University of Miami

UM quarterback race still open, but Richt leaning toward veterans

UM quarterbacks address the media

University of Miami freshman QB N'Kosi Perry and junior QB Malik Rosier talk to the media on Aug. 13, 2017.
Up Next
University of Miami freshman QB N'Kosi Perry and junior QB Malik Rosier talk to the media on Aug. 13, 2017.

N’Kosi Perry, definitely on the quiet side, met the media for the first time on Monday.

He’s the Miami Hurricanes quarterback who fans have been almost breathlessly waiting to hear from — and more importantly, get a glimpse of — while they await coach Mark Richt’s decision on who will replace UM record-holder Brad Kaaya.

But if the second scrimmage Saturday is anything like the first one this past Saturday, it will be familiar faces Malik Rosier and Evan Shirreffs getting most of the attention.

Just minutes before Perry and the rest of the Hurricanes were let loose for reporters to interview on media day, Richt said in a separate news conference that if he had to make the decision now, “it would be an older guy — one of the two veterans.’’

But he’s not making the decision now, Richt stressed, and he has convinced himself that the best and fairest way to approach the situation is by being patient.

After disappointing performances by Perry (6 of 15 for 68 yards and an interception) and fellow true freshman quarterback Cade Weldon (2 of 10 for 40 yards and an interception) during Saturday’s first of three fall scrimmages before the Sept. 2 opener against Bethune-Cookman, Richt wrestled with the best way to go.

On one hand, Richt said, “I have to start getting my best with the best and getting continuity and all that.’’

On the other, he said, “I have to be patient. After going to church and spending some time just sleeping and praying — I wasn’t sleeping in church, but getting a good night’s rest — by the time church was over, I felt like I had to stay patient and let this run its course, at least through the next scrimmage, to start saying, ‘This is what I’m going to do.’ ’’

Richt looked at the tape and said that Rosier (8 of 14 for 181 yards and three touchdowns) and Shirreffs (10 of 14 for 132 yards and a touchdown) “really did a nice job with their decision-making. Because they knew where to go with the ball [and] when to go with it, they were more accurate.

“The younger guys were a little more confused at times.’’

Regardless, Richt said his road map toward finding a starting quarterback is “to compete with as many guys as you think have a realistic shot at winning the job. In this case, it’s four guys. … I want to be fair to the young guys that still have that little learning curve. We haven’t even finished installation.’’

Shirreffs has thrown as many passes in college as Perry: none. His lone playing time was some handoffs to running backs during one series in last year’s opener against FAMU.

Rosier has played in 10 games with one start — the miracle win at Duke in 2015, when he completed 20 of 29 passes for 272 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

“The big thing for me is when I go home [to study] the new installs, I go through the progressions in my head and the reads to make sure that on the field it’s more muscle memory than it is me trying to react,’’ Rosier said.

Quarterback coach Jon Richt indicated Monday that Rosier has become more of a leader and is doing what is asked of him, but he needs to do it consistently.

“Malik is a guy who has got to kind of get out of his own head and just do what we ask him to do over and over again,’’ Jon Richt said. “When he does that he’s really, really, really good.”

Shirreffs, Jon Richt said, has “more than adequate’’ arm strength if everything is going right. “But when he gets off balance and all this kind of stuff, he can’t recover as much as some of these other guys who have stronger arms. … When he’s clicking, he’s clicking. But when he’s having to move around it’s a little tougher.’’

As for the freshmen, the 6-3, 212-pound Weldon, out of Tampa’s Thomas Jefferson High, admitted that not much went right Saturday.

“I had a terrible day,’’ he said. “Too many incompletions, missing easy throws that I usually make. I wasn’t too happy with myself. Every day out there is almost like a scrimmage with those guys. It’s pretty intense.’’

Perry, considered one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation out of Ocala Vanguard, didn’t arrive in Miami until late May.

“I don’t really try to think about the pressure,’’ he said, noting that Rosier and Shirreffs have been helping him a great deal, “The best part is how they accept me as a freshman. I know at other schools some freshmen get picked on or bullied. This school is more of a family, so they treat everybody as equal.’’

Does he expect to be the starter in Game 1?

“I don’t know,’’ he said. “We’ve got to see what happens. I really don’t try to think about that. I just try to learn the offense with the help of the older guys. They make it a lot easier for me.’’

Defensive end Scott Patchan, who had a good scrimmage after working his way back from multiple knee injuries, said all four quarterbacks can get the job done. He called Shirreffs “very consistent,’’ Perry “quick on his feet’’ with a strong arm, and Weldon an adept runner as well.

“And Malik has calmed down,’’ Patchan said. “He’s finding the ball and knowing where it needs to go safely.

“Whoever gets the job is going to be getting the keys to a Corvette, so they have to be careful with it. We have so many skill guys and good players that I’m excited to see what they can all do together.”

Related stories from Miami Herald