Bring in Jarren Williams — but when?
Among all the other facts you can muster about two-thirds of the University of Miami football team (not including the defense) being a colossal disappointment, here’s one that will surely be addressed by the coaching staff this week: allocation of playing time for true freshman quarterback Williams.
The new NCAA redshirt rule allows true freshmen to play in all or parts of four games and still maintain their four remaining seasons of eligibility. Williams, whom fans can’t see soon enough, has already played sparingly in one game, thus leaving him only three more to burn in order for him to have four more full seasons, beginning in 2019, in which to compete.
The Canes (5-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who fell to Duke 20-12 at home Saturday in another sad performance, play at 7 p.m. Saturday against Georgia Tech (5-4, 3-3); at Virginia Tech (4-4, 3-2) on Nov. 17; and at home against Pitt (5-4, 4-1) in the Nov. 24 regular-season finale.
They need a victory against one of those three opponents to earn a bowl game.
Should Williams play on Saturday at Georgia Tech? Or should coach Mark Richt wait a week and play him in the final two regular-season games and then, if the Canes qualify, in the bowl game?
And, if Williams plays Saturday and does well, which game, then, would coaches choose to sit him? Surely not in the only home game left, when the fans would be giving him plenty of support against Pittsburgh in that regular-season finale.
Williams obviously wouldn’t start, but just get enough playing time to acclimate him to college football, get him more prepared for next season and hopefully give him some confidence.
Williams, a strong-armed 6-2, 210-pound former consensus four-star prospect considered one of the best and brightest new signal callers to enter college football this season, is from Lawrenceville (Georgia) Central Gwinnett High.
An Army All-American his senior year in high school, Williams completed 62 percent of his passes last year and threw for more than 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns with just four interceptions.
His lone appearance this season came in the home opener on Sept. 8 against Savannah State, when he threw three times and completed one pass for 17 yards. He also ran twice, once for a 2-yard touchdown.
Malik Rosier, UM’s senior starter for six of his seven games this season, has completed 77 of 144 passes (53.5-percent accuracy) for 1,007 yards and six touchdowns, with five interceptions. He also has a team-high six rushing touchdowns.
N’Kosi Perry, the redshirt freshman fans badly wanted to get more playing time, has started three of his seven games, completing 55 of 105 passes (52.4) for 701 yards and 11 touchdowns, with five interceptions. He has run for 58 yards and has no rushing touchdowns.
Redshirt freshman backup quarterback Cade Weldon, now eligible to play after sitting out four games due to suspension for violating undisclosed team rules, has played in three games, completing two of three passes for 14 yards, and running for one touchdown.
Richt already said before the season began that he envisioned a bowl game being a good one to save for true freshmen to get experience as a bridge of sorts to the future.
“You don’t want to put any player in at any position that could cost you a game,’’ Richt said in the preseason. “I don’t care who the opponent is. ...And then the last thing you want to do is hurt a kid’s confidence.’’
Williams said back in August on UM media day that Richt told him he would get his opportunity.
“I’ve just got to be ready and he’ll give me the chance,’’ Williams said that day. “The hardest part for me has been mastering that playbook. That just comes with time. I’m learning, but I still make mistakes sometimes.’’
With the season dwindling in days and that redshirt rule glaringly in play, it appears his time has come.
Now it’s up to the coaches to decide when that time begins.
▪ The Hurricanes game at Georgia Tech on Saturday, Nov. 10, has been set for 7 p.m. on ESPN2.