Often times, the course one team takes during a season can be traced back to a single play or coaching decision. For the 2018 Miami Hurricanes, one of those decisions took place in mid-October as the Canes were in Charlottesville and trailing Virginia in the first half.
Miami came into this week six matchup with a 5-1 record and ranked 16th, and riding high after a comeback victory the week prior against Florida State, securing the Hurricanes fifth consecutive win. Quarterback N’Kosi Perry was one of the main reasons why UM had been able to come-from-behind against FSU, and why Miami looked like the team they were supposed to be before the season started.
Though against UVA, Perry was struggling, throwing a pair of interceptions in the first half, as 16th ranked Miami quickly found themselves down 10-0 in the second quarter.
Then head coach Mark Richt decided to take out Perry, and replaced him with former-starter Malik Rosier, who himself had been benched for Perry three weeks prior.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL #Canes QB N'Kosi Perry has already thrown 2 INTERCEPTIONS— Florida Gridiron Preps (@FLgridironpreps) October 14, 2018
Malik Rosier is now in the game
Virginia Cavaliers @UVAFootball 10
MIami Hurricanes @CanesFootball 0
2ND QTR, 11:16
ESPN2#FLgridiron #UM #TheU #Canes #UMvsUVA
While Rosier had shown flashes of good play the year prior for Miami, it was obvious now in 2018 that Perry was the right man for the Canes moving forward at quarterback. As we all know, the decision to go with Rosier didn’t result in a win that night for Richt’s team, as UVA ultimately upset the Hurricanes 16-13, which was the first of a four-game losing-streak.
Of all the decisions that were made for the Canes in 2018, this one sticks out to a lot of people, including myself as perhaps the most controversial. A season that ended up a disaster at 7-6, might’ve been saved if Richt had stayed with Perry.
Mark Richt announces Malik Rosier will start against BC. I just don’t get it. That game isn’t for another 9 days. What film from UVA game showed him Rosier is better choice over Perry to start? Though he does say N’Kosi will play. So the Canes are in a co-QB situation.— Will Manso (@WillManso) October 17, 2018
Now that’s a bold statement, to say that the Hurricanes season would’ve been drastically different if Rosier hadn’t of come back in. But, you have to look at what Perry had been able to do with the time he had been in at QB prior to that, not just the first quarter against Virginia.
In the three weeks before the Cavaliers matchup, Perry and the offense had been averaging 28.3 points per game when he was in the game. It was extremely clear that Miami’s offense was much smoother with Perry in as opposed to Rosier.
Also, if Richt was to learn one thing from the week prior against Florida State, is that Perry sometimes didn’t get going until the second half and needed time to settle in. In the first half versus the Seminoles, Perry was just 7-for-18 through the air and the Canes offense was dominated. However, while orchestrating a 20-point comeback, Perry threw for three touchdowns and the offense moved the ball much better.
While Perry and the offense wasn’t doing much early against Virginia, pulling him barely into the second quarter was a little premature, especially when you consider how much Richt had put up with with Rosier. Besides, if you stuck with Perry when you were down 27-7, could you not when the defect was only 10 points at Virginia?
Very frustrating to see the Hurricanes hand te game to Virginia. Horrible play calling and taking out your young QB after a rough start not the way to get him better in those situations. I would of rather seen N’Kosi Perry improve thoroughout the game than Rosier sailing throws.— RED (@REDAngryCuban) October 14, 2018
Looking past the Virginia matchup, Rosier started the next game, which was a loss to Boston College, and then the week after that in another loss to Duke. In a matter of three weeks, the 5-1 Canes, who seemed like the clear favorites to repeat as Coastal Division champs at the time, now were out of that race and in the middle of a nightmare of a season.
What would Miami’s record be if Mark Richt wouldn’t have pulled N’Kosi Perry early in the Virginia game?— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) November 17, 2018
So the question remains; what would’ve happened if Perry wasn’t pulled against Virginia? Though it may seem silly to debate such a decision made from a game four months ago, but we’re Canes fans, that’s what we do. In my honest, unbiased opinion, I think because our defense had been playing so good that entire game, Perry would’ve ultimately found his groove as would the offense, and the Hurricanes would’v found a way to win the game.
Moving on from that, with Perry’s increasing confidence as the starter following a win against Virginia, the entire season might’ve looked different. It’s hard to really make assumptions, but Miami probably would’ve won at Georgia Tech or Boston College, beat Duke and Virginia Tech, and captured the division again.
Basically, it's this: If Mark Richt goes with N'Kosi Perry from here, Miami is going to lose a game it probably shouldn't. But you know what Malik Rosier's limitations are, while you can plainly see Perry's upside. The growing pains are worth the long-term reward.— David Kenyon (@Kenyon19_BR) September 22, 2018
Then again, if Richt had stayed with Perry and Miami had gone on to finish the season admirably and win the Coastal, perhaps Mark Richt is still our coach....