College Miami Hurricanes

UM Spring Notebook: Rosier Is “The Man”; Canes O-Line Still Shuffling

Whether it’s after a practice or after a game, coaches will lament over what didn’t go right. No matter what or how much went right, even if just one thing went sideways – they’ll start wringing their hands.

The University of Miami had its first scrimmage of the spring this past Saturday – and while head coach Mark Richt was able to answer questions regarding the outcome of the controlled intersquad game with fair ease and perspective – he hadn’t yet watched the film.

The coaching staff had a couple of days to break down the game tape and was able to provide more marinated perspective Tuesday as the Hurricanes returned to the Greentree Practice Fields for their 10th spring practice session.

Unfortunately, Richt declined to speak with reporters Tuesday.

Instead, many of the assistant coaches were made available to speak after practice – including Richt’s son, Jon – the Hurricanes’ quarterback coach.

Quarterback Battle

The biggest narrative in Canes spring camp continues to be the perceived “quarterback battle”.

Much to the chagrin of Hurricanes fans, redshirt senior Malik Rosier continues to be viewed as the incumbent starting quarterback.

It’s been Rosier, the player broke Vinny Testaverde’s single-season touchdown record in 2017, who has been the first quarterback up in drills and has received the most reps with the No. 1 offense.

Mark Richt admitted that the upperclassman is still “QB1” after Saturday’s scrimmage.

While the clamor for redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry remains strong, so much so that there’s a bit of a Twitter following of supporters that have dubbed themselves the “Kosi Hive”, and there’s a growing fervor for early-enrollee freshman Jarren Williams – it would seem that neither of the youngsters is ready to unseat Rosier.

Jon Richt called Rosier “the man” Tuesday.

Telling words from the coach who is in the position room with Miami’s signal callers daily.

For all Rosier’s shortcomings – either perceived or tangible – he is still the only quarterback on the Hurricanes’ roster that has taken a snap in a college football game.

Perry and Cade Weldon dressed for every game this past season but only watched the games from the sideline – both receiving redshirts. Williams arrived on campus this past January.

Perry’s appeal is rooted in both the seen and the unseen.

UM super-fans have watched his highlight tape from his days as at Ocala Vanguard High and saw exciting plays of him carving up defenses with his arm and his legs.

But it’s also a bit of the old football adage ringing true: the most popular guy in town is the backup quarterback.

Because Perry has never stepped on the field, fans are left only with their imaginations, fantasies, and theories of what the 6-foot-4, 185-pound Perry could do with the ball.

As exciting as a player as Perry can be, he needed to add weight to his frame and still needs to show that he’s ready to fully operate in Mark Richt’s offense – something he’s only beginning to show he can do.

The young quarterbacks have the requisite talent, but Rosier provides real-game experience and has the “trust equity” that comes along with playing in 23 games over his career – something that none of his young contemporaries can currently offer.

However, just because he’s “the man” that doesn’t mean that the Richt’s aren’t still prodding Rosier to be the best version of himself.

Maturing as a leader has been near the top of Rosier’s offseason to-do list, right under him continuing to improve his accuracy as a passer.

Rosier’s accuracy fluctuated at times in 2017 – taking a dip for the worse at some of the most inopportune times this past season – and it still seems to be a work in progress this spring.

While it was not seen first-hand by the media, Rosier completed under 50 percent of his passes (8-of-17) during the team’s scrimmage this past Saturday according to the stats the team provided.

And he’s struggled with ball placement during passing drills that were during open viewing periods.

It’s fair to say that none of Miami’s quarterbacks will be on anyone’s preseason Heisman Watch List, but it’s also fair to expect them to be leaders of the offense and make the best available plays every time they’re on the field.

O-Line A Work In Progress

No matter who the quarterback is, they won’t have a very fruitful season if the five large guys in front of him can’t protect him.

According to the stats Mark Richt gave Saturday, the Canes O-Line allowed upwards of eight sacks during the scrimmage – four to freshman defensive end Gregory Rousseau alone.

Richt confirmed that offensive line coach Stacy Searels moved players around, out of their natural position to other spots along the line, to keep the defensive players out of the backfield.

Searels had a plain explanation about it Tuesday.

Searels confirmed that he moved sophomore Navaughn Donaldson from guard, the position he played all last season to right tackle during Tuesday’s practice.

He also said he tried Tyler Gauthier at tackle and Hayden Mahoney at center – when Gauthier moved out to tackle – and at both guard spots. Searels said that Mahoney has been the “most consistent” offensive linemen through the spring.

From Searels’ words Tuesday and Mark Richt’s words in previous practices, it would seem that senior Tyree St. Louis has been and will be the No. 1 left tackle; after that, however, the other four spots are still fluid.

Redshirt junior George Brown and redshirt senior Jahair Jones have been in the mix with the No. 1 O-Line – with Searels saying Tuesday that “Jones’ play is starting to reflect his ability” at the left guard spot.

Searels was complimentary of some of his young linemen, too.

He said early enrollee freshman Delone “DJ” Scaife could “play anywhere from left tackle to right tackle” and that he’s been trying to get the Miami Southridge product “as many reps as possible” while he’s been working as the No. 2 left guard.

Searels also said the redshirt freshman offensive tackle Kai-Leon Herbert has shown improvement and that sophomore lineman Corey Gaynor, who saw action in 10 games in 2017, is “in the mix” at the center and both guard spots.

Ready For Reinforcements

Another position that needs some reinforcements is tight end.

Miami only has three tight ends on its roster – junior Michael Irvin II, redshirt freshman Brian Polendey and walk-on Nick Ducheine – as they anticipate the arrival of No. 1 overall tight end prospect Brevin Jordan and 4-star prospect Will Mallory.

Miami tight end coach Todd Hartley said that he’s seen improvement from Irvin – who remains the No. 1 tight end for now – but there’s still room for improvement.

If Irvin wants to keep that No. 1 spot, he’d have to use the spring to show Hartley and the rest of the coaching staff that he’s ready to step into the “Tight End U” – and his family – lineage.

Ahmmon Richards Update

Junior receiver Ahmmon Richards continues to recover from December knee surgery, Hurricanes wide receivers coach/co-offensive coordinator Ron Dugans gave an update on his progress.

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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