New QB, dif­fer­ent re­sults?

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - SPORTS - By Christy Cabr­era Chiri­nos

CO­RAL GABLES — Hur­ri­canes coach Mark Richt has in­sisted — re­peat­edly — that even as some of Mi­ami’s goals have slipped away over the course of the last month, he’s not been ready to give up on the sea­son and start look­ing ahead to next year just yet.

As Mi­ami pre­pares for a Sat­ur­day night show­down at Ge­or­gia Tech, the Hur­ri­canes still haven’t se­cured bowl el­i­gi­bil­ity. And de­spite their three-game los­ing streak, they still aren’t tech­ni­cally elim­i­nated from the ACC’s Coastal Divi­sion race, though they’d prac­ti­cally need a mir­a­cle to re­turn to Char­lotte and play for a con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship.

And so, while some Hur­ri­canes fans who have made the trek to At­lanta may be watch­ing and won­der­ing if quar­ter­back N’Kosi Perry’s au­di­tion to be Mi­ami’s starter in 2019 will be­gin in earnest at Bobby Dodd Sta­dium, Richt in­sisted Thurs­day that af­ter an in­tense week of prac­tice, it’s the red­shirt fresh­man that he be­lieves will give the Hur­ri­canes their

best chance to win.

“I’m look­ing to win games. That’s what we’re here to do, and we owe it to our se­niors and we owe it to our vet­er­ans and we owe it to every­body,” Richt said ear­lier this week when asked if he be­lieved it was time to give Mi­ami’s younger quar­ter­backs more play­ing time. “Our thought process is to try and win th­ese games. That’s it.”

Perry, who has played in seven games this sea­son and started three, is the quar­ter­back who has got­ten the call now and the chal­lenge ahead of him won’t be par­tic­u­larly easy.

Travis Homer, one of the Hur­ri­canes’ top of­fen­sive play­mak­ers, has been a lim­ited par­tic­i­pant in some prac­tices this week while deal­ing with a strained calf mus­cle, and it’s un­clear how ef­fec­tive he can be a week af­ter he had a sea­son-high 133 yards against Duke. And Ge­or­gia Tech isn’t ex­actly known for let­ting op­po­nents have much time to work on of­fense, with its own of­fense putting to­gether long, me­thod­i­cal drives that usu­ally pro­vide a sig­nif­i­cant edge in time of pos­ses­sion.

But Richt is con­fi­dent that Perry — who has com­pleted 52 per­cent of his passes for 701 yards, 11 touch­downs and five in­ter­cep­tions — can be ef­fi­cient.

The Hur­ri­canes (5-4, 2-3) will need that, con­sid­er­ing they’ve scored a com­bined 39 points in losses to Vir­ginia, Bos­ton Col­lege and Duke.

“We talked about that to every­body on the of­fense,” Richt said. “It’s two to three, maybe four se­ries, less per game … we did the stats this year and it’s closer to three drives a game, on aver­age, less than what peo­ple would nor­mally get against a dif­fer­ent type of of­fense,” Richt said. “So, that’s cru­cial. The other thing that’s cru­cial is the field-po­si­tion game. We know we’ve got to do a bet­ter job punt­ing the ball. We’ve got to do a bet­ter job in that area be­cause, if we do get stopped, even if we move the ball, we’ve got to pin them deep. There will prob­a­bly be some times they’re go­ing to go for it on fourth down and if we get the stop there, then we might get good field po­si­tion and we’ve got to take ad­van­tage of that and get some points on the board. It’s also im­por­tant to keep drives go­ing.”

While of­fen­sively the Hur­ri­canes will have to be ef­fi­cient, de­fen­sively, pa­tience may be the key.

Ge­or­gia Tech’s triple-op­tion of­fense has been run­ning on all cylin­ders.

Ge­or­gia Tech (5-4, 3-3), which has won two straight and four of its last five games, has the na­tion’s top rush­ing of­fense, with quar­ter­backs To­bias Oliver and TaQuon Mar­shall com­bin­ing to rush for 1,439 yards, while run­ning back Jor­dan Ma­son has added 604.

Tech has thrown the ball just 42 times all sea­son and that’s one of the rea­sons Hur­ri­canes vet­eran corner­back Michael Jack­son says he and his team­mates will have to be at their best — and on alert.

“I’m not a cor­ner. It’s as sim­ple as that. I’m not a cor­ner, I’m a foot­ball player,” Jack­son said. “They’re go­ing to test you and see if you can tackle. They’re go­ing to try to see if you’re scared to get cut [block]. No mat­ter if you got cut 10 plays in a row, you’ve still [got to] come up and be as phys­i­cal as pos­si­ble on that 11th play, be­cause that play might change the game.”

MICHAEL LAUGH­LIN/SUN SEN­TINEL

Red­shirt fresh­man quar­ter­back N’Kosi Perry will get the start Sat­ur­day at Ge­or­gia Tech as the Hur­ri­canes try to se­cure bowl el­i­gi­bil­ity with a win.

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