In the modern era of college football many coaches are doing away with using a redshirt for skill players. Coaches are finding ways to get running backs, receivers, defensive backs and linebackers in on special teams and letting quarterbacks get vital reps during mop up duty on either side of a big win. The redshirt, more often than not in 2017 and beyond, will be used on offensive and defensive linemen and injured players rather than skill guys. The reason is their value in the kicking game, the amount of injuries that pile up over a season, and the amount of players that leave early for the NFL Draft whether they should or not. Offensive and defensive linemen are also often less developed and more in need of the diet, nutrition, and weight room to be prepared to go from blocking guys that are 5’10 190 to blocking grown men.
N’Kosi Perry should’ve been given playing time in 2017. I can look no further than what Tua Tagovailoa brought to the table for Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Tua threw three touchdowns against a Georgia Bulldogs defense that was ranked in the top 10 by the S&P+ before the game. That’s a true freshman throwing three touchdowns after coming in at halftime in the biggest game of his life and winning Bama its fifth title since 2009.
Over the course of the season Tua played in 9 games throwing 77 passes and running the football 27 times. Alabama was in the position to do so because they were winning football games by double-digits but Miami could’ve worked Perry into situations like they did Deejay Dallas in 2017, and Travis Homer in 2016. Mike Harley and Jeff Thomas didn’t quite look like world beaters but they got invaluable playing time as true freshman.
Look around the ACC; the Pitt Panthers got early playing time for Kenny Pickett before needing to start him at the end of the season to beat Miami. Daniel Jones at Duke had a sophomore slump but in 2016 he played in the first game and took over the role for the remainder of the season. UNC gave serious reps to Chazz Surratt to see what he had as well.
N’Kosi Perry could’ve been given the football against Bethune Cookman, Duke, and Notre Dame as well as towards the end of the Virginia and Toledo games. Evan Shirreffs had to have reminded crossover Miami Dolphins/Hurricanes fans of Ray Lucas. Lucas was a long time Dolphins back up that when he finally came in to a football game looked like he had never tied his cleats before.
If Perry had logged even 40 passes and 10 carries in real college football action the Miami staff would have more film on their young passer and real competition heading into the 2018 spring workouts and fall season. Instead, Malik Rosier has the clear advantage while Shirreffs looks like a career backup and Perry is behind the 8-ball.
One last point- think about the benefits it served Miami for Ken Dorsey to get playing time at the end of 1999. It pushed Kenny Kelly out, made Dorsey the starter, and 38-2 became Hurricane history. I by no means feel Butch Davis is a great coach, and he was forced into that hand with Kelly being injured, but the difference between Nick Saban and many other coaches is the confidence that what you have planned and what you believe in is going to work. That’s how Saban has won six national titles, and others have won zero.