University of Miami

Quarterback Brad Kaaya impresses Mark Richt in UM’s first spring scrimmage

With the University of Miami’s first spring scrimmage closed to the public and media on Saturday morning and no players speaking to reporters afterward, it was unclear how much information would be revealed.

Enter coach Mark Richt, who with gracious transparency grabbed a listing of “very unofficial official” stats jotted on notebook paper by a UM football staffer and read them off one by one for the media before taking questions.

What was learned?

The best answer would be something well known that was reinforced: Rising junior quarterback Brad Kaaya is still really good.

Kaaya, whom Richt called “super accurate,” threw four touchdown passes in the scrimmage on 12-for-21 passing and 186 yards.

“He only threw one ball that I can remember that was wide open and he just missed [the receiver],” Richt said. “There may have been a dropped ball here or there. His accuracy grade will be higher than his actual passing percentage.”

Kaaya also impressed Richt on the mental side, politely correcting him on a couple of errors calling plays or protections in the system Richt has run for years and Kaaya is just learning.

“I’m thankful Brad is smarter than me,” Richt said, noting he was a bit rusty calling plays for the first time in 10 years.

On the other hand, backup quarterback Malik Rosier struggled, throwing two interceptions — one a bad decision right to a defender and the other on a tipped ball, according to Richt.

“Malik, like everybody, has to understand that we can’t turn a bad situation into a catastrophe,” Richt said. “Sometimes a bad thing happens — protection breaks down or guys get covered. Don’t turn that bad situation into something awful. Throw it away, take a sack if you have to.”

Senior wide receiver Stacy Coley, who contemplated entering the draft after his junior season but decided to return, led all receivers with 94 yards on four catches and a touchdown on a hitch-and-go.

“The [defensive backs] have been jumping on those routes the whole spring. I waited patiently until the scrimmage to call it,” Richt said. “We protected well, Brad threw a nice ball.”

Tight end Standish Dobard, not normally lauded for his pass-catching abilities, stood out with three receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown. Mark Walton had the lone rushing touchdown, and Trayone Gray led all running backs with 47 rushing yards.

Defensively, linebacker Jermaine Grace had a fumble recovery for a touchdown on top of a scrimmage-high five tackles.

“The ball was not secured. There’s no reason for that ball to come out other than somebody cared more to knock it out than the guy holding the ball to hold it,” Richt said of the unknown culprit on the fumble (the defender who forced it also was not disclosed).

Interceptions were recorded by linebacker Juwon Young, safety Robert Knowles and cornerback Terrance Henley. Defensive lineman and Florida transfer Gerald Willis had two sacks against the third offensive unit, according to Richt’s recollection.

▪ One concern to come from Richt was that he continues to see too many penalties. Aside from the fumble, he didn’t appear as upset with the turnovers as one of the interceptions came on a tipped ball.

▪ Richt noted that the team escaped the scrimmage without injury outside of soreness.

“Considering it’s the first scrimmage, considering it’s practice No. 9, I thought it was a good day,” he said.

▪ UM will hold a second scrimmage next Saturday, which will be open to the public at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach. The new coaching staff will have a postgame meal with players’ parents to get to know their families.

The spring game is set for 2 p.m. April 16 at Lockhart Stadium.

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