Mark Richt talks about the Hurricanes' final scrimmage
If Miami Hurricanes fans were hoping to hear that one quarterback charged forward with such authority Saturday in the final spring scrimmage that he is the unquestioned leader, think again.
Perhaps the biggest winner at Boca Raton High School, where the scrimmage/game was played in front of the media and about 500 friends, family members and guests, was high school senior N’Kosi Perry. The nationally heralded dual-threat prep quarterback, set to arrive on campus next month and battle for the starting job, chattered with fans and watched as no one among his future teammates wrested the starting job that NFL-bound Brad Kaaya relinquished.
Heading into the summer as the co-leaders in the quarterback race are redshirt junior Malik Rosier and redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs.
Coach Mark Richt did not allow the quarterbacks to speak to the media after the scrimmage.
“I did not expect to have a clear leader when it was done,’’ Richt said of the quarterbacks, who were not allowed to be tackled. “I think we are right about where we thought we were. And if I had to say how I peck them right now, it would be just like I got them going into this spring game. Kind of a co-No. 1 thing, and the rest of them are kind of like co-No. 3. Just fighting for that No. 3 spot, at the moment.
“But that is what summer is about and this is what bringing in more guys and competing is all about.’’
Rosier was more dominant and game-ready Saturday, with a stronger arm and a couple of stellar long balls, but he also kept hurting himself with mistakes and a less-than-excellent completion percentage. He threw two more interceptions, making it at least six during spring camp, which officially ended with the scrimmage.
Rosier’s numbers: 8 of 18 for 169 yards with touchdowns of 23 yards to tight end Chris Herndon and 72 yards to All-American Ahmmon Richards.
Shirreffs, less experienced but praised for his footwork and intelligence and doing the right things this spring, threw an interception Saturday without a touchdown. He completed 7 of 17 passes for 75 yards. Compared with his competitors, his arm is weaker and less accurate.
Both Rosier and Shirreffs played for the orange, first-team offense against the white, first-team defense, losing 24-16 to those vaunted defensive starters.
Redshirt freshman Jack Allison, who injured his shoulder April 8 in the first scrimmage, played with the white team against the second-team defense. He was joined by fellow quarterbacks Vincent Testaverde and Cade Weldon.
Allison has the most power behind his throws and finished with the best numbers: 11 of 15 for 100 yards and a 6-yard touchdown to Darrell Langham. But he also threw an interception and is not as entrenched as Rosier and Shirreffs for the top spot.
Langham also caught a 4-yard touchdown from freshman Cade Weldon.
“It is just making good decisions, throwing to the right guy for the right reason,’’ Richt said when asked what Allison needs to do to approach the leaders in the race. “Putting them on target, putting it on the money if he has the opportunity to have the protection and field of vision.
“He’s certainly a guy who is going to make his career as a pocket passer. That is what he is — and a very talented pocket passer. So, when he gets opportunities, he has to stand there and rip it and put it on the money.’’
Redshirt junior receiver Darrell Langham had a strong showing, with a scrimmage-high eight catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns. Richards, as usual, stood out with four catches for 112 yards and the 72-yard score.
“Langham is a bully on the field, honestly,” Richards said. “Any 50-50 ball, he is going to come down with it. He made a huge jump [this spring], and he is going to surprise everyone this year.’’
Walk-on running back T.J. Callan led all runners with 79 yards on eight carries. Mark Walton ran 11 times for 65 yards, and Travis Homer added 24 yards on seven carries.
Defensively, rising sophomore Malek Young continued his beast-like tendencies at cornerback, making two interceptions, one against Rosier for a 78-yard touchdown that Richt blamed on play-calling.
“It’s on me,’’ Richt said of the pick-six, “… for just not throwing enough deep balls to scare these guys off of jumping the shorter routes.’’
Other interceptions included one from safety Romeo Finley and another by linebacker C.J. Perry on a tipped ball by Shaq Quarterman.
Second-team safety Amari Carter, an early enrollee, led the defense with 10 tackles, with linebacker Quarterman and safety Sheldrick Redwine amassing seven tackles apiece.
Tackle R.J. McIntish had two sacks, tackle Kendrick Norton had one and Pat Bethel had one.
Richt said coaches will meet individually with players early next week and instruct them how they want to develop physically and what they need to work on during the summer.
“We will be installing the offense and defense all summer long,’’ Richt said. “We want the guys to take some ownership.
“We get a short amount of time with them, two hours a week with them,’’ he said of the quarterbacks, and then they have to take the rest of that time and lead. ... They will be the ones making sure we stay organized and making progress all across the board in the summer.’’
▪ Three/Four-star linebacker/defensive end Gregory Rousseau of Hialeah Champagnat Catholic committed to the Canes after the scrimmage, one day after four-star tight end Will Mallory, out of Jacksonville Providence, committed. Both are from the recruiting class of 2018, ranked No. 1 in the nation.