Judging by coach and player talk, not to mention folks who have witnessed practices and the scrimmage, University of Miami redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs appears to be strengthening his case for cementing a role as first-team quarterback heading into fall camp — although redshirt junior Malik Rosier has also improved and is pushing him, with two of three scrimmages remaining.
Coach Mark Richt did not address reporters after practice Thursday, but Richt mentioned the 6-5, 216-pound Shirreffs more than once after the first scrimmage last Saturday, and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown brought him up on Thursday when asked how the quarterbacks are looking — Shirreffs, Rosier and Cade Weldon, in particular.
Rosier has also been mentioned in a positive light by coaches and players.
“I thought it was really good, I would say, with Sherriffs and Malik,” Brown said. “Most, though, Shirreffs, to see him stand in the pocket and take some shots and be able to take charge and be in command and like to see his poise and not being rattled. Obviously, Malik, some really good things with the ball in his hands, as well — to be able to make some good decisions and also move around the pocket well. Being consistent every single day is going to be the key to that spot.”
Said receiver Braxton Berrios of Shirreffs on Thursday: “He has done a lot well. He has done a lot to impress. He has been taking a leadership role. Everyday quarterback things. His timing, his rhythm seems to be better. His drops, his accuracy. He is really molding himself into a really good quarterback.”
Berrios also praised Rosier. “He is taking more of a leadership role, especially when he’s thrown in with the ones. Malik and Evan are really becoming better QBs. They both realize they are not backing up anybody this year, as of now. It’s their job to win. It’s nobody’s job to lose at this time.”
True freshman dual-threat quarterback N’Kosi Perry, highly regarded nationally and by Richt and his son, Jon, who coaches quarterbacks, arrives on campus next month. He will be battling to start, as well, though missing all of spring will obviously have hurt.
Weldon, the true freshman who arrived as an early enrollee to get a jump on the playbook and spring practice, was not mentioned by Brown. He was held out of the first full-contact scrimmage because Richt said he wasn’t ready for the moment. The second scrimmage is Saturday, and Richt hasn’t confirmed whether it will be full-contact for the quarterbacks.
Shirreffs took the first reps at the scrimmage last week, and Jack Allison sprained his shoulder after he was sacked and thrown to the ground. A source familiar with the team told the Miami Herald that Allison sustained a concussion, but a UM spokesman said Allison was not in concussion protocol.
Richt said last week that there were at least four to eight sacks in the first scrimmage, maybe more.
Allison was seen briefly on Greentree Field just before the stretch period, then ran inside when the others began their formal stretching. He was not wearing a sling.
Brown lauded the UM defense, saying it is “really good, and they make us better every single day.”
“But we’ve got to do a better job of not beating ourselves, just lining up and executing,” Brown said. “On offense, if one guy goes the wrong way it kind of gets exposed and is magnified kind of immediately. Sometimes on defense if a guy screws up and the ball doesn’t come to his side, of course he’ll get in trouble from his coaching staff, but it might not be exposed to everybody from a watching standpoint. I think we’ve got to do a better job executing and not let the moment get too big for us. Just relax and play ball.”
When asked about the offensive line in light of the sacks, Brown indicated that the first team (left to right: tackle Kc McDermott, guard Trevor Darling, center Tyler Gauthier, guard Navaughn Donaldson and tackle Tyree St. Louis) was “pretty good.
“Again, it just comes down to one or two guys either using bad technique or maybe going the wrong way, or having some missed assignments. It’s the self-inflicted wounds we’ve got to be able to stop. Obviously depth is an issue behind the first guys, the first five guys. There just needs to be more competition. Thankfully, we’ve got some guys coming in [during] the summertime that will add to it and hopefully push those guys to be better or beat them out.
“To sum it overall: We’ve got a long way to go.”
▪ Rising sophomore All-American receiver Ahmmon Richards on early enrollee DeeJay Dallas: “He’s a natural playmaker. He’s new to the position, receiver at the college level, and he’s adjusting pretty quickly and making plays.”