Everybody watches it under a microscope. Everybody has a favorite player, and an opinion about who should play (or should have played). It’s the most important position on the field, and one where Miami has struggled to find adequate performance in recent years.
That’s right guys: I’m talking about Quarterback.
A redshirt Freshman from Lawrenceville, GA, Williams won the starting QB job coming out of a firece competition in the fall. Williams started the year strong, completing 63.3% of his passes or better in Miami’s first 4 games. Sure, the team only went 2-2 in those 4 games, but Williams had the look of a solid starting QB for the Canes.
Williams started his playing career with a Miami-record for the number of passes thrown without an interception. That, however, came to a crashing halt in Miami’s 5th game of the year, against a reeling Virginia Tech team that was starting to hear chatter of an in-season firing of coach Justin Fuente. Williams threw 3 INTs in his first 7 passes (fun fact: he completed all his passes on this day.....only half of them went to the other team), and after a fumble by a receiver on the first play following his benching, Miami was down 28-0 to VT.
It was then that we met the Jarren that throws INTs in bunches. He would throw 3 interceptions in another loss, this one to FIU in November. Jarren’s 7th interception came in the bowl game against Louisiana Tech.
After sitting behind N’Kosi Perry for a couple of games, Williams returned to the starting lineup at the end of the Pitt game (and threw the game-winning TD to KJ Osborn). Following that return to the QB job, Williams led Miami to a 27-10 victory at Florida State (which should have reasonably been 40+ to 10 but hey, beggars can’t be choosers), and then followed that up by setting the Miami all-time and tying the ACC all-time record for TD passes in a game with 6 against Louisville. Like I said, the lows were low but the highs were stratospheric.
At his best, Williams was an accurate, decisive player who was surgical when throwing RPO slants. At his worst, Williams was a walking turnover who gave the ball away to the other team over and over and over again.
What Williams really was is probably a mixture of the two. He had the majority of the passing yardage, 19 TDs and 7 INTs on the year, so there’s a lot to like. But the offense also struggled under his direction (and yes, the less-than-exciting scheme employed by OC Dan Enos), and that can’t be overlooked.
A talented redshirt sophomore with a huge arm, Perry played the role of backup quarterback for the majority of the 2019 season. He prepared like a starter to be ready when he number was called, and he played well at times in his relief role.
After coming in for Williams against Virginia Tech, Perry threw for 422 yards, 4 TDs, and 1 INT in a 42-35 loss to the Hokies. That performance earned Perry the starting job for the next 3 games, and he led Miami to a win against then-9th ranked Virginia, but a loss to a 3-win Georgia Tech team and a dogfight against Pitt in which he was benched for Williams.
Following his return to the bench at Pitt, Perry only saw action in 3 other games on the year, largely in a mop-up role. He was called in from the bench against Duke and Louisiana Tech in the hopes that he could have the same explosive performance from the Virginia Tech game, but that didn’t happen, and Miami lost those games.
Perry has been around for 3 years now, and like Williams, the variance from the ceiling to the floor of his performance is miles apart. But, he’ll always have the Virginia Tech game as a day of great personal performance, even though the team lost. And the win against Virginia, though a tough, defensive game with limited offensive explosion, was the best win of the year for Miami, and Perry led the team there. So that’s a good memory, too. But, other than that, it wasn’t really a great year for #5.
A former 5-star recruit, Martell transferred to Miami from Ohio State last spring. Though he was 43-0 in HS at Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman, Martell wasn’t able to really make an impact in the QB battle through the spring or fall.
Martell did play some snaps at wildcat QB and slot receiver early in the year, but those quickly dried up. Martell was said to be dealing with personal issues for a time, and stepped away from the team to address them. He returned to the team for the bowl game and was given a series at QB. He went 1/1 for 7 yards (a 3rd down conversion) and after a Miami punt, he went to the bench for the remainder of the game.
Though Martell is a “celebrity-like” figure whose transfer set social media and many national sports websites afire with hot takes and commentary, his impact on the Canes was negligible at best in 2019.
Freshman Peyton Matocha redshirted in 2019. Other players at the position were walk-ons, and they did not see game action.
When you combine the numbers complied by the quarterbacks who had the majority (nearly all) of the playing time in 2019 — Jarren Williams and N’Kosi Perry — the stat line is pretty solid.
255/437 passing, 58.5% completions, 3239 yards, 7.4 yards/attempt, 27 TD, 10 INT, 136.42 rating, 249.2 yards/game.
If those numbers had been accumulated by 1 player, that would have been a borderline top 25 season nationally for that individual. For reference, players with similar numbers in 2019 include Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan, Utah State QB Jordan Love (but he threw 17 INTs), Ohio State QB Justin Fields (but he threw 41 TDs and ran for a bunch, too), and Utah QB Tyler Huntley (a Hallandale, FL native, for what it’s worth).
Furthermore, the teams led by the QBs listed in the paragraph above went 42-12. And, Utah State had HALF of those losses, while the other 3 teams went 35-6.
So, in a vacuum, an aggregate performance similar to what Miami’s QBs achieved in 2019 could, and likely should, have been enough to push toward double digits wins. But, unfortunately for Miami, that was not the case.
2020 Look Ahead
I had one version of this piece written where I talked about the merits of N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams in Rhett Lashlee’s spread offense.
Then D’Eriq King announced his transfer to Miami. And that changes everything.
I’ll keep this short and sweet: D’Eriq King is going to start at QB for Miami in 2020 and his blend of passing acumen, running skill, and big-play ability in both facets of the game figure to be transformational for a Miami offense that has been moribund and just plain bad recently.
That’s my take on the Miami QB’s from 2019. Agree? Disagree? Not you, eddiebangssss. I know you only see good in Jarren Williams so no other commentary could possible be true in your warped, twisted world. Everybody ELSE, hop in the comments and let me know what you think.