College Miami Hurricanes

UM Spring Notebook: “Pissed Off” Canes Anxious To Get Back To Work

Many things can leave a sour or bitter taste in your mouth.

Biting into a lemon.

Drinking spoiled milk.

Losing your final three games of the season after winning the previous 10 and being ranked No. 2 in the country.

The last time Miami’s football team was on the field it was being handed a 34-24 loss – on its home field no less – at the hands of Wisconsin in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

And while they weren’t suiting up for a game, many of the Canes players relished the opportunity to get back to work as the team opened its spring practice Tuesday morning on the Greentree Practice Fields.

Tuesday’s session was the first of 15 practices that UM will go through over the next month – 14 regular, closed practices and a spring game on April 14th at Hard Rock Stadium.

Pissed Off For Greatness

Of the players that spoke to the media Tuesday, it was redshirt senior quarterback Malik Rosier who plainly and candidly said how he felt about the team’s return to the practice field.

Perhaps Rosier has been listening to Ray Lewis motivational speeches:

Or maybe Rosier really just wants to prove his many doubters – within the Hurricanes’ fan base – that he is still the best option to lead the team into the 2018 season.

Rosier threw for 3,120 yards and 26 touchdowns this past season and broke Miami’s single-season touchdown record – previously held by Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde with 30 scores in 1986 – by rushing for another five TD’s.

Still, Rosier’s detractors continued to harp on the upperclassmen’s “diminishing” play – especially in Miami’s three consecutive losses to end the year.

Rosier’s accuracy dipped. He completed just 40 of his 89 passes in those three games. He threw five interceptions compared to three touchdowns and it looked like head coach Mark Richt lost confidence in him and Rosier lost confidence in himself.

Rosier said Richt, who once told the former baseball player that he would “never play for him”, told him that working on his accuracy was job one in the offseason.

Throwing catchable passes will be a huge point of order for whoever is ultimately named Miami’s starting quarterback – which surely won’t happen during the spring.

Still, every rep counts for the Rosier as he tries to stave off redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry – the clear-cut fan favorite – as well as redshirt freshman Cade Weldon and true freshman Jarren Williams to a lesser degree.

During the media viewing period, however, Rosier didn’t evoke confidence.

Keeping it all in the proper perspective – with it being the first day of spring practice – Rosier knows that the advantage that he has over his younger quarterback contemporaries is his experience having led the Hurricanes huddle all last season.

“I have to do a better job of keeping my energy up,” Rosier said. “Sometimes last year, my energy was down and that made the other guys’ energy go down. I have to make sure that I stay up and lead these guys to be great. It has to come from me – it has to be player-led.”

Quick Hits

>>> Perry did look as though he’s added weight to his frame. Since arriving on campus last summer, the 6-foot-4, Ocala native has added at least 15 pounds. He is listed at 185 pounds on the team’s official spring football roster.

>>> Rosier was the first quarterback in all the drills during the media viewing period. Perry was No. 2, Weldon was No. 3, Williams was No. 4 and walk-on Augie DeBiase was No. 5.

>>> Richt, who only spoke to gathered media for just over two minutes, said that he altered the way the team went through reps because of roster constraints.

>>> While the offensive linemen were on the opposite end of the Canes practice field away from the media during the viewing period, it was seen that redshirt junior George Brown and redshirt senior Jahair Jones were with the No. 1 line.

Miami offensive coordinator/running backs coach Thomas Brown said that Jones’ and Brown’s placement with No. 1 group was a result of their overall performance this offseason.

>>> Former cornerback Malek Young was at practice Tuesday. Young, who would’ve been a junior this season, had his football career ended due to a neck injury he sustained in Miami’s bowl game this past December. The school has already said that it will continue to honor Young’s scholarship and apparently the coaching staff has welcomed him to still be with the team during practices.

>>> Tuesday was the first official practice for new defensive line coach Jess Simpson. Miami hired Simpson at the end of February to replace Craig Kuligowski, who took the same position at Alabama. Simpson, a highly successful high school coach in Georgia, seemed enthusiastic Tuesday – running around with players as they shuttled from drill to drill and offering spirited encouragement and instruction.

>>> Senior safety Jaquan Johnson was absent from the first part of Tuesday’s practice. He was seen later and participated fully. When asked about the brief absence, Johnson said he has morning class that conflicts with the start time of practice.

>>> Rosier gave props to true freshmen defensive backs Gurvan Hall (Palm Beach Gardens) and Gilbert Frierson (Coral Gables HS) for their play Tuesday.

Personal sources have confirmed that Hall, Frierson and sophomore Trajan Bandy have looked “great” during offseason “MAT drills” – also saying that they handled the grueling and taxing workouts better than most young players do.

>>> Two former Canes were on campus Tuesday. Former wide receiver Braxton Berrios, who was Miami’s leading receiver this past season, was seen on the field talking to the receivers during practice and tight end David Njoku was seen walking around the field after practice. Berrios was also working on fielding kicks after practice once the team cleared the field – likely in preparation for Miami’s pro day (on March 28) and any upcoming individual workouts he has with pro teams.

J.T. Wilcox
J.T. Wilcox is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked in South Florida for more than a decade. He authors "The Bald Predictions" blog and "The Baldcast" podcast.

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