Malik Rosier stepped into some tough shoes on Saturday night at Wallace Wade Stadium.
But although he had a few fits and starts, University of Miami fans should feel like they have a solid quarterback for the near future.
Rosier started against Duke in place of sophomore Brad Kaaya, who sustained a concussion in the second quarter of last week’s 58-0 blowout loss to Clemson. Kaaya had completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 1,846 yards and 10 touchdowns with just two interceptions before the injury.
The redshirt freshman Rosier — who plays the outfield for UM’s baseball team — was in over his head against the Tigers and completed just 7 of 22 passes for 42 yards with two interceptions in that nightmarish contest.
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Waiting in the wings was sophomore Texas Tech transfer Vincent Testaverde, whose father won the Heisman Trophy as a Hurricane in 1986 and is in the College Football Hall of Fame. But Testaverde spent the night as a spectator on Saturday as the Hurricanes pulled off a miraculous 30-27 comeback win over Duke.
“There are plays I’ve got to get better at, but at the end of the day my job is to get a ‘W’ and that’s what we did,” Rosier said. “The defense stepped up and our preparation was a lot better than last week.”
Rosier came through with a very respectable first half. He completed 13 of 17 passes for 157 yards and a score without being intercepted or sacked. He ended up 20 of 29 for 272 yards and two touchdown passes.
“I figured coming into this week that ‘I’m the guy now,’ ” he said. “And everybody supported me and helped me out. They did a great job preparing for themselves, they helped me along and got me through it.
“You can’t let the past kill you. And we have to leave this game behind as soon as we touch back.”
Things went south in the third quarter, as the Hurricanes’ 14-3 halftime advantage was cut to a mere two points.
Part of what went wrong was a couple of mistakes by Rosier, who threw an interception and was called for intentional grounding.
But he came back early in the fourth to hit Stacy Coley on a 19-yard scoring pass with 11:02 left to make it a two-possession game.
Rosier had missed the Hurricanes’ second snap of the game following a hard tackle, after completing a 14-yard pass to Herb Waters to the Hurricanes’ 20. Joe Yearby ran Wildcat on the sole snap.
But Rosier was solid in the scoreless first quarter, completing his first six passes and going 6 for 8 for 28 yards in the period.
And he got the Hurricanes on the board first with 11:57 left in the half on a perfect 33-yard pass to Waters at the goal line.
Rosier also completed two passes for 30 yards to Coley on the Hurricanes’ scoring drive, which ended with Sunny Odogwu’s recovery of a Walter Tucker fumble into the end zone at the 8:18 mark.
Odogwu, a 6-8, 318-pound redshirt sophomore who is second on the depth chart at right tackle, is a graduate of Hargrave Military Academy, which is 75 miles from Durham across the state line in Chatham, Virginia.