Following a Miami Hurricanes victory in the 2000 Orange Bowl against in-state rival Florida State University, Canes’ great Santana Moss uttered the iconic phrase "big time players step up in big games”. Fast forward 17 years later and Canes’ signal caller, Malik Rosier, made big time plays in the 62nd meeting against those same Seminoles.
This rivalry game was simply a tale of two halves and the first half was a forgettable one for the RS Junior QB and the entire offense. The Canes ran into a hard nose FSU defense, arguably their toughest test this season, which showed why they are ranked one of the top units in the nation. The Canes tried to establish the run early in drives, but FSU limited them to only 27 rushing yards in the half and placed the Canes in predictable passing downs. This inability to run made things difficult for the passing game and Miami WRs were not able to create separation. The FSU DBs were allowed to ‘play physical’ all night. Compiling the issue, the Canes had poor field position the entire half with an average starting position on their own 20-yard line. Rosier finished the half 4/16 passing with 34 yards. The Canes were shutout for a half the first time this year and had four “3 and outs” on 7 drives. Adding insult to injury, the Canes never took an offensive snap in FSU territory.
This statically poor performance drew extreme criticism from the fan base and on social media with many screaming for the QB to be benched. But, as Coach Mark Richt stated during his post-game conference, “stats really don’t matter…you have to make the play in games like these.” In the second half, Rosier made plays. After settling down and making halftime adjustments, the Canes placed the ball in their gunslingers hand and went to a pass first attack in the second half. This adjustment was the difference in the game as Rosier connected on 15 of his 28 passes for 3 TDs and 1 INT. Overall, the Canes offense, in the second half, was extremely effective with only one “3 and out” and 4 out of 9 drives starting on their 40-yard line or better.
Rosier made his biggest mark on the game when it counted the most, the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter. Down by 3, he led a 75-yard drive that was capped off by a 6-yard TD to Braxton Berrios for their second TD of the half to take the lead. The Canes defense wasn’t able to make a stop on the following drive and FSU was able to respond with a TD. With 1:24 remaining, Rosier again showed his leadership ability and his will to win when he told the team “they gave us plenty of time to go score.” Then [looking at his O-Line] “if you give me enough time, I promise you will score.” He delivered on his promise when he connected with Darrell Langham on a 23-yard TD with 6 seconds remaining to end the game and FSU’s 7 straight wins streak. On the last two drives, Rosier was 7/11 for 118 yards and 2 TDs and on the last drive he was without his star assets WR Ahmmon Richards, RB Mark Walton and OL Navaughn Donaldson who were out with injuries. This drive will forever etch his name among the top performers of this storied rivalry.
Going forward, Rosier will need to continue leaving his mark on this team and willing them to win as they battle for their first ACC Championship appearance. Unfortunately, on Sunday, the Hurricanes announced that Walton suffered a season ending injury and the status of Richards and Donaldson’s status is unknown for Saturday. These injuries will place even more on the shoulders of Rosier and he will need to take his game to the next level. Can he be “the man” for the Hurricanes offense?
What a way to end a drought!— ESPN (@espn) October 7, 2017
Trailing by 3, Miami's dramatic TD with 6 seconds left ends a 7-game losing streak to rival Florida State. pic.twitter.com/bmGRHA3J7Z
Let me know your thoughts on Malik Rosier. Has he won you over or is the jury still deliberating?