College Miami Hurricanes

UM Spring Notebook: Rosier Ahead Of Other QBs, Rousseau Has Big Day In Canes Scrimmage

Spring practice has nearly reached its apex for the University of Miami, signaled by the team going through its first full – and closed – scrimmage Saturday morning.

The Hurricanes’ intersquad showdown was closed to the media and the public, but UM head coach Mark Richt addressed the media afterward.

The first thing that jumps out about the offensive stats that Richt read was the performance of sophomore wide receiver Jeff Thomas. The speedster out of St. Louis showed this past season that he’s capable of “taking the top off the defense” and stretching the field – having the highest yards per reception average (22.0) of all Canes receivers with at least 15 catches and notching the team’s longest reception of the season (78 yards).

Richt said that he started leaning his play-calling towards Thomas during Saturday’s scrimmage.

Rosier Still Leading

Thomas impressive stat line aside, everyone’s attention went to the quarterback’s stats.

Richt spelled out how the reps were split between his three active signal callers.

It seems that redshirt senior quarterback Malik Rosier continues to fill the role of “QB1” – getting the most reps with the No. 1 offense and still receiving the most pats on the back from Richt about his performance.

Fans continue to clamor Richt to hand the keys over to redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry, but Rosier’s ability to make sound decisions and operate Richt’s offense – thanks to his 13 games of experience running it – has kept him in the driver’s seat.

While Perry brings a “big play” element because of his athleticism and ability to extend or create plays, Rosier is a steady hand on the tiller and often puts Richt and the coaching staff more at ease because he has the experience.

The performance of early enrollee freshman quarterback Jarren Williams was impressive. The 6-foot-2, 206-pound former U.S. Army All-American has taken full advantage of his participation in the spring session and has shown coaches the skills that made him the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the 2018 class.

Richt gave an update on the quarterback battle and where each one stands in his eyes.

The rushing stats Richt gave left a bit to be desired. It was encouraging to see that Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas each scored touchdowns.

Early enrollee freshman running back Lorenzo Lingard, a 5-star recruit, couldn’t find any running room – but that was probably a result of his running behind the No. 2 offensive line.

Richt said Lingard and other early enrollees – receivers Brian Hightower and Daquris Wiggins – did show some positive things Saturday and throughout the spring.

Rousseau Dominates

Richt also gave out the defensive stats of the day.

Early enrollee freshman defensive end Greg Rousseau had the most eye-popping stat line of anyone Richt announced Saturday.

The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Rousseau apparently put into action what coaches and personal sources have said about him throughout the spring – that his physical tools of length and athleticism coupled with his willingness to accept coaching will result in great performances from him.

Richt has taken notice of Rousseau and knows how valuable of a gem he recruited.

Rousseau came out of Hialeah Champagnat Catholic High, a small (Class 2A) school in Miami-Dade County. The lanky athlete converted from wide receiver to defensive end full-time after his junior year and played a key role in leading the Lions to a 2017 2A state championship.

Ironically, this isn’t the first time that the tiny, tucked-away school has paid off in a huge way for the Hurricanes. Former 7-foot, UM center Tonye Jekiri also graduated from Champagnat.

Not A Good Day

In addition to Rousseau’s four-sack day, redshirt junior defensive lineman Scott Patchan finished with three sacks – which means Miami’s offensive line did not have a good day.

The Canes offensive line will have as many as two new starters this coming fall, and it would seem that no one made a strong case to earn one of those spots on Saturday.

The three holdovers from the 2017 season – tackle Tyree St. Louis, guard Navaughn Donaldson and center Tyler Gauthier – have been routinely seen during viewing periods working with the No. 1 offensive line this spring.

Redshirt junior George Brown (6-foot-7, 300 pounds) and redshirt senior Jahair Jones (6-foot-4, 316 pounds) have been filling the other two spots according to the coaching staff, but Richt confirmed after Saturday’s scrimmage that they are willing to move players around to find the five best linemen.

Depth A Concern

Saturday’s dress rehearsal allowed Richt to get a live look at his team, but it also reinforced the narrative that the Hurricanes are still lacking in terms of quantitative depth.

Richt has routinely said that his second unit is shallow and his No. 3 group is barely enough for the team to go “7-on-7”.

There are 89 players listed on Miami’s spring roster, but that number doesn’t account for injured players.

Because of the sheer lack of able bodies, Richt said that Saturday’s scrimmage was “offense versus defense” opposed to two separate teams that had both offensive and defensive players.

He said that next week’s spring game, which is open to the public and will be held at Hard Rock Stadium at 6 p.m., could follow a similar format.

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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