There were 9 minutes and 58 seconds left in the game Friday when Miami quarterback Malik Rosier, 11-0 in his previous starts, got a rude awakening on the Heinz Field sideline.
With the Hurricanes down 17-7 and Rosier off-target much of the game, UM coach Mark Richt replaced him with redshirt sophomore backup Evan Shirreffs.
Shirreffs had at least one ball batted down and was sacked — the Canes missed a blitz coverage — while an emotionally tattered Rosier stood on the sideline hoping he could return and lead UM back like he had done in the clutch several times this season.
He did return on UM’s next drive, but not before Pittsburgh marched 90 yards to go up 24-7 and put the game out of reach for UM with 2:54 left.
“A lot of it started with me,” Rosier said. “I missed multiple receivers, and that’s something I have to fix. It can’t happen next week. The big thing is just to learn from this experience.”
Rosier said there were “ multiple times” that UM has played “lackadaisical in the first half and in the second half we come out and explode.
“It just didn’t happen this week. That’s something I’ve gotta fix. I’ve gotta motivate those guys in the first half so the second half doesn’t have to be some kind of miracle second half.”
He said Richt approached him before the second half and said, “‘Are you ready to lead?’ And I was like, ‘Yes, sir.’ I knew if I kept making mistakes to assume that I was going to get pulled.”
Rosier, who finished 15 of 34 for 187 yards and two touchdowns, said he asked Richt whether he could go back in. “These are my guys.” He said Richt told him, ‘No, you have to wait until next week,’ but Richt obviously changed his mind.
Richt said he made the change because Rosier “was struggling in his target” and he thought Shirreffs was “a great competitor” and “teammate” and could give UM “a spark.”
The coach made it a point to tweet after the game, “For the record Malik Rosier is our starting quarterback. U Family!”
“I had my head down and I was really depressed,” said Rosier, who threw a 39-yard touchdown pass with 2:16 left, “because I feel like I let this team down because there were so many opportunities I should have taken advantage of.”
Among the things that Rosier said quarterbacks coach Jon Richt told him: “Just remember this feeling and get ready for next week.”
▪ With 51 seconds left in the third quarter, tight end Christopher Herndon appeared to hurt his right leg/knee on a 16-yard catch.