Spring ends for Miami
QBs Rosier, Shirreffs gain separation from others
But quarterback race for ’Canes still raging on.
CORAL GABLES — When the spring practice began for the Hurricanes last month, the message was simple.
Though Hurricanes coach Mark Richt would not name a quarterback until the fall, there was a pressing need to see which of the players vying for the job — Malik Rosier, Evan Shirreffs, Jack Allison, Vincent Testaverde and Cade Weldon — could be the most consistent.
As the Hurricanes prepare to close out the spring with a final scrimmage Saturday afternoon at Boca Raton High, it’s become evident that Rosier and Shirreffs have distanced themselves fromthe pack of quarterbacks looking to fill the starting role left vacated by the NFL bound Brad Kaaya.
The two have split the majority of first-team reps in restarting cent weeks and both have made plays that have impressed their coaches, teammates and each other. But both acknowledge
there is still much work to be done, especially with freshman N’Kosi Perry set to arrive next month and join the quarterback race.
The biggest challenge they say they face? Being more consistent, something more than a few observers of Miami’s closed scrimmages and practices have noted has lacked throughout the spring.
“There have been moments where you’ve seen Evan throw an amazing ball, you’ve seen Jack through an amazing ball, you’ve seen Cade do phenomenal and then there are times we’ve just completely busted,” said Rosier, a redshirt junior who has served as Kaaya’s backup the last two seasons and is the only player in the group to have started an ACC game. “It’s one of those things.… Forus, the quarterbacks, we have to be more consistent and show [Richt] that every play, we’re going to do the right thing every time. … There are times where everyone looks like the starting quarterback, and then there’s times where it looks like [we] shouldn’t be here at Miami. … We have to make sure every time we step on the field, we’re the starting quarterback. That’s the biggest thing we have to improve on.”
Added Shirreffs: “The main thing for me has been trying to showthat I’m consistent. Everyone’s going to have a bad play here and there, but you have to minimize those, come back the next play and just make up for it.”
The other challenge facing the eventual starter is
“For us, the quarterbacks, we have to be more consistent and show [Richt] that every play, we’re going to do the right thing every time.” Malik Rosier, UM quarterback
finding a way to command the huddle.
Understandably, neither Rosier nor Shirreffs was very vocal last season, each deferring to Kaaya and other veterans on the Miami roster.
But both have worked to make progress on that front, guiding teammates and showing they can handle the challenges that could come their way when it’s not their defense chasing them down in practice, but for example, the one they’ll see in Week Three when Miami travels to Tallahassee to face Florida State.
“I think those guys have separated themselves, and they’ve taken most of the first-team reps partially because of them being able to retain the information and knowing what to do with it, but also taking command,” Hurricanes offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. “There’s still going to be a long process like we’ve been saying from day one … Obviously last year, they were competing for a spot, but still, in the back of your mind, believing I’m going to be the backup to Brad, it’s difficult to really go out there and show out every single snap.… Knowing it’s a wide-open job and you have an opportunity and it’s going to be on you to decide whether or not you step up to the challenge or let somebody else beat you out, it’s made those guys kind of answer the bell a little bit more.”
While Rosier and Shirreffs may have used the spring to separate themselves from the rest of the quarterbacks in the race, Richt noted earlier this week the hierarchy in the quarterback room can change, even before the Hurricanes open camp.
And he’s not opposed to continuing to challenge his quarterbacks once the season begins.
“We may start somebody and … It’s not like we have an established guy where he’s got three games to struggle and we know he’s still the guy,” Richt said. “I’m not saying we’re going to have a quick trigger, but I’m not going to sit here all day, two, three games and let a guy die on the vine if he’s not handling it well. But the thing you have to learn in quarterback play, too is, you have to determine if you’re not scoring points: Is it because the quarterback is struggling or is it because we’re having trouble running the ball or protecting, things like that. We have to be careful not to yank him for no good reason, but the bottom line is, we’re trying to find who can handle the pressure of this job when the time comes.”
Malik Rosier (12) and Evan Shirreffs have distanced themselves in the quarterback chase, but a decision is still a long ways off for coach Mike Richt.