University of Miami quarterback Malik Rosier was about to head home to Mobile, Alabama, when the boss suggested he reconsider.
With Hurricane Irma closing in on South Florida, coach Mark Richt told him, “If anything, I’d rather you just be with us.”
“So I wound up going to Orlando with the coaches,” Rosier explained Tuesday after practice at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, where the 14th-ranked Hurricanes (1-0) are preparing for their 3:30 p.m. Saturday game against Toledo (3-0) at Hard Rock Stadium. “They had us kind of away from the storm. They had us in little rooms together and we just talked ball basically the whole time we were there.
“So, it was fun.”
Rosier, a redshirt junior who has only played in one game since being named the 2017 starter after Brad Kaaya departed for the NFL, first thought he was preparing for Arkansas State, then thought he was preparing for Florida State (the former game canceled and the later postponed until Oct. 7 in Tallahassee). After a few days without practicing, he and his teammates zoomed in on the Rockets from their hotel in Orlando. It took them 10 days to actually get back to a full team practice.
“I’ve never gone this long without playing,” Rosier said. “We’re doing a lot of team periods, trying to get that live feeling, that good-on-good feeling back, and just competing.”
In Rosier’s lone game this season, UM’s opening-day 41-13 victory against Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 2, he threw for 217 yards and three touchdowns and hit 17 of his 28 passes. He acknowledged Tuesday that he felt “kind of” rusty, or perhaps more accurately, out of sync, when the entire team got together last Friday in Orlando.
“When we were throwing we kind of had people going jog pace,” Rosier said. “The receivers weren’t running full speed so the first day coming out here I was a little behind. Now I’m getting them on target. They’re running full speed. Their legs feel good. They’re doing a great job of keeping themselves in shape and getting ready to compete.”
Offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, who also addressed the small media contingent that made the trip to Orlando, said Rosier has handled the layoff well.
“Our main job as coaches is to make sure we stay demanding of those guys,” Brown said. “I’m not sure if you’ve been around Malik much, but he has the same personality, pretty much no matter what happens around him, which can be a good thing at times. He doesn’t really panic much, and I think he does a really good job of making the most of the reps that he has.”
Rosier said he hung with quarterbacks coach Jon Richt and worked a lot on fundamentals and concepts, saying that he went about three days without throwing before getting to Orlando. Once he started informally throwing to teammates who had arrived earlier, the rhythm began to return.
The receivers he worked with initially included Mike Harley, Ahmmon Richards, Dionte Mullins and DeeJay Dallas.
“The place we stayed at had a turf field in the middle, so we threw routes,” Rosier said. “It was probably 60 to 70 yards. It was pretty big. There were little kids running around. We had kids jogging around other people but it wasn’t that bad.”
Starting senior wideout Braxton Berrios went back home to Raleigh, North Carolina, before heading to New York, returning to Raleigh, going back to Miami and then being “shipped” back to Orlando. “It’s been quite a trip,” Berrios said.
Berrios, a leader on offense, added that it “obviously took a day or two to get everybody back and their legs under them and really clicking. From the football aspect it’s very frustrating. Never in my life since I started playing football at 7 or 8 have I had an extended period of time in football season where we do nothing.”
Berrios wasn’t alone in his frustration, though he also made clear that staying safe was more important than football.
“It’s like opening a season again,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “It’s three weeks after playing only one game where really we played very poorly on defense. ... We have to be in midseason form Saturday at 3:30 — no excuses.”