A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Thursday evening:
▪ UM coach Mark Richt has explained his decision to start Malik Rosier instead of N’Kosi Perry on Oct. 26 against Boston College by saying simply: “Malik is just better equipped from his abilities and his experience to lead this team right now.”
Richt hasn’t explained why, but this was a factor:
The Hurricanes believe Rosier is better equipped to decipher veteran defenses, according to a Canes staffer. What’s more, Rosier is better at audibiling out of bad plays and into better ones.
Perry was flummoxed by Virginia’s senior-heavy defense. And Boston College also has a veteran defense: 7 of 11 starters are seniors; the others are juniors.
The Eagles also have a savvy, experienced defensive coordinator in Jim Reid, who has coached since 1973 and was linebackers coach with the Dolphins.
So Rosier, the staff believes, is better equipped to pick up blitzes and disguises and all of the things that an older defense with a respected coordinator are capable of doing to rattle a quarterback, especially one as young as Perry.
It will also be an emotional atmosphere with a loud crowd, and Rosier might be better equipped to handle that too, in the staff’s eyes. This will be Boston College’s annual Red Bandana game, in which the school remembers a hero of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
▪ How talented is this UM defensive line?
So much so that the Canes on Saturday didn’t give a single defensive snap to 1) Demetrius Jackson, the player who some considered their best run-stuffing defensive end as recently as the spring; 2) Jon Ford, the player some in the program consider a first-round talent; and 3) Nesta Silvera, the ballyhooed recruit who was considered the ninth-best tackle in the 2018 recruiting class, according to Rivals.
Jackson’s dramatic drop-off in playing time is mystifying. He did play on special teams on Saturday but not on defense.
Ford, we’re told, hasn’t made enough plays to get consistent work. He began spring as the starting defensive tackle opposite Gerald Willis but lost the job to Pat Bethel after a couple weeks and has never regained it.
Plus, UM understandably is giving the majority of snaps to potential team MVP Willis (he played all 61 against Virginia) and Bethel (33).
What’s interesting is that Tito Odenigbo – who committed a foolish, damaging penalty late in the Virginia game - got 22 defensive snaps last Saturday while Ford and Silvera got none.
Meanwhile, at defensive end, Joe Jackson played 61 defensive snaps, Jon Garvin 56 and Scott Patchan five, per Herald correspondent Daniel Gould.
Among other Canes whose playing time dropped against Virginia: guard Venzell Boulware (six snaps) and receiver Darrell Langham (five snaps).
▪ Receiver Brian Hightower was carted off with an ankle injury at practice last week and he’s out indefinitely. With his body type and athleticism, Hightower might be the receiver best equipped to replace Ahmmon Richards longterm.
Amid all the of the issues at quarterback and offensive line, don’t underestimate the loss of Richards to a career-ending neck injury. He was UM’s most gifted player on offense, along with Jeff Thomas.
▪ Here are the top five most targeted players on passing plays this season, courtesy of Gould:
Jeff Thomas: 17 catches in 35 targets, 401 yards
Lawrence Cager: 15 catches in 25 targets, 265 yards
Brevin Jordan: 18 catches in 26 targets, 208 yards
Mike Harley: 15 catches in 23 targets, 173 yards
Langham: 9 catches in 14 targets, 117 yards
▪ Jacksonville’s Marcus Crowley, UM’s one oral commitment at running back, is having a monster season: In eight games, he has rushed 123 times for 1290 yards (an absurd 10.4 average) and 17 rushing touchdowns and has eight catches for 171 yards and three receiving touchdowns, per canesport.com.
Recruiting guru Larry Blustein told WQAM that UM has “got to hold onto [Crowley] because Ohio State is all over him. He has had a major senior season and everyone is jumping aboard.”
Crowley was recently offered by Ohio State and reportedly booked a Nov. 3 visit there. But Crowley told Canesport he’s still “locked in” with Miami.
Meanwhile, Neptune Beach-based four star Jeremiah Payton, UM’s only receiver commitment for 2019, has 27 catches for 269 yards, a 9.9 average.
UM would love to add Georgia-based five-star receiver Jadon Haselwood, the highest-ranked uncommitted player that Miami is seriously in the mix for.
Jermaine Smith, his coach at Ellenwood Grove High, told Canesport’s Matt Shodell that Haselwood “really enjoyed” his visit to UM two weeks ago and Miami has a “decent” chance, with LSU, Auburn, Georgia (he was once committed there) and Oklahoma also in the mix.
▪ Quick stuff: Richt said of freshman tight end Will Mallory: “If everybody was healthy, we would have Mallory split out more like we David Njoku. Mallory is doing things not in his skill set yet because he still has to grow physically. If everybody was healthy right now on our tight end board, in our current team, Mallory would be getting a lot more work as a split receiver.” As it is, he’s backing up freshman Brevin Jordan...
UM believes opposing defensive backs are holding their receivers far more often than it’s being called…. Shocking to see UM, which is essentially tied for 31st in the AP top 25, getting fewer votes in the AP poll than Appalachian State and the same number as Utah State… Former UM shooting guard Bruce Brown, Detroit’s second-round pick in June’s NBA Draft, started the Pistons’ season-opener on Wednesday and went scoreless (0 for 3 shooting) in 19 minutes.