Entering fall camp, fans gushed so much about heralded University of Miami newcomer N’Kosi Perry, that redshirt junior Malik Rosier was barely an afterthought in discussing who would replace Hurricanes all-time passer Brad Kaaya.
Then Rosier won the job, and whispers of, “Rosier will start until after FSU, when Perry will ease his way in and take over,’’ abounded.
Turns out after three games, with No. 13 Miami (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) heading into FSU (1-2, 1-1) for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Tallahassee’s Doak Campbell Stadium, Rosier has been among the most efficient, impressive quarterbacks in the nation.
For the most part, his throws, except for two overthrown interceptions, have had great touch, timing, velocity and distance. He is agile, physical and can run. He stays calm and poised regardless of what transpires. And, according to UM coach Mark Richt, he makes the right reads and progressions.
Few are mentioning Perry these days.
“He’s done a great job – kept great composure, very accurate, athletic, gets the ball out of his hand,’’ FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said of Rosier, who leads the ACC and entering the week was 12th in the nation in passing efficiency, completing 59 of 90 passes (65.6 percent) for 820 yards (273 yards a game) and eight touchdowns, with the two picks – and another two touchdowns rushing. “…Tremendous.’’
Rosier, the first UM quarterback to start his career 4-0 since Brock Berlin in 2003, hit his first eight passes last week at previously undefeated Duke for 155 yards and a gorgeous strike over the head of a Duke safety and into the arms of a racing Braxton Berrios in the end zone.
The last UM quarterback to lead the Hurricanes to victory over FSU: Jacory Harris, who threw for 386 yards, with two picks, as a true sophomore in the 38-34 season-opener of 2009 at Doak Campbell.
“As of now, they’re probably one of the fastest and most physical teams we’ve played so far,’’ Rosier said of the Seminoles, ranked 33rd nationally in total defense (333.7 yards a game allowed) and 51st in scoring defense (23.3 points allowed). “They fly around the ball. Every time you see a pass there’s someone in the way or deflecting the ball.
“They’re going to give us troubles and I just feel like we gotta be perfect, we gotta execute. Otherwise, they will beat us and we know that.”
If Rosier has been an outstanding surprise, include senior receiver/punt returner Berrios right there with him. Berrios finished the entire 2016 season with 12 catches, 178 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games. He now leads all Canes receivers with 10 catches for 192 yards and three touchdowns.
And how about this? Berrios has become the first Hurricane since Miami great Andre Johnson in 2002 to record a touchdown reception in each of the first three games of the season.
“He does his job,’’ Rosier said. “You tell him to go 12 yards, he goes 12. You tell him to stem the guy, he does it…He knows pretty much when he’s going to get the ball and comes open. He’s quick, he’s fast, he’s shifty. He’s a guy that I rely on a lot.”
When reminded of his nifty connection with Rosier, Berrios pointed to having known the quarterback for “almost four’’ years and having previously been roommates with him. “So, we’ve always been close,’’ he said. “We’ve kind of grown together.
“He’s making good reads, making great throws and tucking and running the ball when he can. That’s all you want from a quarterback, to be multidimensional and smart with the football…He’s really had a tremendous season so far, and we all expect him to keep going.’’
The Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles, in conjunction with the Atlantic Coast Conference, decided Thursday afternoon that they would keep their huge rivalry game exactly the way it was supposed to be before the threat of a tropical storm/hurricane – at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN) at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.
Had the time or location been changed, it would have been the fourth time this season that a UM football game had been altered from its original scheduling.
Putting the game in question was a tropical depression that began to threaten the Florida panhandle on Wednesday, turned into Tropical Storm Nate and then was forecast to possibly become Hurricane Nate, which originally appeared to be heading right smack at Tallahassee, site of the big game. But by Thursday morning, projections had the storm shifting west of the Florida panhandle and Tallahassee.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN