University of Miami

Young Miami Hurricanes quarterbacks likely to play Saturday in UM’s home opener

The University of Miami fans were furious Sunday on social media (and elsewhere) as the 25th-ranked LSU Tigers’ 33-17 trouncing of their beloved No. 8 Hurricanes began in the first half and gradually continued.

By game’s end and deep into the night, most of those same fans had written off the Canes and quarterback Malik Rosier with enough vitriol to induce a new state of depression.

Don’t expect major changes under center — at least not yet—that result in the long-term benching of Rosier next Saturday night when UM plays in its home opener against Savannah State, a lower-level FCS opponent that lost its first game 52-0 Thursday to Alabama-Birmingham (UAB). But do expect at least some, if not all, of Rosier’s backups to get serious snaps. After the LSU game and considering the competition, anything otherwise wouldn’t make sense.

“We always are going to try to play who gives us the best chance to win,’’ UM coach Mark Richt said after the game, when asked if he’d like to give the other quarterbacks a shot. “If we’re ever in position to let another guy play, then we’ll do it. And with the new redshirt rule...true freshmen are going to get to play across America [in] three, four games probably, which is great.’’

Then, regarding true freshman quarterback Jarren Williams, who has a strong arm and showed significant promise during the spring and in fall camp, but also according to his coach does not know the playbook and mental side of the game nearly enough, Richt added: “Whether or not Jarren ever gets in the ball game, I don’t know. You have to earn the right to be second team or third team.

“And if you’re fourth team, then you better hope things go really good for you to get in there.’’

Or really bad..

“Anyway, we’re going to — we’ll always be in the business of playing who we think gives us the best chance to win,’’ Richt said.

Even with an extremely disappointing performance by Rosier — 15 of 35 for 259 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions — no way his backups were going to be throw into a massive fire pit against one of the top defenses in the Southeastern Conference.

Redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry, the sweetheart of fans all last season while he was redshirting, didn’t help matters by getting himself suspended for Sunday’s game by violating team policy. That in itself is not the type of leadership expected from a talented Hurricane who plays the most important position on the team.

The other redshirt freshman, Cade Weldon, mostly had a good fall camp but threw five interceptions during the final fall scrimmage, according to multiple sources. Just imagine him being thrown into the fire against LSU.

Rosier’s play was hurt badly by an offensive line that admittedly was overwhelmed by the Tigers, who sacked Rosier four times and held UM’s running game to 83 yards, including 30 by starter Travis Homer.

”Playing the first game of the season, you really don’t know what that defense is going to come out with,’’ said Canes center Tyler Gauthier. “They threw a lot of new blitzes at us. And having a first-time starter at left guard and right guard, we’re doing two-minute drills. Sometimes I’m not able to look up because I’m waiting for the count. So I have to rely on them to do the calls. For the most part [right guard] Hayden [Mahoney] did a great job at the end with sending new blitzes.

“I think that’s where they killed us at the end.’’

Said Rosier of LSU: “They did a really good job. Sometimes they went drop eight. They made me fill in the tight windows. There were a couple of times where I almost missed Jeff [Thomas] and he made a great catch for me. Sometimes it’s a bad play. Sometimes I get hit as I’m throwing. Rhythm was off.

“They did a really good job of getting those three guys in my face and making me throw under pressure.’’

Though the defense held the Tigers to two field goals in the second half, one of them four plays after Rosier’s second pick, UM hurt itself by allowing big plays. The Canes gave up 296 yards, but 133 of them came on four plays, each of which played a role on an LSU scoring drive:

First quarter: 50-yard TD run by Nick Brossette for 10-3 lead.

Second quarter: 22-yard pass from Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase that set up 1-yard rushing touchdown by Brossette for 17-3 lead.
Second quarter: 37-yard pass from Burrow to Justin Jefferson to set up field-goal drive following Feagles’ third botched punt for 20-3 lead.
Third quarter: 23-yard pass from Burrow to Jefferson to set up field goal drive for 30-3 lead.

After the field goal drive that put LSU up 30-3, Miami’s defense held the Tigers to 53 yards on 20 plays (2.65 yards/play) spanning four drives (including the game-ending kneel down).
On LSU’s first nine drives, the Tigers accumulated 243 yards of offense on 45 plays (5.4 yards/play).

Following special teams struggles (poor punting and missed field goal), the Tigers scored 20 points on four first-half drives.