University of Miami

Bring on Savannah State — and those young UM quarterbacks. Home opener is almost here

Hurricanes quarterback N’Kosi Perry, left, practices while Malik Rosier, center, waits his turn.
Hurricanes quarterback N’Kosi Perry, left, practices while Malik Rosier, center, waits his turn. CJUSTE@MIAMIHERALD.COM

If it felt to the Miami Hurricanes as if eight months of the offseason went by in a flash before their opener last Sunday against LSU, each day this week has probably felt more like a year.

Nice to meet you, Savannah State.

The Hurricanes face their second team nicknamed “Tigers’’ at 6 p.m. Saturday in their 2018 home opener at Hard Rock Stadium. These Tigers should prove a lot easier to tame.

After former No. 8 Miami fell 33-17 to former No. 25 (and now-No. 11) LSU to begin the season, the No 22 Canes will face the lower-level Football Championship Subdivision Tigers, who move down to Division II next year and lost their 2018 opener 52-0 against Alabama-Birmingham.

The last time UM met Savannah State was Sept. 21, 2013, when the Canes crushed the Tigers 77-7 for their largest margin of victory ever and most points in UM history.

But what appalled UM fans want to see now almost as much as a rout, and they’ve made their emotions quite clear all week on social media, is for the backup quarterbacks to get their first taste of college football after starter Malik Rosier struggled against LSU.

UM coach Mark Richt refuses to say unequivocally that redshirt freshmen N’Kosi Perry, Cade Weldon and possibly freshman Jarren Williams will make their college debuts against Savannah State, but he came a bit closer to it Thursday.

“I know quarterback is the one that everybody wants to talk about,’’ Richt said, “but the goal is to get them all ready and let everybody that has got the skill-set learn enough and be in position to go in the game.

“I mean, we’re not going to play a guy just because the score gets a certain way or because a guy is a freshman and there’s a new redshirt rule. We want to play guys because they’ve earned the right to play by knowing what to do and practicing well. But I would say in general all the quarterbacks had a good week and that’s what we’re hoping for.”

The new “redshirt rule’’ of which Richt spoke allows players to compete in up to four games and be able to redshirt for that season and retain the season’s worth of eligibility.

“Hopefully we can get multiple quarterbacks in,’’ said Rosier, who is still the starter. “ ... These guys can get a lot of good experience out of this game.’’

The Canes still have their entire Atlantic Coast Conference schedule ahead of them, meaning their goals of winning the ACC, playing in the league title game and advancing to a major bowl, or even the College Football Playoffs, is not out of the question. But after Sunday’s performance in front of a national audience, it will be an uphill climb.

“It’s tough to work so long and so hard and have this opening game [against LSU], and have it be such a big moment, because it was,’’ Richt said. “It was national TV, it was all the things we talked about beforehand. And not playing well enough to win and then having to deal with that at all kind of levels...

“So, it’s hard to get over. I’m glad it’s hard to get over ... It takes a minute to get it out of your system. But usually the longer you get into the week and get into the new game plan and get into your lifting ... your running ... your practices, you start focusing on the future.

“You gotta let it go. You gotta let the past go.”

When asked what his team can gain from playing Savannah State, Richt said this: “Their record is the same as our record. We both lost. We have two teams trying to win. AlI can tell you is our goal is to get our guys to do the right assignment, with energy and attitude and physicality.

“You have to know what to do. You have to have the right technique and have to add energy to it.’’

Said Miami center Tyler Gauthier: “The good thing about bad things is that you learn from them.”

And this, from safety Jaquan Johnson: “It is a long season ahead of us. We have several game left. And we look forward to each and every one of them.’’

Richt announced Thursday that the Hurricanes will play without starting junior receiver Ahmmon Richards and key senior defensive tackle Demetrius Jackson. Each of them sustained a knee injury against LSU.

NOTE: The Miami Herald is now offering a digital sports-only subscription for $30 per year. This is unlimited access to all Herald sports stories, thus allowing you to comment in the section below as many times as you wish. Click right here to get started immediately.