Sports

Miami’s QB battle could be over as defense delivers ‘massive butt-whooping’ in scrimmage

UM Coach Manny Diaz Comments on Starting Quarterback Decision

Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz comments on who the starting quarterback might be after practice at the University of Miami Greentree Practice Field in Coral Gables on Friday, August 9, 2019.
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Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz comments on who the starting quarterback might be after practice at the University of Miami Greentree Practice Field in Coral Gables on Friday, August 9, 2019.

The Miami Hurricanes’ second fall camp football scrimmage ended late Saturday night, and though coach Manny Diaz’s trademark defense apparently did enough damage to render the offense helpless in the first half, Diaz did not seem pleased.

That’s because Diaz, obviously, now has to worry about both sides of the ball.

Diaz and his offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dan Enos now (or soon) have the unenviable task of deciding which quarterback will start Aug. 24 in the season opener against the Florida Gators.

Diaz, who hasn’t specified when he plans to tell the players, and if he intends to make the decision public, has said for weeks that he wanted to make a decision after the second scrimmage to give the starter more snaps with the first-team offense. But Diaz lamented in a post-scrimmage email distributed by UM, that the scrimmage “was uneven, to be honest,” and that the defense thoroughly dominated in the opening half.

Whether or not coaches wait even longer to identify a starting quarterback has yet to be seen.

“The first half, it was a massive butt-whooping,’’ Diaz said. “The defense just got after offense. Very disappointing in the way that you started to see the ‘far away’ look in some guys on the offense, things we’re trying to eradicate from our program.”

The quarterbacks competing for the starting spot are redshirt sophomore Tate Martell, who transferred to Miami from Ohio State in January; redshirt sophomore N’Kosi Perry, who started six of his 11 games last season and had an up-and-down year; and redshirt freshman Jarren Williams, who played in one game last season but, like the other two contenders, was a high-profile, highly recruited quarterback in high school.

“I look forward to watching the film,’’ Diaz said in his statement regarding the quarterbacks on Saturday. “Obviously, in the first half, nobody played well on offense. It was hard for those guys to function, and part of that was their doing as well. But again, I saw some guys lead some good touchdown drives in the second half. I think Jarren hit one to Will Mallory, I know we had one to K.J. Osborn at the end. I still like the running of DeeJay Dallas. I think he has been consistent throughout camp. That has been encouraging.”

Here is more of what Diaz said about Saturday night’s closed scrimmage:

On the scrimmage as a whole, and how the offense got beat badly in the first half and then made a comeback: “We had a feeling the disease wasn’t fully cured. That being said, second half, the offense rallied. Where in the past, when things have not gone well, there would sort of be a tanking for the game. I saw a couple productive touchdown drives in the second half and guys showing some competitive fight and spirit, which is really what this camp and this offseason has all been about. That’ll be encouraging. But the self-inflicted wounds in the first half, not to mention, sometime you just take a beating – will be disappointing. It’s a good reality check. Conversely, defensively, to play as well as they played in the first half, and to sort of lose their edge in the second half, was disappointing. It’s like what we figured. We have not solved all of our issues. We are solving them. But to think we just snap our fingers and have it all fixed would be fooling ourselves.”

On who impressed defensively: “Gurvan [Hall, Jr.] now has three [interceptions] in two weeks in scrimmage situations, which is great for him. Greg Rousseau, I thought, showed up tonight, which we’ve been waiting for in camp. I think he’s feeling a little better about his body. That was encouraging. Of course, [Michael] Pinckney and [Shaquille] Quarterman and those guys, I think Trevon Hill had a multiple-sack night. You’re starting to see some of the progress from those guys. The consistency on the back end. Two scrimmage situations, from a tackling standpoint, pretty good. Not giving up the explosive plays on just shoddy tackling down the field, which has been a hallmark of our defense. The disruption up front and the lack of giving up big plays has always been a big part of our formula.”

On what he hopes to see between now and the season opener: “It’s simple — it’s competitive fight. That’s the whole deal. It’s going to be a highly emotional night. Both teams will be supremely motivated to play against each other. Who can keep their competitive will through adversity? Because it’s going to be a night with all kinds of adversity, for both sides. And that’s why it’s about finding the right mix of guys that don’t blink in that setting. That’s what we have to go back and study this film and find out who are the guys that will fight their way off the ropes. I think both teams are going to land some blows. When you get put on the ropes, you have to fight your way out of it.”

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