Barry Jackson

Where the Miami Hurricanes quarterback race stands days before starter is determined

Coach Manny Diaz talks fall scrimmage, possible QB announcement

UM football head coach Manny Diaz talks with members of the media after practice on August 6, 2019. Diaz spoke about team goals and the possibility of announcing a starting quarterback soon.
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UM football head coach Manny Diaz talks with members of the media after practice on August 6, 2019. Diaz spoke about team goals and the possibility of announcing a starting quarterback soon.

Miami Hurricanes notes on a day Manny Diaz rewarded his players by taking them to a water park after practice:

▪ Two weeks into camp, UM officials who have observed practice reiterated today that nobody has clearly distanced himself in the quarterback race.

Tate Martell was off with his accuracy Thursday, and his accuracy has been the big question since his arrival from Ohio State.

One screen pass nearly got picked off and there was another throw that went nowhere near the receiver. One UM official who has watched him for two weeks said he’ll have a couple good passes, then a couple bad passes, and his passes sometimes sail or wobble.

One UM person said you can’t accept plays like one from Martell early in camp, when he threw a pass directly to Scott Patchan at the goal line for an interception.

On the plus side, he’s elusive, throws well on the run, can adjust his release when being chased (sometimes throwing sidearm when needed) and is smart and well-prepared and thinks like a coach — which Dan Enos wants in his quarterback. His mechanics and accuracy have improved from early in the spring, thanks to Martell’s willingness to take coaching from Enos.

In his defense, he’s been under constant pressure and has done a good job escaping the pressure on some plays. And on Thursday, multiple center snaps to him landed on the ground, which isn’t his fault.

But you would like more consistent accuracy, especially on sideline throws and vertical routes.

One UM person said N’Kosi Perry probably is best suited of the three to run Enos’ offense in the sense that he has a good arm, improved accuracy, and mobility and does a good job of hiding the ball, a deceptive element important in an offense that features reverses and jet sweeps.

The concern with Perry remains turnovers. You can’t have plays like one in the scrimmage Sunday where he dropped back to pass and the ball simply fell out of his hands for a turnover.

Perry made some really nice throws Thursday but also a couple of poor ones. He’s become more mature and pays close attention when Enos talks, as he should.

Jarren Williams remains the Canes wild card. One player this week conveyed to friends that he believes Williams has been the best of the three quarterbacks in camp, but that’s subjective and there’s no telling what Enos and Manny Diaz are thinking.

Williams again made some very impressive throws on Thursday. He’s got good size, a good arm and has gotten himself in better shape. At his best, he throws a nice deep ball.

But his accuracy isn’t elite level, either, and his passes can hang in the air sometimes. He’s also been playing catchup after not putting in as much work as coaches would have wanted last season.

He might be the most talented passer of the group but he’s also the least experienced.

There’s probably no magic elixir among these three quarterbacks, and Enos and Diaz have a very difficult choice if they stick by their plan to determine a starter after Saturday’s scrimmage.

NOTABLE

▪ Freshman Zion Nelson continues to impress; nobody has been able to wrest the left tackle job from him.

“He has been playing with effort and toughness,” offensive line coach Butch Barry said. “He has good athleticism and length. That’s at a premium.”

▪ In a competitive receiver battle, Evidence Njoku remains on the outside looking in, facing an uphill battle to get playing time at a deep position. And durability remains an issue with him, too.

“Evidence, you look at his physique he’s a good looking specimen,” receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield said. “Just constant daily reminders of improving his skill as a receiver. We know he’s athletic. He has to continue to improve his skill at the wide receiver position.”

▪ Louis Hedley did a good job with pooch kicks in Thursday’s practice.

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