As we continue our SOTU preseason coverage, we take a look at the position that gets the most scrutiny, and whose impact means more than any other on the offensive side of the ball: Quarterback
The easiest depth chart in the world
|Starter||Brad Kaaya||6'4" 210lbs||Junior||61.2% completions, 3238 yards, 16 TD, 5 INT|
|Backup OR||Malik Rosier||6'1" 212lbs||RS Sophomore||50.9% completions, 338 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT|
|Backup||Evan Shirreffs||6'6" 210lbs||RS Freshman||No stats (redshirt)|
|Vincent Testaverde||6'1" 195lbs||Junior (walk-on)||No stats (DNP - CD)|
|Jack Allison||6'6" 190lbs||Freshman||1450 yards, 11 TD, 5 INT from reported games as HS Senior (partial season stats)|
All About Brad
Entering his 3rd year as the Miami Hurricanes' starting QB, there's little doubt that Brad Kaaya is The Man at QB.
In 2 years, Kaaya has had great success on the field, while still leaving room for improvement. Over the course of his first 25 games in a Canes uniform, Kaaya has accumulated the following stats:
No matter how you slice it, those stats are damn good. Not only that, but Kaaya's stellar play in his first 2 years in Coral Gables has him within shouting distance of several all-time records for Miami Hurricanes QBs. When you consider Miami has had multiple Heisman Trophy winners, 1st round draft picks, and NFL Hall of Famers at this position previously, that's rare company Kaaya is keeping.
Among the records within Kaaya's grasp this season are:
- Completions (record: 703, needs 245 to break)
- Attempts (record: 1,170, needs 404 to break)
- Yards (record: 9,565, needs 3,127 to break).
So, Kaaya would basically need a 3% bump in completions and a 4% bump in attempts from 2015 (a season in which he missed nearly 2 full games) to break those records. And if Kaaya had even as many yards passing as he did as a freshman (a 1.2% reduction from 2015's total), he would break the yardage record. With Mark Richt coming to Miami to run a pro-style system that should highlight Kaaya's abilities, those records are well, WELL within his reach with a solid 2016 season.
Further supporting the arguments that Kaaya is incredibly good are the fact that multiple NFL Draft prognostications and rankings have the 6'4" Los Angeles native at or near the top of their respective lists. Some of those links for your reading pleasure:
- Brad Kaaya is worth the hype - David Perez, State of the U
- Brad Kaaya is "most NFL Ready QB" in America - Matt Miller, Bleacher/Report
- "Brad Kaaya is the model NFL QB" - ACC Assistant to ESPN
- Brad Kaaya ranked #1 Pro-Style QB in America - Brad Pedersen, Bleacher/Report
- SBNation NFL Mock Draft has Brad Kaaya going 2nd overall - SBNation.com
- Can Mark Richt build Brad Kaaya into a 1st Round NFL Draft Pick? - Matt Brown, Sports On Earth
- Brad Kaaya interview - Andrea Adelson, ESPN ACC
Battle for Backup
After throwing 97% of the passes for Miami as a freshman, Kaaya dropped down to *only* throwing 86% of the passes for the Canes in 2015. This, of course, was impacted by Kaaya missing most of the Clemson game and the entire Duke game due to concussion.
Battling for the backup QB spot are RS sophomore Malik Rosier and RS Freshman Evan Shirreffs. You would be hard pressed to find 2 players with as differing skillsets as Rosier and Shirreffs. Rosier, once a dual sport athlete who played football and baseball, is an athletic player who can run and pass with equal effectiveness. Shirreffs is a tall pocket passer whose quick decisions and accuracy are his biggest strengths.
While there are other players at the Quarterback position (we'll get to them in a minute), Rosier and Shirreffs are the players who will battle for the backup QB spot behind Brad Kaaya in 2016. It would take a yeoman's effort from one of the other players to vault into this conversation.
In 2015, Rosier was the backup while Shirreffs redshirted. Rosier saw plenty of action, playing nearly 3/4ths of the Clemson game, and the entire Duke game after Brad Kaaya sustained a concussion in the 1st half of the Clemson game. Shirreffs was relegated to scout team duties in his redshirt year.
In terms of experience, the clear edge goes to Rosier. He's started and won an ACC road game. Shirreffs has yet to take a collegiate snap. However, that's not the only basis for comparison.
In terms of scheme fit, how well the best attributes of the players above mesh with what Mark Richt will want to do on offense, I think Shirreffs is the clear winner. Shirreffs, valedictorian of his HS class in 2015, is a smart player who can diagnose defenses and make quick decisions. The quick and timing passing games, i.e. hit your (insert number) step of your drop then the ball is out, is a perfect fit for Shirreffs. Meanwhile, Rosier struggled with those concepts both last year and in the spring after Richt was hired and installed the foundation of the offense.
I've long maintained that Shirreffs would win the backup QB job in 2016, and I'm not going to deviate from that thought now. Whether he can reward my faith, or whether Rosier can improve and take a big leap forward to hold onto the backup job remain to be seen. But, as of today, my money's on Evan Shirreffs to be the Canes backup in 2016.
The Other Guys
A quick look at the other players at the QB position:
- Vincent Testaverde - the Junior walk-on is the son of Canes legend and 1986 Heisman Trophy Winner Vinny Testaverde. He played at Texas Tech in 2014 before transferring to Miami in 2015. The younger Testaverde adds depth and a modicum of talent to the QB position. But, Miami would be in a bad, bad place if he were to take meaningful snaps at QB this season.
- Jack Allison - this 4-star recruit enrolled early in January 2016 and participated in Spring Practice. Allison has the talent to be the Canes' QB of the future. He's 6'6" 190lbs and will need to add muscle to his thin frame. Allison's best attribute is his arm: he has AN ABSOLUTE CANNON for an arm. You talk about a guy being able to throw a football through a brick wall? That's Allison. He will, however, need to add accuracy and touch to his arsenal. In a perfect world (which is reasonable considering the depth ahead of him at this position), Allison will take a redshirt in 2016 and then begin competing for snaps in the coming years.
The 2016 season will be defined by 2 things: what the new defense under Manny Diaz looks like, and what the offense directed by Brad Kaaya does.
Much like 2014 and 2015, this is Brad Kaaya's team. He's the man at QB, and excluding another concussion or injury, he will be the trigger man for the offense. Brad Kaaya is an elite talent, and Miami is lucky to have him as our Quarterback.
Here's a video blog I did with Mark Rogers talking about the Canes' QB situation
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That's it for the QB position preview. Vote in the poll and leave a comment below.