to protect the quarterbacks blindside,) said in an interview “I’ve got no doubt, come September 1st, if he is the starting quarterback then I know we’re good,” when asked about what he thinks of Kaaya. Those are strong words from a teammate, especially one who’s going to prevent you from getting hit. Coach James Coley has continuously praised Kaaya for his maturity during camp and that isn’t a surprise.
Kaaya was an under-the-radar prospect up until Coley pulled the trigger and offered him his first scholarship offer. Other schools like USC and UCLA came knocking afterwards, but the belief Coley showed in Kaaya was ultimately what lured him to Miami. Months later, Kaaya was a prized four-star recruit. Being that Kaaya was the first quarterback Coley brought in to Miami since coming on board from Florida State, it’s fair to say that Kaaya is Coach Coley’s “guy”.
Among many reports out of camp, a lot of them have said that Kaaya has shown outstanding pocket presence for being so young.
James Coley on Brad Kaaya: “I think he’s 30.” Said he just doesn’t make the freshman mistakes.
— Matt Porter (@mattyports) August 9, 2014
Kaaya is the sexy pick for many Miami fans, and I couldn’t blame them because it seems like the kid has all the tools to become very successful. However, will Al Golden go with the “New Blood” for the opener against Louisville or will he go with “Experience”?
Jake Heaps, who has struggled to find stability in his college career, found a new home in Miami for his senior season.Like Kaaya, Heaps was highly recruited out of high school with offers from Tennessee and Notre Dame, and was ranked #1 at his position. He struggled at BYU and then transferred to Kansas. Last year with the Jayhawks, Heaps threw for 1414 yards while completing 49% of his passes. Granted, the talent at Kansas is not overwhelming and below average, things at Miami could be different. He has plenty of play makers on offense now and he’s made it clear that he didn’t come to the University of Miami to be a backup. Heaps has thoroughly impressed Coley and Golden with his maturity and command of the offense.
From the first week of camp:
More Golden on Heaps today: “Pleasure to work with right now.” In other words–he likes him.
— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) August 7, 2014
The idea is that Jake Heaps COULD be a Russell Wilson type of figure for the Canes. Lets be honest, Miami has been lacking a consistent leader at the quarterback position the past couple years. At the beginning of spring ball, the starting job was Ryan Williams vs. Kevin Olsen. Obviously things have changed. Williams got injured, and Olsen has fallen off the radar due to his recent suspension and lack of improvement. A lot of things depend on Ryan Williams’ return during the season from his ACL injury. Many have speculated that Williams might be back for the Nebraska game.
However, let’s exclude Ryan Williams at the moment. The big question is: who starts September 1st against Louisville on the road?
Reports seem to indicate that Kaaya and Heaps are at a deadlock for the starting job. One fan might want Kaaya to start because of the idea of a better future, and the other fan wants experience behind the center leading the way. There is no doubt that Brad Kaaya is the Future of “The U.” I believe that Kaaya carries the “it” factor, and he would be fully capable of leading this team this year. However, I would expect a few loses here and there because of freshman mistakes. We could go the other route with Heaps. Heaps adds experience and maturity. Al Golden has shown in years past that he is more likely to start experienced players over ones with less experience. Whoever gives us the best chance to win gets my vote.
Golden has some options here:
- Start Heaps against Louisville
- Start Kaaya against Louisville
- Be prepared to play both of them in the Louisville game.
- Start Heaps and hand the keys to Ryan Williams when he returns and give Kaaya the red shirt.
Let’s not forget that very successful QB’s in the past couple years have red shirted, names like Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston. Kaaya might never be those guys, but it’s just to show that redshirting isn’t always a bad thing.
There is no doubt Al Golden has big decision to make in the next week or two. The smart move I believe is to start Heaps against Louisville because it will be a hostile environment, especially for a true freshman. Golden and the Canes need to start the season right, and I believe Heaps adds confidence to the staff and the players. Duke Johnson said Heaps “can read coverage’s better” than Kaaya. Kaaya could benefit from redshirting but there is nothing like playing experience. Although, if Heaps struggles at all, Al Golden should not be afraid to play Brad Kaaya in the opener.
Let the best man win.