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Miami Hurricanes Football: To take the next step, a change is needed at QB

Malik Rosier isn’t the answer.

ACC Football Championship - Clemson v Miami Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

So, let me start by saying I’ve been thinking about this piece for a while. But, I wanted to see what Mark Richt was going to say about the QB competition/position first.

In this piece by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Richt offers a few noteworthy statements about the QB position. And I quote:

“Backing up on this QB thing, it’s not like ground zero competition. Malik is our starting quarterback but we are going to let everybody compete and see who’s improved and see who might be able to overtake anybody at any position.

Earlier in the spring, Richt said there would be competition at the QB position. The first statement above contradicts the previous statement, or puts additional context on it (you can decide, I’m not going to fight you on the semantics).

I get that in coach speak you can’t say “our QB wasn’t good enough last year and we need an upgrade”, but I’m not a coach so I can say exactly that. Richt is, understandably and frustratingly, taking a more neutral (maybe even favorable) approach to the situation.

Also in the Jackson piece linked above, Richt went on to say the following:

“I’m not saying Malik is not the starting quarterback going into this thing. If he does what he’s supposed to do, he’ll probably continue to be.”

This is what I meant when I tweeted that Richt was “hedging” in order to lay a foundation to start Rosier again in 2018.

I have been openly critical of Malik Rosier going back to this time last year, and nothing I saw last year gave me cause to change my mind. Richt went on to say (again, in the article linked above) that the main thing Rosier needs to do to keep the starting job is improve his accuracy. I mean, DUH. But, at some point, you are who you are, and I don’t think Rosier has it in him to be the kind of accurate passer of CMR’s imagination.

Now, I don’t want you to think that I don’t appreciate what Rosier did last year. I do. Full stop. The highs were sky-high. Think the throw to Jeff Thomas at UNC after halftime. Or the throw to Dayall Harris up the seam against Virginia. Or the 2 TDs to Braxton Berrios at FSU. Or the game-winning TD to Darrell Langham at FSU. Elite plays, all.

But there were far too many plays with bad decisions or bad execution to be blinded by those plays.

Remember “1st half Malik” vs “2nd half Malik”, where Rosier would be the worst FBS quarterback you’d ever seen for 24 minutes, then come out and look like a Heisman Trophy Candidate after halftime? That is the kind of inconsistency that will, and did, keep Miami from really being a championship contender.

Remember the screen pass interception against Wisconsin? Yeah, the OL got beaten on that play, but Rosier simply CANNOT throw that ball. That kind of play, one of the worst I’ve ever seen, is something that lives inside Rosier. That is why he’s not the answer at QB.

While he can, at times, throw highlight reel passes and can impact games with his legs, Rosier’s inconsistency isn’t something that just magically disappears. Mark Richt famously said ahead of fall practice in 2017 that Malik Rosier “would never play” for him if he was still forcing passes and trying to make plays outside the structure of the offense. If a viable alternative had been present last year, Rosier wouldn’t have seen the field. And now, there are viable alternatives, so he shouldn’t in 2018.

Malik Rosier is only 6’1”. He’s got this long, LONG baseball-throw windup (which leads to batted balls due to closing windows and inaccurate throws because the long motion affects timing and ball placement down the field). He’s very streaky, which can be bad (UNC, Pittsburgh, Clemson, FSU for examples). Rosier being Rosier got him benched during the Pittsburgh game, and should have gotten him benched a couple other times last season as well, if we’re being honest. And, moreover, Rosier will make some of the dumbest decisions you’ll ever see with his passes.

On the positive side (because those exist too, even to my critical eye), Rosier is a good runner. He can be good streaky (when he’s hot, he’s HOT). He has a strong enough arm to push the ball vertically down the field. And, maybe his biggest positive, is his age/experience.

When I tweeted my displeasure with Richt’s comments, several people quickly responded that Richt routinely started less talented but older players ahead of the talented youngsters at QB while at Georgia, Joe Cox starting over Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger being the primary example. And that’s largely true. CMR has started Redshirt Freshmen before, but usually after they sat behind a senior (a la Aaron Murray, for example).

But this isn’t Georgia and I think we’ve already seen the best from Malik Rosier.

All season long, Rosier would make a great play, then a boneheaded play. Be colder than a polar bears toenails for a half, then be NBA Jam-level hot in the next half. He did a good job to hide his flaws, but in the end (the last 3 games were so, SO bad) they were at the forefront and on full display. And, I think that performance is always a snap away. And that’s why I say Malik Rosier isn’t the answer.

Now, N’Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon have been on campus and in the system for a year, so they can challenge for the starting job. Perry, more than Weldon, is a player that has the kind of athletic ability and potential that Miami should have at QB (and all positions, really). Additionally, Jarren Williams enrolled early, and will try to get up to speed with the offense through the spring. He, like Perry, has the kind of talent that Miami needs at QB.

I don’t hate Malik Rosier. I’m just of the clear and firm opinion that he doesn’t have the ability to be accurate on a consistent basis (he only completed 54% of his passes in 2017 for crying out loud) nor does he have the ability to deny his innate desire to make flashy plays — which almost invariably leads to disaster for the offense.

Everybody knew that Rosier was a 1 year stopgap QB at best. That year is over, and Miami needs to move on from Rosier at QB in order to continue the upward trajectory of the program.

In short, starting Rosier is the safe option for Richt due to the fact that he started in 2017. But, simply put, starting Rosier caps the potential for this team, and that’s not something I’m willing to do. With other, more talented, players available at the quarterback position, it’s time to thank Malik Rosier for his performance in 2017 and move forward in a new direction for 2018.

Go Canes