Chang­ing QBs tough for Richt

Switch­ing to Perry hit per­sonal note for coach

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - By Christy Cabr­era Chiri­nos South Flor­ida Sun Sen­tinel

A for­mer Hur­ri­canes quar­ter­back him­self, Mark Richt un­der­stands the pres­sure that comes with play­ing the po­si­tion at Mi­ami.

He knows, too, how frus­trat­ing it can be to be the guy be­hind the guy, the backup who prac­tices and pre­pares day in and day out never re­ally know­ing when — or even if — the op­por­tu­nity to play will ever re­ally come.

“I spent my whole life be­hind a guy named Jim Kelly,” Richt said this past week. “It’s not fun to be in that po­si­tion. I un­der­stand the feel­ing.”

For the bet­ter part of the last year, red­shirt fresh­man N’Kosi Perry was that backup. He dressed for ev­ery game in 2017, but never stepped on the field. He started this sea­son sus­pended and didn’t travel for Mi­ami’s sea­son opener against LSU.

Perry fi­nally made his Mi­ami de­but in a blowout win over Sa­van­nah State ear­lier Hur­ri­canes coach Mark Richt made the de­ci­sion last week to give red­shirt fresh­man N'Kosi Perry his first start.

this month and played a hand­ful of snaps in the win at Toledo.

Mean­while, vet­eran Ma­lik Rosier was the starter. He helped lead the Hur­ri­canes to 10 straight wins last sea­son and while he strug­gled late in the year dur­ing the Hur­ri­canes’ three-game slide and again in the opener, he man­aged to hang on to his job, even as Mi­ami fans clam­ored for a change.

Rosier spent his off­sea­son work­ing on his foot­work and try­ing to im­prove his ac­cu­racy, things he knew would help him con­tinue im­prov­ing so he could lead the Hur­ri­canes to an­other ACC Coastal Di­vi­sion ti­tle.

But as Rosier worked to im­prove, so too, did Perry. The younger quar­ter­back gained a stronger grasp of the Hur­ri­canes’

of­fense and be­gan show­ing the kind of ma­tu­rity on and off the field that had been miss­ing since his ar­rival in Coral Gables as a highly touted four-star prospect.

All of that, com­bined with the fact Perry had played well in his limited op­por­tu­ni­ties, prompted Richt to start won­der­ing about the pos­si­bil­ity of play­ing Perry in a game that hadn’t been de­cided.

That chance came in Mi­ami’s fourth game of the sea­son against FIU.

Af­ter Rosier started that game and presided over two score­less of­fen­sive se­ries, Richt sent Perry out for the third. The young quar­ter­back con­nected on his first 10 pass at­tempts, led two quick touch­down drives and made it vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble for the coach to take him out of what was even­tu­ally a 31-17 win over the Pan­thers.

The torch had seem­ingly, been passed and five days later, af­ter a lit­tle bit of mys­tery, it was Perry — not Rosier — who started the Hur­ri­canes’ ACC opener against North Carolina last Thurs­day, an even­tual 47-10 Mi­ami win.

“Ma­lik didn’t do any­thing wrong,” Richt said of his de­ci­sion. “Just, N’Kosi kept com­ing on and I felt like it was time to give him the best op­por­tu­nity.”

As he did against FIU, Perry de­liv­ered. Though his op­por­tu­ni­ties were limited be­cause Mi­ami ran just 46 plays against North Carolina, Perry than held his own, com­plet­ing 8-of-12 passes for 125 yards and a touch­down.

And though he had two turnovers on back-to-back pos­ses­sions in the se­cond half, both Perry and Richt were pleased with how things went.

“It was good, but it can al­ways be bet­ter,” Perry said. “Al­ways room for improvement.”

Said Richt, “Very ac­cu­rate. The first pass of the game was just beau­ti­ful. If we’d taken a lit­tle bet­ter an­gle by the re­ceiver, it might have scored a touch­down. … He made a lot of dif­fer­ent kinds of throws and was

pretty im­pres­sive in that. He made a cou­ple mis­takes on a cou­ple reads. He was work­ing the wrong side of the field maybe once or twice, but noth­ing hor­ri­ble by any means. For the most part, I thought he played re­ally good.”

What hap­pened at Mi­ami this past week is part of a trend in col­lege foot­ball, with proven vet­eran quar­ter­backs be­ing re­placed by promis­ing young­sters.

This week, Richt con­ceded the con­ver­sa­tions he’s had to have with Rosier have been dif­fi­cult, but he’s had ex­traor­di­nar­ily high praise for how the fifth-year se­nior has han­dled mov­ing into the backup role.

“If I go from my per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence as a backup all through­out my col­le­giate ca­reer, I know what it feels like to be a backup. I know what it feels like to be one play away and also maybe not get in a game,” Richt said. “The quar­ter­back po­si­tion is one you don’t freely sub very of­ten. It’s not easy news to de­liver. It’s not easy news to take. Ma­lik did a very good job through­out the week and even in the ball­game of stay­ing pos­i­tive and stay­ing up­beat the best he could. But it was not easy news to take or give.”

And the coach also pointed out that with the way the col­lege game has changed, it’s not out of the realm of pos­si­bil­ity both Perry and Rosier could con­tinue see­ing time as the Hur­ri­canes move through the rest of their ACC sched­ule and face the likes of FSU, Vir­ginia, Bos­ton Col­lege, Ge­or­gia Tech, Vir­ginia Tech and more in the com­ing weeks.

“I think it may be more and more com­mon to play two guys be­cause of how much these guys run,” Richt said. “Not only does run­ning put you ex­posed to be­ing tack­led, it ex­erts you. … Quar­ter­backs, I’ve seen [them] cramp up in the mid­dle of the game be­cause it’s hot and they’re run­ning a lot more than they used to.

“So it makes sense, for sure, to have two that can play.”

JOEL AUERBACH/GETTY

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