University of Miami

Miami quarterback N’Kosi Perry to start again: ‘N’Kosi gives us the best chance to win’

Jarren Williams might be the “guy,” but University of Miami quarterback N’Kosi Perry will be starting in place of Williams again this Saturday against Georgia Tech at Hard Rock Stadium.

“I’m just thankful for the opportunity, and I’m ready to get a win for this team again,” Perry said.

UM football coach Manny Diaz made the announcement Wednesday after practice before any questions were asked.

“We’ve had two good days of preparation,’’ Diaz said. “It has been really good to get Jarren Williams back on the field. He basically has been taking a fair amount of reps, much more work than he did a week ago.

“But after watching the last couple of days, we’ll still continue to start N’Kosi Perry at quarterback. We just feel like N’Kosi’s development, plus where Jarren still is and just getting back into the swing of things, N’Kosi gives us the best chance to win.

“That being said, Jarren is going to prepare like he’s going to play on Saturday, and there could be a role he plays. He knows that. But until we really get Jarren feeling like he’s 100 percent, N’Kosi is the answer.”

Williams sustained an injury to his throwing shoulder and missed last week’s game against then-No. 20 Virginia. Perry, the redshirt sophomore backup who lost the starting race in fall camp but started six games last season, led the Hurricanes (3-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) to a 17-9 victory.

Perry completed 16 of 27 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown last week. He also ran for a 3-yard keeper with 2:31 left in the game that iced the victory. He said he wants to improve on his “deep ball accuracy’’ against Georgia Tech.

“If we would have hit some of those deep balls [against Virginia] then I feel like the game would have been out of reach a lot earlier,’’ Perry said.

Diaz was asked Wednesday if Williams not being named starter was based more on his physical situation than anything else.

“That’s correct,’’ Diaz said. “He’s responded well this week mentally. But physically, in terms of doing everything he wants to do today — and it’s still Wednesday... From our preparation standpoint, [Williams] could be ready to go Saturday. But from our preparation standpoint of knowing who the starter is, and I’m a believer, like how we named Jarren two weeks before the [opening] game, [it’s important] just getting the team to rally behind the guy and just everybody knowing right now N’Kosi’s the guy, so we can prepare for our final practice and walk throughs with that idea.”

Will there still be a battle between Williams and Perry when Williams is 100-percent healthy?

“I’m still going to keep saying the same thing I’m saying,’’ Diaz said. “I think Jarren’s our guy and just N’Kosi go out there and play and lets see what happens.”

What exactly does Diaz mean when he says, ‘Jarren’s our guy?’

Diaz: “Jarren is our starting quarterback. We’ve never wavered from that.”

Williams, a redshirt freshman, had completed 89 of 124 passes (71.8 percent) for 1,074 yards and seven touchdowns in his five starts — along with the three interceptions he threw before he was replaced by Perry in the first quarter of 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, with one interception. He has been sacked nine times for 52 yards lost. When asked if he felt as though he considered the Georgia Tech game an audition, he said, “I definitely don’t look at it as an audition.’’

“Personally, I feel regardless if I’m starting or not, I’m always ready,’’ Perry said. “I just prepare and am just thankful for the opportunity.’’

Georgia Tech, also in Miami’s Coastal Division of the ACC, is 1-5 and 0-3.

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Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.