Coral Gables, FL — As I sit in the media workroom at the Hecht Athletic Center at the University of Miami, I have a feeling I’ve had several times before when there was a quarterback battle: “Just name one”.
There’s literally nothing that stops a coach from naming a starter and changing his mind later. But it’s always this big mystery that lasts for weeks and keeps media speculation going and message boards buzzing. People in the know all come out claiming they know which way the tide will turn. It doesn’t bother me, I just refuse to play the game.
In nearly every scenario, I’ve always known which way it would go. Meaning, the way it should go.
This year, it’s got to be Malik Rosier. The Redshirt Junior is the only quarterback on the current Hurricanes roster with any experience playing in a college football game. Rosier’s two passes in 2016 for a total of 32 yards and 65 yards total rushing for a touchdown are hardly exciting stats for a Top 25 team.
But Rosier has played, mostly in 2015. That does count for something. Doesn’t it?
Thinking back on my first year on the Hurricanes beat, Jacory Harris was the clear cut starter for the Canes and had his best year under first-year head coach Al Golden and more specifically offensive coordinator Jed Fisch.
The next year when Harris graduated, Stephen Morris took over after “beating out” Ryan Williams and played for the next two seasons. Williams, a South Florida native, was a Memphis transfer brought in to prevent having literally no scholarship QBs after Morris graduated. Scholarship limits forced Miami during the period of 2011 – 2014 to do some unorthodox things and they probably reached on a few recruits.
Scratch that, they reached on a lot of them.
But the sanctions were eventually lifted and in came the California kid, 4-star freshman Brad Kaaya. During Kaaya’s freshman year, Ryan Williams the assumed starter was injured during the off season. Kaaya would have to play as a freshman, all he did was go on to start for three straight years and was drafted in the sixth round by Detroit in April.
Now Kaaya’s backup, Rosier, from the same recruiting class in 2014 is fighting for the starting job. He played a fair amount in 2015 due to injuries to Kaaya and even made his only start in a win at Duke. A game that will go down in Hurricane and NCAA Football history.
Rosier is the only QB on the roster with a win. He should be the guy in theory, but there’s a competition in Coral Gables at QB.
So what’s the problem?
Even with that win over Duke, Rosier had shaky moments and just hasn’t played enough. He hasn’t done enough and he’s had the most time. This is his third spring, second in this offense. Third season playing (he redshirted in 2014) and there really shouldn’t be a battle.
I would argue at points last season, fans wished Roiser was good enough to at least sub in for Kaaya for a series to motivate him for erratic play (immobility in the pocket). This job should be his and a very closed case, but it isn’t and that’s the biggest problem.
That’s all on Malik.
Enter redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs and freshman N’Kosi Perry.
Shirreffs is a pocket passer thrown into a read option offense and up tempo scheme. He was also a last minute add to the 2015 class (signed the day after signing day) and has yet to play any meaningful football.
Perry is the fan favorite. He’s big, athletic and has a big arm and he was a 4-star recruit like Kaaya. He also reminds fans of Lamar Jackson of Louisville, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. A guy Louisville threw out as a starter in the first game of his career and he nearly took down Auburn in what was practically an SEC campus stadium, the Georgia Dome.
Shirrefs had offers from Georgetown, Ole Dominion and Eastern Michigan. Rosier’s only other BCS offers were from Western Kentucky and Northern Illinois.
Kaaya bailed Miami out of years of poor QB recruiting. But he left early. Someone else has to bridge the gap to Perry. I think it should be Rosier.
With a defense everyone expects to be top notch, why risk spooking your freshman quarterback, the future of the position in your program? Not unless he’s head-over-heels better than the senior and the redshirt sophomore. And right now, Perry’s not.
Hope springs eternal during this time of year. Perry is what fans want, electricity and excitement and something “new.”
After all, Canes fans know Rosier and from what they know, there’s really not a crowd asking for more.
But this isn’t high school and some popularity contest. This is high stakes college football and if you’re Mark Richt and have what many are calling the best defense in decades at Miami. You play it safe at QB. Rosier has to be the guy.