No surprises here, at least not Tuesday, after University of Miami spring football practice No. 7.
Incumbent starter Malik Rosier is still the leader in the quarterback competition, coach Mark Richt confirmed just four days before the first spring scrimmage.
“Malik still is the one that really gets it the most,’’ Richt said “N’Kosi [Perry] and [Cade] Weldon have come a long way. You don’t have to babysit them, as far as so they can function. Jarren [Williams] is brand new, so [quarterbacks coach] Jon [Richt] is really keeping a close eye on him — every time [Jarren] gets team work, in case he gets lost on what to do, he can be right there to tell him. We haven’t had to do that much. He has been a very good student of the game. Being in there in the 11-on-11s hasn’t been overwhelming for him, which is good for a young guy like that.”
When asked if Rosier is being pushed by the other quarterbacks the way the coach wants him to be pushed, Richt said: “Yeah. I like what N’Kosi is doing. He made some really great plays today. [Cade] Weldon is a little bit behind N’Kosi, in my opinion, but not by a lot. They’re both competing well. Malik knows he has to do it. He tends to do better when he knows somebody is right behind him. Those two guys aren’t redshirting this year. They could have gotten redshirted last year and they did. This year there’s no redshirting. They’ll be there all year long, ready to go in case we need them. Or they may win it. We’ll see.”
Here’s what offensive coordinator Thomas Brown had to say about the QB competition:
“Malik looks good. N’Kosi looks good. Jarren has a lot of talent. Obviously it’s tougher for that guy coming in and playing quarterback. We’re not a rinky-dink type of offense, a lot of true progression reads and [middle linebacker] ID points and run game checks that the guy hasn’t learned. But he’s a super smart guy that is learning what to do.
“Cade has a lot of athletic ability and can make plays at times.’’
Is the more serious quarterback competition helping Malik?
Are N’Kosi and Cade at the point where they are serious challengers?
“Competition helps everybody at any position,’’ Brown said. “We’re deep enough at this point right now where we can have legitimate competition at every single spot. If you don’t have guys behind you that can push you or take your spot, it’s not really true competition. From a quarterback’s standpoint, tailback-wise, up front, tight end wise on the way it’s coming, and even receivers wise, there are guys who can push [to become better] or take [the starters’] spots.”
GHOST NO MORE
He once was “a ghost,’’ but he’s being noticed a lot more, according to UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown.
We’re talking about beefy running back Robert Burns, a 2017 early enrollee out of Miami Gulliver Prep who redshirted his freshman season after sustaining a shoulder injury early in spring camp.
When asked who “has taken steps forward since December,’’ here’s what Brown said: “I’ll start at my position, running back-wise, Robert Burns has kind of been a ghost since he’s been here. He’s not where I want him to be right now, but he’s been a pleasant surprise this spring. He’s made some dynamic plays, he’s broken some tackles. He’s a 225-pound guy who should play that way. I’m definitely pleased with the direction he’s going and his mind-set. ...
“He’s been hurt since he’s been here, even going back to high school [Gulliver Prep]. He was hurt practically the whole last year, didn’t really play at all.’’
▪ Soon-to-be redshirt senior Trayone Gray, out of Carol City High, is now practicing at fullback.
“I wouldn’t call him an experiment,’’ Brown said of Gray. “I think he definitely knows what to do at tailback. We’re just trying to find a way to get him involved in the game more. He’s the biggest guy I have in my room. He’s about 240 now, and he’s physical enough to play fullback. I’m definitely pleased where he is at.’’
The Canes have started doing live plays to conclude practice, with the losers — offense or defense — doing pushups afterward.
What do you guys like about keeping score at practice?
Brown: “Football is a game of winners and losers. Obviously there’s a consequence for those that do lose. We won the first two battles on offense, which is a rarity around here sometimes. It should be kind of more even. Today we fell to the defense. We just shot ourselves in the foot. It’s normally pretty heated when you put a score on the board [and there are] pushups and not pushups all these guys ante up and take more pride [in it].’’
Said Richt, who was thrilled to have his 2-week-old granddaughter, Zoe, at practice, with Zoe’s big sister Jadyn: “Another very hotly contested practice, as far as the team going against each other. The guys are really competing. We’ve kind of got a little point system going on. Losers have to do pushups. The pushups aren’t that hard, it’s just hard doing it in front of your peers after you just got beat. That’s the hard part. Defense won today. Offense won the first two days, since we started. We’ve actually gone eight plays of live football to really gauge if a guy broke a tackle or not or if a guy got a guy on the ground or not. It revs everybody up, that’s for sure. I actually didn’t run the last eight plays because I was worried about guys being late for class and all. We had a little extracurricular [activity] after a few plays that kind of slowed us down, which was good.”