A day after University of Miami coach Al Golden named true freshman Brad Kaaya the starting quarterback for the Louisville opener, the two fifth-year seniors who didn’t get the job faced the media.
Jake Heaps lost the position battle through direct competition.
Ryan Williams, previously the projected starter, lost it through a torn ACL sustained in April.
Both will travel to Louisville for the 8 p.m. opener on Monday, though Williams has still not been cleared to compete as he continues to heal from reconstructive surgery April 9 to repair his right knee.
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“It’s disappointing,” said Heaps, who transferred to UM from Kansas after spending his first two seasons at BYU. “It’s not the outcome I wanted. But at the end of the day, the coaches, that’s what they felt is best. You have to live with that. At that point your role changes, and you have to accept your role and just support Brad and be ready when your time comes.”
An elbow injury, apparently during some type of collision or similar mishap during practice, kept Heaps from competing in UM’s second fall-camp scrimmage a week ago Monday. The scrimmage was sandwiched between two off days, so Heaps returned to practice after the three-day break.
“It’s good, it’s good,” Heaps said of his elbow on Monday. “I won’t really get into the details of it. It was something that I needed to have some time to recover from. Luckily everything is OK and that’ll be ready to go.”
Williams was asked whether he thought Heaps’ elbow injury hurt his chances.
“It was an unfortunate accident in practice,” Williams said. “I didn’t think it really hurt his chances. Brad had a great camp, it wasn’t like he was given it for no reason.”
Williams said he thought both contenders excelled in the competition.
“They both came in with a short amount of time to learn the offense. … They both looked comfortable out there. They had to pick one, so, I mean, you couldn’t go wrong with either one.”
That it isn’t Williams has to be discouraging for the 6-6, 225-pounder from Pembroke Pines and Miramar High. After transferring from Memphis and sitting out, per NCAA rules, in 2011, Williams waited behind quarterback Stephen Morris for two more seasons.
At Louisville Williams plans to stay near Kaaya and help the freshman when he’s not on the field.
“I did a lot of that last year,” said Williams, who will likely be joined on Monday by true freshman quarterback Malik Rosier. “Me and Stephen would talk about everything — every drive, every play, really.”
He said he hopes doctors will soon let him participate with the team more actively in practice but added that he has not been given any specific timetable for his return. He said he’s done “some seven-on-seven stuff” in practice and “a little bit of team stuff” one day.
“I tried my hardest to be ready for this game,” Williams said. “I guess it wasn’t physically possible. I’m going to take it week by week and when I can come back, I will.”
Meanwhile, Golden was asked how to keep Kaaya from letting the hype from the outside affect him.
“You just keep ignoring, keep blocking it all out,” the coach said. “He’s mature in that sense. He’ll do it. He’s playing to a standard right now and not really worried about anybody’s expectations. He competed every day for the starting job. He won it outright. That’s all he’s worried about.”
Center Shane McDermott said the offensive line will take care of its new quarterback, but that he is already doing well.
“[Monday] he was super confident and did everything like that,” the center said, snapping his finger for effect. “He just was boom, boom, boom. … We focus a lot of our plays on third down, and he did a great job. We have plenty of leadership around him. He’s fine.”