University of Miami football coach Mark Richt did not “chicken out,’’ like he thought he might Saturday for the Hurricanes’ first spring scrimmage of 2017.
Maybe he should have.
Richt allowed his ferocious defense to tackle the quarterbacks battling to replace NFL-bound Brad Kaaya. In the process, according to a source who attended the scrimmage, right-handed redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Allison sustained a first-degree separation — also known as a minor AC sprain — to his throwing shoulder when he was hit by a defensive end during the second half.
Allison, 6-5 and 200 pounds, was scrambling to the right side when the lineman came from behind him, sacked him and landed on the shoulder. Allison will be tended to by the medical staff, but surgery is not expected to be needed.
Richt, who became the first UM coach in many years, maybe ever, to allow quarterbacks to be tackled in an early spring scrimmage, did not mention the Allison injury. From the coach’s description of the overall scrimmage, however, it didn’t sound pretty.
Richt told reporters that his quarterbacks were sacked “at least four to eight’’ times – “There might have been more.’’
And that does not include true freshman early-enrollee quarterback Cade Weldon, who did not compete in the scrimmage, the coach said.
“I didn’t think Cade was ready so I didn’t give him any reps today,’’ Richt said. “But next scrimmage he’ll get reps. I didn’t think he was ready for the moment yet.”
Richt used the word “ugly’’ in describing the offense in the first half of the scrimmage. He said redshirt junior Malik Rosier, the only quarterback with experience and a full game played in late 2015, as well as redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs, played the best.
A source said Shirreffs was first in the rotation and looked solid, as did Rosier, who went next. Redshirt junior Vincent Testaverde, who “had a couple good moments as well,’’ Richt said, was third in the rotation.
Richt said “Evan did some nice things,’’ especially in third-down situations. He said “once or twice’’ Shirreffs “had guys bearing down on him and he just stayed in there, threw it, completed a ball or two and still got hit, which was a good sign…He did a good job of staying in there and ripping the ball a few times.’’
The coach said Rosier “was the one that spun out of a tackle’’ when it looked as if the defender “had him.’’
“I know there was a cornerback blitz one time that [sophomore corner Malek Young] missed and he had him, no one blocking him, but Malik spun out of it and ended up not completing the ball. Just proof that [Rosier] can move and create and make plays.’’
He mentioned only “a couple” of touchdown passes, and that Rosier had one.
Richt also praised true freshman early-enrollee Navaughn Donaldson, a 6-6, 350-pound All-American offensive lineman out of Miami Central, saying he played with the first team and is getting better and better.
The scrimmage was closed to the media and general public but open to more than 200 relatives and friends of the players, as well as local high school players, coaches and recruits.
The coach said he wouldn’t reveal statistics.
Richt said “so many’’ defensive players did well. “So many.’’
“If you went only second half it would be debatable who won,’’ he said. “First half there was no question whatsoever. It was a combination of self-inflicted wounds on offense and just defense smothering them up once they started smelling the blood.
“If offense dominates in the spring I can promise you it’s usually a long season. Some of the greatest offenses I’ve been around got their butts kicked by the defense – Florida State and Georgia.”
Richt said the scrimmage wasn’t a game, but that there were “basically two halves’’ with a break in between.
The first drives, he said, started at the 25-yard line, with 75 yards to go for a touchdown. But the quarterbacks weren’t accurate enough to help the offense, he said.
“Quite frankly there were a couple times where if we just would have put the ball on a guy we might have had a big play and got excitement for the offense but we missed some guys that I thought were open – barely, but still missed them.
“Then, when there was protection, when there wasn’t protection, obviously, a couple of sacks and throwing the ball out of bounds. Then it became bad snaps, and it became fumbles and then it became picks.
“The first half got ugly, to be honest with you.’’
He said the second half the drives were started on the 40-yard line, with 40 to go for a touchdown. Then the Canes did third-down situations and red-zone drives.
“The second half was much more fun for the offense,’’ Richt said. “We scored a couple of touchdowns, kicked a field goal, made some plays. Got encouraged. Last play of the game threw a little touchdown, so the offense felt good on the last play.”