Barry Jackson

UM coach Mark Richt wants to set record straight on looming quarterback competition

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier (12) sets up to pass in the second quarter of the Dec. 30 Orange Bowl. Rosier will try to hold off competition from N’Kosi Perry and others in the coming months.
Miami Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier (12) sets up to pass in the second quarter of the Dec. 30 Orange Bowl. Rosier will try to hold off competition from N’Kosi Perry and others in the coming months.

N’Kosi Perry, Cade Weldon and Jarren Williams will be given a shot to wrest the University of Miami quarterback job from Malik Rosier over the coming months.

But for the first time, coach Mark Richt said Saturday that if Rosier improves in the areas that need improvement - primarily accuracy - he’s likely to remain the starter.

“Backing up on this QB thing, it’s not like ground zero competition,” Richt said Saturday before hosting his All Pro Dads event at Hard Rock Stadium. “Malik is our starting quarterback but we are going to let everybody compete and see who’s improved and see who might be able to overtake anybody at any position.

“I’m not saying Malik is not the starting quarterback going into this thing. If he does what he’s supposed to do, he’ll probably continue to be.”

Rosier was 21st in the country in touchdown passes with 26 and 29th in yards with 3120.

But he ranked 112th among 125 major college quarterbacks in completion percentage at 54 percent and threw 14 interceptions.

Asked how much the quarterback play must improve, Richt said “We’ve been watching the cut ups of the whole season. If you take just the highlights of Malik Rosier, there are some unbelievably great highlights, some great moments. And then there are some inconsistent moments. When Malik becomes more consistent in his accuracy – probably more than anything else – he can lead us as far as we need to go.”

So can accuracy improve? “It can. Accuracy improves when routes get run better, when protection gets better, when footwork by the quarterback gets better, when maybe we call a certain play at the right time. Most plays have a chance of success no matter what. Sometimes you just happen to call the right one at the right moment and then the fundamantals of throwing the ball. From spring ball to fall is when you try to tweak anything in somebody’s throwing motion. Right before spring practice is not the time to do it.”

Asked if Perry has caught up to Rosier in knowledge of the system, Richt said:

“N’Kosi has been in the system long enough where knowledge of the system won’t be something that will hold him back. It will be competing and can he win the job? We’ve got Cade Weldon who knows the system too and has got a lot of ability.

“We’ve got Jarren Williams coming in who’s going to try to get up to speed. It will be tough for him to truly compete in the spring but by the time the fall rolls around, if that thing hasn’t been decided by then, he’ll get a chance to throw his hat in there too.”

Asked about the fact that many fans will be disappointed if Perry isn’t the starter and the perception that Perry has a much higher ceiling, Richt said: “They probably thought that a year ago and we won 10 in a row so I don’t think they felt bad about Malik being the quarterback at that time. Whoever is in there has got to do his job and play well.”

Richt addressed other issues:

• He said there is a lot of interest to replace Alabama-bound defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski but no decision is imminent.

“By the time spring ball starts [on March 20], I definitely want somebody by then,” he said. “We’re not starting another three weeks or so. When it comes to hiring people, the goal is not to be the fastest but to be right. I want to make sure we bring in the right person.

“The good news is there is a massive amount of people that want to be here. It’s a great destination job. We have a lot of people that are really interested even though it’s an awkward time of the year. This late in the spring, usually everybody is settled in and it’s over. Because the NFL cherry-picked Alabama’s guy, Bama cherry picked our guy, now we’re going to find the best guy for the job. There are a lot of great men out there who want this job.

“I’ve got to make sure we’re bringing in the right person as far as his ability to coach, as far as the type of person he is, his character, can he recruit and does he really want to do things the way I like to do things. That’s important. I want him to fit into the fabric of our staff. We’re got great camaraderie, great unity amongst our staff and I think that bleeds into our players and I want to make sure that person fits.”

• He said Navaughn Donaldson “more than likely” will remain at guard instead of shifting to tackle.

“We have enough tackle candidates that we are going to start out with him at guard,” Richt said. “If we get through spring and everybody is struggling and we’ve got Tyree [St. Louis] and we don’t know who else it could be, we would consider making that move but we think we have enough guys that have the skill set for tackle that hopefully they’ll do well and we can leave Navaughn there for now, anyway.”

• He said Deejay Dallas will remain at running back. “He’s putting on pounds, weight room stuff. He might be in the 215 range and he was cutting weight to try to get in the 190 range to be a receiver. He’s probably in the 205-210 range.”

• He said offensive line coach Stacy Searels accompanied UM guard/center Corey Gaynor, a Stoneman Douglas alum, to the funeral of former football assistant coach Aaron Feis, among 17 people killed on the Parkland campus Feb. 14.

Cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph also went to the funeral.

“Corey didn’t want to miss anything,” Richt said. “Help him navigate his feelings and work with him all the way through. We know the coach there. We’ve been all calling and texting him giving our condolenses.”

Richt said UM would do something to acknowledge the tragedy and honor the victims either at the spring game at Hard Rock Stadium “if we think the spring game is a significant enough moment to do it” or otherwise, at the start of the regular season.

UM hasn’t announced the date of the spring game.

• Richt takes great satisfaction in overseeing another All-Pro Dads event, which allows parents and kids to bond and play football.

“It’s a great day because I know fatherhood is so crucially important to our society,” said Richt, who previously hosted the event at Georgia and hosted it for the second time since coming to UM. “If there’s one thing that changed in America and if every dad stood up and did what God designed them to be, I know we would have a much better world.”