University of Miami

This 6-6 Baby Cane did some big-kid damage at UM scrimmage while QBs, O-line struggled

During Early National Signing Day Class 2A State champion Champagnat has Gregory Rousseau signing with UM on Wednesday, December 20, 2017. Rousseau did great in UM’s first spring scrimmage on April 7, 2018.
During Early National Signing Day Class 2A State champion Champagnat has Gregory Rousseau signing with UM on Wednesday, December 20, 2017. Rousseau did great in UM’s first spring scrimmage on April 7, 2018. adiaz@miamiherald.com

If you were waiting to hear about a quarterback lighting up the defense at the University of Miami’s first spring scrimmage Saturday at Greentree Field, get out a pillow and blanket and take a long nap until the spring game at 6 p.m. April 14 at Hard Rock Stadium.

As is usually the case in these scrimmages, the defense did the dominating.

The scrimmage was closed, but had it been open, earning a rousing standing ovation would have been early enrollee freshman Greg Rousseau, a 6-6, 225-pound defensive end out of Champagnat Catholic. Rousseau had seven tackles, five of them for loss, and four sacks.

“If you see Rousseau in person, he’s tall, he’s got long arms, he’s athletic, he’s coachable, he’s teachable,’’ UM coach Mark Richt said. “He was kind of hidden away in this little school and I think if he was somewhere else, it would have been a harder battle to get him, quite frankly. I think we stole one there.’’

UM coach Mark Richt reads offensive statistics after first spring scrimmage on April 7, 2018.

The quarterbacks who got the brunt of the snaps in the closed scrimmage -- soon-to-be senior Malik Rosier and redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry -- nonetheless were not particularly impressive, at least according to the “unofficial official stats’’ read off by Richt. Rosier and Perry interchanged on the first- and second-team units. The first-team offense went against the first-team defense, and the second teams faced each other as well.

Rosier, who “in [controlled] scrimmage situations’’ completed 8 of 17 passes for 109 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, Richt said, is still soundly leading the quarterback race. But he struggled with his completion percentage and threw an interception.

Perry completed 6 of 13 passes for 33 yards and an interception. He was sacked the most Saturday, Richt said, although one long run helped erase some of the negative yardage.

The quarterback who did shine was early enrollee freshman Jarren Williams. Although he only had two series with the second-team offensive unit. Williams completed 6 of 8 passes for 86 yards and two touchdown in those series, also doing well in third-team skeleton drills.

“Malik is ahead of everybody as far as knowing what to do and how to do it,’’ Richt said. “There’s no question...N’Kosi is [getting] much better, and he’s getting it and he’s seeing where having [Rosier’s] experience to get us in the right play can make all the difference in winning a game -- winning a play or winning a game.

“But N’Kosi has come a long way, Cade [Weldon] has come a long way. Unfortunately, Cade has got conjunctivitis and he wasn’t able to go. He’s highly contagious right now.

“I’ll say this about Jarren – sometimes I use the term ‘He doesn’t know that he doesn’t know.’ Sometimes he’s just back there feeling things. But when he does throw it at something, he usually hits it, which is pretty good. I’ll say he’s learning at a very rapid pace and being here in the spring is good for him and good for us.”

Keep in mind that the offensive line struggled Saturday, according to Richt, especially the tackles, allowing the defensive ends to get around the edge and earn some sacks. End Scott Patchan had a very good day with five tackles, three for sacks.

Sophomore linebacker Bradley Jennings also played well, amassing seven tackles, two for loss, a sack and a pass breakup. And early enrollee cornerback Gilbert Frierson had four tackles, one for loss and an interception.

One offensive player who had a super day was speedy, soon-to-be sophomore receiver Jeff Thomas. Thomas has already proven to be a big-time talent in his limited time on the field as a freshman, catching 17 passes for 374 yards and two touchdowns last season. On Saturday, Thomas gained 94 yards on three catches, two of them for touchdowns. Also excelling was fellow sophomore speedster Mike Harley, with two catches for 40 yards and a touchdown.

Among the young tailbacks, early enrollee Lorenzo Lingard, one of the highest rated prep stars in the nation, did “some really good things,’’ Richt said, despite getting no yardage on five carries because “he really didn’t get any space to run.’’

“He’s still a little shaky on assignments, but we ask our backs to a lot in pass protection,’’ the coach said of Lingard. “It’s not easy to know who to block and how to do it, but he’s come a long way. He picked up a beautiful blitz one time [and] we scored a touchdown on it.’’

Hurricanes coach Mark Richt reeled off several defensive stats from UM’s first spring scrimmage on April 7, 2018.

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