Evan Shirreffs said Thursday that he and Malik Rosier have been splitting first-team quarterback repetitions evenly, and even though they have for now emerged from a group of contenders for the starting job, offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said there is “definitely” no leader entering Saturday’s final spring scrimmage.
“Those guys at times have separated themselves,” Brown said of Rosier and Shirreffs.
Coach Mark Richt has said the job will remain unresolved well into August and he’s eager to see the one quarterback not yet on campus, N’Kosi Perry, who arrives in May.
But this much is also clear: The overall quarterback play this spring hasn’t been nearly consistent enough.
“There have been moments where you see Evan throw an amazing ball, you see Jack [Allison] throw an amazing ball, you see Cade [Weldon] do phenomenal, and there are times where we've completely busted,” Rosier said Thursday.
“We've got to be more consistent and show every play we're going to do the right thing every time no matter what coverage or what defense they show us. That's what [Richt] wants to see and that's one thing all of us have to improve on. There are times everyone looks like the starting quarterback, and times they shouldn't even be here at Miami.”
Brown said Rosier and Shirreffs have taken most of the first team reps “partially because of them being able to retain information and knowing what to do and taking command.”
But Brown cautioned: “There's still going to be a long process. Everybody gets antsy and wants an answer immediately. Wish I could give you one. It will be a process that plays out until the fall.”
Why has Shirreffs, an unheralded two-star sophomore, made a jump this spring?
“His demeanor, way he handles stuff on the field,” Brown said. “From the first scrimmage, how he takes some shots and gets back up and have a smile on his face and enjoy the game and not be frightened by the moment. You want a guy who can command the huddle and the rest of the guys in the huddle can look at him and know he's not going to panic, I'm not going to panic… We're all in this together. Seeing that from him and being a consistent deal has helped him out.”
UM also likes Shirreff’s size (6-5) and intelligence.
According to Rivals.com, Shirreffs’ only other offers, besides UM, coming out of Jefferson (Ga.) High in 2015 were from Columbia and Virginia Military.
Has he felt overlooked competing against Allison and Weldon (who were higher-ranked prospects) and Rosier (the only one of the contenders who has taken a snap in a game for UM)?
“No,” he said. “I don't really care about all the rankings. I wasn't a ranked kid out of high school, didn't go to many camps, wasn't highly recruited. I'm the type of kid who comes in and works his tail off every day. Eventually, coaches are going to notice that.
“The main thing has been to show I'm consistent. Everyone is going to have their bad play here and there but you have to minimize those and come back the next play and make up for it. Honestly, I've improved every facet of my game.”
Though Rosier is considered the more dangerous runner, Shirreffs said he’s comfortable doing that if needed: “We've got some read option some stuff in now. If someone comes free, I’ve got to scramble and get a couple yards and get that first down, I'm going to go for it.”
Does Shirreffs believe he’s ready to be a starter?
“Yeah, if given that opportunity, I can take it and run with it and lead this team,” he said. “I feel Malik can too. Whoever coaches feel is more ready for that.”
As for Rosier, he said he has thrown four interceptions this spring but generally believes he has “done pretty good. For me, the big one was having a shorter compact release. That's one thing I've been focusing on. Another thing is making sure the guys know their routes. Sometimes you will see confusion so you have to help them out. A big thing for me is just leading, showing guys that when I'm out there, I am the guy, I can make every play, make every throw, make every read.”
How important is it to be starter?
“For me, it means everything,” Rosier said. “I sat behind Brad [Kaaya] for three years so I kind of waited my turn and now I get my chance to lead.”
As for the three other quarterbacks who have competed this spring, Weldon is still learning and hasn’t made a case to start as a freshman; Vinnie Testaverde Jr. remains the ultimate longshot, and Allison, who sustained a sprained throwing shoulder in the second scrimmage, was able to participate to an extent in Thursday’s practice and has had some good moments this spring.
Brown said he could not say whether Allison would participate in Saturday’s scrimmage at Boca Raton High, which will serve as a pseudo spring game but is open only to select donors, reporters and former players.
I will have a lot more UM news shortly. Please check back for that. And here is that post, with news on Michael Irvin, Sheldrick Redwine, Gerald Willis and a lot more.