Throughout the season, we have seen and grown accustomed to first half Rosier vs. second half Rosier’s action on the field. In the previous 10 games, first half Rosier was inconsistent and unpredictable which lead to slow starts while second half Rosier always made enough clutch plays to win. In the regular season finale against the 4-7 Pittsburgh Panthers, this script did not play out as well for the Canes or Malik Rosier. In the first half, Rosier connected on 8 of his 14 passes (57%) which is slightly above his completion percentage average for the season. In the second half, the Rosier we expected to see, revitalized and ready to win, did not show up but instead declined significantly from the first half. He went 7 of 20 passing for a 35% completion percentage.
Overall, he went 15/34 for 187 yards and 2 TDs, but he left a ton of points on the field by over shooting wide open targets repeatedly. Coach Mark Richt described his play by saying Rosier “flat out miss[ed] his targets”. His play declined so far that at the 10 minute mark of the fourth quarter he was pulled for an offensive series and replaced by backup QB Evan Sheriffs. This was Rosier’s third game this season where he completed less than 50% of his passes, with 44.1% against Pitt. The previous two games were against the North Carolina Tar Heels and Florida State Seminoles.
The biggest question mark heading into Saturday's ACC Championship Game against the Clemson Tigers is how will Rosier respond to not only his poor performance during the Pitt game, but also by being benched. Following his previous two statically poor games, Malik Rosier bounced back against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Virginia Tech Hokies to complete 34 of 59 (58%) passes for a combined 499 yards. As far as being benched, that may be harder to get over. Pulling him during the fourth quarter baffled many and some wonder if this will impact his play going forward. For example, will he play tense trying not to make a mistake for fear of being taken out at any minute. Rosier’s inattentiveness and inaccuracies against Pitt could have stemmed from a number of things such as his shoulder injury during the UNC game or the Thanksgiving holiday where he was able to spend time with his father after his stroke (which occurred prior to the Notre Dame game) and the obvious emotions that come with that. But, based on his own words, I believe he simply overlooked Pitt and took winning for granted. During his post-game interview Rosier stated that during the Pitt game he had become "complacent", and that he was just "going through [his] reads instead of focusing every snap". Regardless of the reason, all signs point to him moving forward with no lingering affects. Offensive Coordinator, Thomas Brown stated
"Sunday night [practice] was [Rosier's] best night and it was our best night as an offense. [Tuesday practice] was a great practice probably one of the best Tuesdays all year. Because it starts with the QB and when he has the right mindset, taking charge and pushing the tempo everybody else responds.”
As Coach Vince Lombardi said, “it’s not whether you got knocked down; it’s whether you get back up”. The Canes must hope that benching Rosier pushed the right buttons and he will get back up more focused than ever. His accuracy against Clemson's talented defense will be the difference in the game. If not, the #7 Canes will be on the outside looking in on the College Football Playoffs and will have to wait until next year to try and win that elusive ACC championship for the first time ever.
What are your thoughts on Rosier being benched and do you think he will bounce back?