University of Miami

Diaz says Miami has a starting QB, then is effusive about ‘backup.’ Who will really start?

Jarren Williams is the starting quarterback at the University of Miami.

Or is he?

Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz said Monday morning during his usual time slot on WQAM radio that “Jarren Williams is our starter.’’

But Diaz also said enough to conclude that it’s not definitive, and that his backup-turned-starter for UM’s 17-9 victory against former No. 20 Virginia on Friday — N’Kosi Perry — could be in the same role Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium when Miami (3-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) faces Georgia Tech (1-5, 0-3).

Here’s the way WQAM talk show host Joe Rose framed the question to Diaz: “N’Kosi Perry really did a nice job with things. Does it tease you a little bit to come back with him a little bit this week? Could it happen or do you stick with Jarren Williams?”

“It doesn’t tease us,’’ Diaz replied. “It lets us know what we’ve been saying all along, that we can win games with N’Kosi. N’Kosi just beat the 20th-ranked team in the country and the week before led a 28-point comeback. And last year he led a comeback against Florida State from down 20.

“I mean, N’Kosi has done some things now on his resume that are impressive. It’s what I’ve been saying all along: Jarren Williams is our starter, but it’s still up to Jarren to come back from the issues he’s been dealing with and also to come back [from] the adversity of what he faced in the Virginia Tech game and to prove to everybody that he’s ready to go.

“And if for whatever reason he is not, we’ve got all the faith in the world in N’Kosi to get it done.”

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Then, this, from WQAM co-host Zach Krantz: “So, if Jarren is healthy, Jarren will be the starter coming up this week?”

Long pause.

“If he’s healthy and if he’s ready,’’ Diaz said. “Again, it’s two parts to it. If he’s healthy and he’s ready to bounce back in essence from… You know, look, when you’re the quarterback everybody is watching everything you do. So the idea of getting back there and getting back on the horse and saying, ‘Hey, let’s ride.’ Once he’s ready for that, then we’ll be ready to go.”

Later Monday, Diaz told reporters, when asked how much better physically Williams is this week, “I’d have to imagine he’s better, so we’ll see...’’

Redshirt sophomore Perry, who started six games last season but lost the starting job to redshirt freshman Williams in fall camp, started against the Cavaliers in place of the injured Williams and completed 16 of 27 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. Perry also ran for a 3-yard keeper with 2:31 left in the game that iced the victory.

Williams, who has an injury to his throwing shoulder, had completed 89 of 124 passes (71.8 percent) for 1,074 yards, seven touchdowns in his five starts — along with the three interceptions he threw before he was pulled in the first quarter from the Oct. 5 game against Virginia Tech. He has been sacked 19 times for 123 yards lost.

Perry has played in three games this season, going 51 of 84 (60.7 percent) for 683 yards and six touchdowns and one interception. He has been sacked nine times for 51 yards lost.

Monday afternoon, offensive coordinator Dan Enos was asked how difficult it is to deal with the emotions of two quarterbacks who have both proven they can be successful and obviously want to start.

“It’s not always easy,’’ Enos said, saying he’s got to weigh the injury factor with “who’s playing the best.’’

Added Enos: “These things have a way of working themselves out.’’

The Georgia Tech game will be the last of a season-long, five-game homestand for the Hurricanes. After Saturday, the Canes travel to Pittsburgh to face the Panthers (4-2, 1-1).

UM needs to win the rest of its ACC games to have a legitimate shot at representing the ACC’s Coastal Division in the league’s championship game. But even winning out would likely put UM in a tiebreak situation, so the battle will be an uphill one.

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