University of Miami

Looks as if Canes have new starting quarterback, but Mark Richt won’t say if it’s true

Miami Hurricanes QB N’Kosi Perry says the win has made him more comfortable

Miami Hurricanes quarterback N'Kosi Perry speaks to the media after defeating Florida International University 31-17 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Saturday, September 22, 2018.
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Miami Hurricanes quarterback N'Kosi Perry speaks to the media after defeating Florida International University 31-17 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Saturday, September 22, 2018.

If redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry is starting Thursday night for the No. 16 Miami Hurricanes against North Carolina in a nationally televised home game, UM coach Mark Richt won’t divulge it.

“I think the less your opponent knows, the better,’’ Richt told reporters Monday afternoon at his weekly press conference, despite the fact that for the first time since Perry became a Hurricane, he took all the first-team snaps during the 15 minutes of media viewing at UM practice.

“If we knew exactly what they were going to do on offense,’’ Richt said of UNC (1-2), “it would be a huge advantage...’’

Behind Perry during the viewing: usual redshirt senior Malik Rosier, then redshirt freshman Cade Weldon and true freshman Jarren Williams.

“I know this: I’m going to continue to watch practice and let everybody know what’s up when it’s time to let them know,’’ Richt said. “But I’m not telling what’s up.

“I had a little fun today in our little running back [handoff] drill,’’ Richt continued. “I know how much you all watch it. I saw y’all scribbling down there. So, I got a good chuckle on that one.’’

Richt went on to point out that Rosier, Perry and third-string quarterback Weldon got first-team reps on Monday.

“We think all three of those guys have gotten to the point where they’ve earned the right to play and we’re just going to continue to watch them practice and see who we think is the best guy to help us win.”

Basically, Richt’s bottom line: “I’m going to play the guy that gives us the best chance to win on a weekly basis, game by game.”

Earlier Monday, Richt told WQAM during his weekly time slot with hosts Joe Rose and Zach Krantz, that he decided the night before the 31-17 victory against FIU that he would put Perry in the third series “and just see where it goes.”

“I didn’t know how he we would start the first couple series. I didn’t know what was going to happen... He played well. He hit about nine, 10 in a row, and everywhere moving the ball and scoring points and all that, so I kept him in there.’’

When Rose asked Richt who the starter would be for the Canes (3-1) on Thursday, Richt went with his playing-the-guy-that-gives-us-the-best-shot-of-winning answer.

But when Rose asked Richt if he really had no idea, Richt said, while Rose was still talking, “I have a pretty good idea, but I’d prefer to...To be honest with you, I’m not 100 percent sure, but I do a lot of things based on what my gut, what my spirit’s tellng me. And right now I’ve just been scrambling around trying to get this game plan in.’’

Then Richt spoke in detail about Perry’s impressive performance against FIU: 17-of-25 for 224 yards and three touchdowns, with an interception.

Richt said Monday afternoon at his news conference that the quarterback position is usually “more settled than it is right this second, but the very good news is we’ve got some really competent guys that can play. That’s what I’m most excited about.

“A year ago, [former UM quarterback] Evan Shirreffs was certainly a guy that we had a lot of faith could come in and know exactly what to do and could play for us. But the other two guys [then true freshmen Perry and Weldon] really weren’t ready.

“Just like today, [true freshman quarterback] Jarren Williams is not ready. In the future, Jarren, when he is ready... he’ll put pressure on people once he learns what he needs to learn. Not just the system, but also more leadership skills. I’m not saying he’s not going to have leadership skills... It just takes time for a quarterback to really be ready to truly compete. The competition at first is learning what to do and learning how to be that leader and learning how to make sure you handle your business on and off the field.

“All those things come into play, so when Jarren gets there, he’s going to put heat on everybody, too.’’

Richt reiterated that Rosier “did nothing wrong. It’s just the young guys kept maturing and getting better and it got to the point where it’s time to see what they could do — and Kosi got that opportunity.”

Richt is likely going to replace struggling punter Zach Feagles with Jack Spicer for UNC....Slot receiver and return specialist Jeff Thomas, who left the game early Saturday because of dehydration, practiced fully, Richt said, and will play Thursday...Star safety Jaquan Johnson, who missed last game with a hamstring injury, was sidelined working with a trainer at practice. He was taking very short passes, but not running...Receiver Ahmmon Richards was on a conditioning bike during media viewing...Linebacker Waynmon Steed was sidelined Monday and working with training staff...Williams was doing passing drills. He sat out some last week, according to Richt, because of a recurring abdominal muscle strain.

The Canes will wear all black for UNC on Thursday.

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