University of Miami

One day left in spring for youngest UM Canes to make their cases to coach Mark Richt

University of Miami coach Mark Richt talks to redshirt freshman quarterback N'Kosi Perry during the Hurricanes' spring game on Saturday, April 14, 2018.
University of Miami coach Mark Richt talks to redshirt freshman quarterback N'Kosi Perry during the Hurricanes' spring game on Saturday, April 14, 2018.

One day left for the youngsters to show University of Miami coach Mark Richt what they can do.

One day left for redshirt freshman quarterback N'Kosi Perry and early enrollee quarterback Jarren Williams to make their cases.

The last day of spring football for the Hurricanes is Saturday, and with it the third and final scrimmage that will be mostly situational and focus on playing time for "some of the guys that don't have a lot of experience,'' Richt said.

Nearly 300 Canes football alumni will be watching on campus during "a big alumni weekend,'' Richt said. "We have over 284 players showing up to just hang out, spend time on Friday afternoon, Friday night and then Saturday after practice. After the scrimmage we'll have a barbecue with them.''

Saturday's scrimmage, one week after the spring game, is closed to the media and general public.

Richt said the Canes will do "situational stuff: third downs, red zone, short yards maybe, goal line maybe, one minute maybe, four-minute offense maybe, coming out from the one maybe. Most of those things we’ll do. And then we may do a little move-the-ball scrimmage. ...We may not do that with everybody."

That likely means that redshirt senior quarterback Malik Rosier will not get many snaps Saturday, with redshirt freshman Cade Weldon probably getting some after missing more than two weeks of practice with what Richt has said was conjunctivitis.

During an Atlantic Coast Conference coaches' teleconference on Thursday, the first question Richt was asked, naturally, was his "takeaways up to this point'' regarding the quarterback race.

"Malik's still ahead of everybody,'' the coach said. "It starts out with his knowledge of the system and his ability to get us in the right plays and the right protections and knowing who to go to with the ball versus different coverages and things of that nature.

"N'Kosi Perry is making a lot of is strides compared to what he knew in the fall. He showed up in the summer last year and was learning and doing his best. Now he's had a whole season and almost an entire spring. He's done well.

"Cade Weldon was doing well before he had an eye issue, infection, that he missed a couple days of practice. ... Then, Jarren Williams, brand-new kid out of Georgia [who] is a mid-year enrollee. Got here in January. He's learning quickly and has great fundamentals of throwing the football, and has been very, very accurate. Been really encouraged by him."

Despite the underclassmen getting plenty of playing time, expect both offensive lines — the first and second teams — to continue working together Saturday. UM's fast, athletic defensive linemen created chaos for the offensive linemen, who will be under plenty of pressure on and off the field to improve.

"We are starting to stick with an O-line [and] get the communication down,'' said 6-5, 305-pound senior center Tyler Gauthier, whose first-time offensive line includes 6-5, 305-pound senior left tackle Tyree St. Louis, 6-4, 316-pound redshirt senior left guard Jahair Jones, 6-5, 2-95-pound redshirt junior right guard Hayden Mahoney and 6-6, 350-pound sophomore right tackle Navaughn Donaldson. Mahoney and Donaldson were moved to those slots just recently.

The second-team line has mostly been 6-7, 300-pound redshirt junior George Brown, 6-3, 315-pound early enrollee freshman left guard Delone Scaife out of Miami Southridge, 6-4, 285-pound sophomore center Corey Gaynor out of Parkland Douglas, 6-6, 287-pound redshirt freshman right guard Zalon'tae Hillery and 6-5, 295-pound early enrollee freshman right tackle John Campbell.

"We are still trying to fit in a few new pieces,'' said St. Louis. "We've got a lot of younger guys, a lot of guys at new positions, including myself and some of the older guys. These practices are very big for us. The offensive line, we were very disappointed in the [spring game], but we definitely know what we need to come back to, the toughness that we need to have in fixing the little things."

The defense, which has excelled this spring, is especially excited about playing in front of the former greats.

"That's for bragging rights, you know?'' linebacker Michael Pinckney said. "We talk to a lot of those former guys, so I'd hate to not do my job in front of them, because then they're going to talk. It's going to be an important day. It's really one more chance for us to see what we've got going into the fall, because this is really it.''

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