Richt breaks down process of naming Rosier starter
Today, head coach Mark Richt named Malik Rosier the starting QB for the Hurricanes’ opener against Bethune-Cookman. So, what did Rosier do to that led to this accomplishment?
“Focus, discipline, and accuracy,” Richt said. “(Rosier) showed up focused every day on his job, was disciplined in his fundamentals, his footwork, his reads, his passing fundamentals. And then he was on his target. He did a very good job.”
However, Richt’s decision to go with Rosier was not a landslide one. Rosier had the better fall camp to be sure, but only lightly nudged out Evan Shirreffs (who was named the #2) for the right to take the opening snap at Hard Rock Stadium on September 2nd. Rosier was Brad Kaaya’s backup the past 2 seasons and none of the other quarterbacks did enough to unseat him as the top returning QB on the roster.
“(Rosier) did stand out above the rest. It wasn’t an unbelievable amount but it was apparent that he was having the best camp. And Evan did extremely well. But I felt there was enough of a difference to feel comfortable that Malik’s the guy.”
Many expected dynamic true freshman QB N’Kosi Perry to beat out the returning veterans and come right in and take a hold of the starting position. However, Perry showed he still had some growing up to do on the field and, along with fellow freshman Cade Weldon, both were plagued with accuracy issues and mental errors in camp.
“You could see the skillset of N’Kosi and Weldon,” Richt said. “Not only are they smart and all that, but they have the ability to make plays, whether it’s with their wheels or their arm. When they get it right, it looks really good. But, on a consistent basis, even if (there’s a mistake) one out of five plays, it’s way too many. I told N’Kosi, I told Cade, just keep competing everyday, you never know what can happen.”
There’s been plenty of talk that even if Perry was not named the starter initially, he would still be worked into gameplans via special packages designed to take advantage of his running ability. Richt said nothing to shut that idea down, but he won’t be switching QB’s back and forth.
“I won’t do that (switch QB’s back and forth),” Richt said. “Could a (backup) get in the game? Maybe a series in the first half or something like that, I would consider that because I think guys are capable of that, but I’m not sure yet, haven’t gone that far yet.”
Richt also said no decision has been made on redshirting either of the freshman QB’s.
“Well, you don’t really have to decide until game 4. Sometimes you may say ‘I think I want to redshirt a guy’ but if someone goes down (you may need him).”
Richt had a gem of a quote when talking about his QB competition with Jim Kelly when he was a member of the Hurricanes back in the day, and how he stuck it out at Miami instead of transferring after being named backup QB.
“I used to call him `Lucky Jim’ because the guy was lucky,” Richt joked. “I can truthfully say he was better than I was. My mom still would not admit that... it’s not easy being No. 2. There was a moment where I’m like `I’m leaving’. I left the team for like a week, and I didn’t like how it felt. I felt like a quitter, and I didn’t want to be a quitter. So I groveled, went back to coach Schnellenberger and asked him if I could come back on the team. When I said I was leaving, it was after the spring game, he said, `If you change your mind let me know.’ He did open the door for me. Within a few days, I was like, ‘This doesn’t feel right. I love this place. I love my teammates. I’m not leaving.’ Did I play a lot of ball here? No. But God blessed my decision to stick it out and try to do what was in the best interest of the team.”
Making decisions in the best interest of the team can be noble, but, just as coaches leave schools for better jobs and higher paychecks, sometimes players have to do what’s right for them at the moment. Having said all that, though, Richt would be “shocked” if any of his stable of QB’s left the program at this time.
“Everybody has to make choices in life,” Richt started. “They all know they’re learning, they all know they’re growing, they all know they’re getting better. They understand there’s competition everywhere you go. You can go somewhere for greener grass, well guess what? They got a bunch of dudes there too. They know the system. You’re going to be behind the 8-ball if you go somewhere else.”
Walton, Berrios react to QB news
For the players, there was a sense of relief finally knowing they have “their guy” at QB and getting rid of the elephant in the room so they could focus on doing their jobs.
“It’s nice to turn that page... there’s finally one set in stone person now. Just knowing (the starter), it’s one less question mark,” senior WR Braxton Berrios said. “And that was a big question mark... It was nice to hear, nice to get it done."
“It was great: as an offense we feel great about it,” junior RB Mark Walton said. “Whoever coach would have announced, I would have been excited for them. I think Malik did a great job this camp, think he’ll lead us in the right direction as a quarterback.”
Previously, Rosier started only one game in college, the 2015 lateral-filled thriller at Duke. What did Rosier show in that win over the Blue Devils?”
“That he can do it,” Berrios (who had 3 catches for 18 yards in that game) said. “He finally had a game where he was walking in, would be the starting quarterback. He took a shot that first series in the end zone and threw a perfect ball. From then on he solidified himself where `I can do this.’ We’ve always known that.”
Coach Richt mentioned that “focus, discipline, and accuracy” set Rosier apart. The team took notice of Rosier’s mentality in readying himself to take the reigns from Kaaya and are excited about the strides he’s made in his play compared to last year.
“I like the way his game developed,” Walton said. “He’s more calm in the pocket now, also can run, makes it complex for the defense. He’ll make it easier for me, too... He lets the plays develop, when he throws the ball it’s on the money for the receivers to catch it. Also he puts the ball in tight windows, makes it difficult for the defense to intercept the ball. I just like his game all-around.”
“His maturity, decision making (improved),” Berrios said. “He’s always had great athleticism, it was in his younger years he’d get flustered, get rushed, just make bad decisions, decisions you can’t make as a QB, turn the ball over. Really in that aspect of decision-making he’s grown tremendously. From freshman year to now, it’s a tremendous difference... He had a tremendous camp, he really did.”
- Walton bruised his hip in the first scrimmage 2 weekends ago, but said there was nothing to worry about and the injury was a minor one: he’ll be ready to go on September 2nd against Bethune-Cookman.