The foggy picture of who will start at quarterback on Saturday for the University of Miami against Virginia is gaining clarity but is far from certain.
The bad news is sophomore starter Brad Kaaya’s status remains in question as he practiced for a second consecutive day Wednesday and continues go through concussion protocol after staying home for the Hurricanes’ thrilling 30-27 win at Duke last Saturday.
The good news: UM probably won’t have to look beyond backup Malik Rosier for a starter, which could have become a stark reality with both listed as questionable.
Rosier filled in admirably for Kaaya in Durham but was held back one day for a return flight to Miami while recovering from an undisclosed injury.
Hurricanes coaches are more confident about his chances of playing in the homecoming meeting with the Cavaliers than they are with Kaaya.
“With Malik, we’re more confident that he’ll be ready to go,” said interim coach Larry Scott, who in his coaching debut Saturday did something Al Golden was never able to do with Miami — beat a ranked team on the road.
Said offensive coordinator James Coley: “Malik’s fine. Brad, we have to see how [Wednesday’s] practice went.”
With the team’s strict concussion protocol, Kaaya will continue to be monitored by doctors, who met with him after Wednesday’s practice, before he can be cleared to play.
UM releases a weekly pregame injury report on Thursday.
“He got a good bit done [Wednesday]. He did a little bit more than he did [Tuesday],” Scott said. “It’s just a continued evaluation of where he is. We’re going to err on the side of caution when it comes to that.”
Rosier impressed in his first start against Duke, completing 20 of 29 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
He left the game for one play after taking a shot in the first quarter, but Coley said that Rosier took plenty of punishment throughout.
“He got knocked out for a play, but he got hit several times in the game,” Coley said. “That’s part of football. You’re back there with the football and you’re ‘it’ — like playing tag.”
After staying behind another day with team doctor Lee Kaplan and head athletic trainer Vinny Scavo, Rosier has made great strides in preparing for Virginia.
“I feel like I’ve made a lot [of progress],” Rosier said. “I’m preparing to start. I’ve gotten some [first-team] reps. We don’t know what’s going on, but I’m preparing to start this week against Virginia.”
Rosier says his adrenaline on Saturday allowed him to finish the game, but he started “feeling bad” when the team got back to the bus afterward.
Rosier’s adrenaline didn’t only save UM’s season for the time being — a loss at Duke would’ve surely been the end of any Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division hopes with three losses in the conference. It also saved sophomore walk-on quarterback Vincent Testaverde’s redshirt. On Tuesday, Scott said Testaverde, the Texas Tech transfer and son of the former Heisman Trophy winner at UM, is the Canes’ third-string quarterback.
Because Rosier was only unavailable for one play against Duke, the coaches opted to run a Wildcat play with running back Joseph Yearby as quarterback.
“Didn’t want to burn his redshirt if we didn’t have to,” Coley said. “I thought the smartest thing to do for Vincent’s future was, if he didn’t have to come in and play the game, don’t burn it on one play.”
Testaverde won the battle last week with freshman Evan Shirreffs for No. 2 duties behind Rosier, but Coley was confident in how both threw the ball in the week of practice had they needed to enter the game.
Coley’s game plan of settling Rosier into the Duke matchup with short, quick routes early before stretching the field later proved effective as he improved immensely from the 7-of-22 outing for 42 yards and two interceptions in his emergency backup role against Clemson.
“When I came into Clemson, it was kind of a shock for everybody — not just for me, but for everybody,” Rosier said. “Having a week together with the team to get chemistry together, it helped us out that week.”