Brad Kaaya is Miami’s starting quarterback, in case you didn’t know.
“Yeah?” he said.
No surprise. But this might be: coach Mark Richt named redshirt sophomores Vincent Testaverde and Malik Rosier the lead contenders for the backup role behind Kaaya.
“It’s not 100-percent solid that one of those two will be the No. 2, but they’re in the driver’s seat right now,” Richt said after Friday’s practice. “They’ll get all the reps with the [second unit].”
Rosier played in seven games last year as a backup to Kaaya. Testaverde, the son of former Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde, is a walk-0n who played in one game in 2014 at Texas Tech.
The two quarterbacks without game experience, redshirt freshman Evan Shirreffs and true freshman Jack Allison, will work on Miami’s scout team beginning next week. Allison will likely redshirt.
Now, Richt said, he hopes his lead backups don’t “spit the bit.”
Richt, who works closely with Miami’s quarterbacks (along with son Jon Richt) and calls UM’s offensive plays, has expressed displeasure about all the quarterbacks behind Kaaya. During one post-practice interview early in camp, he memorably put his hand to his forehead and said “Kaaya …” then lowered it to gut-level and said “pack,” referring to the four-man group contending for the backup spot.
“First of all, very tight race,” Mark Richt said. “There were times when I would have said Evan is in that bunch. There were times where I would have said Jack is in that two-man deal. It took a long time to get to this point. No one really was so consistent that I was like, ‘This is a slam dunk.’
“All these guys, even the top two, they’ve not done everything like we want it done on a consistent basis. But they show flashes, and they’re a little more solid, maybe, in their accuracy or the decision-making process.”
Kaaya said he didn’t think any of the backups should be struggling with the offense. “It should be pretty close to natural for them at this point,” he said.
Rosier (6-1, 215 pounds) completed 29-of-57 passes for 338 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions last season. In his only start, he helped the Hurricanes to a thrilling win at Duke last Oct. 31. Rosier went 20-of-29 for 272 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.
It would be speculative to say that game made the one-time Hurricanes outfielder overconfident, but at any rate, Richt said “hero ball” is a sport he doesn’t want Rosier playing.
“Malik has a tendency to want to do something heroic,” Richt said. “I keep telling him I don’t need a hero, I need someone to run the system. … Most great plays are just a normal play that they do at an extraordinary time.”
Testaverde, a basketball player as a kid growing up in Tampa, started playing football in 2012 as a junior at Jesuit High. His father’s connection with Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury — they spent time together on the New York Jets — scored him a walk-on spot in Lubbock.
As a true freshman in 2014, Testaverde (6-2, 200) was the Red Raiders’ second-stringer. He saw his only game action Nov. 1 at Texas, when he entered midway through the second quarter. He went 15-of-26 for 116 yards and threw a pick. Two years later, he’s more mature.
According to one staffer, he excels at “not burning the house down.” That person compared him to defensive end Trent Harris: “Probably the least talented of the four. He doesn’t make ‘wow’ plays but after you grade the film … you’re like, damn, kid played pretty good.”
The staffer also said Shirreffs was for most of camp the leader of the four, but in UM’s last scrimmage he fumbled several snap exchanges and forced a few throws. Richt was — and is — looking for the quarterback who makes the fewest mistakes.
Kaaya, incidentally, said he believed Shirreffs has been dealing with an injury on his throwing hand of late.
Mullins impresses: Richt said he saw new arrival Dionte Mullins run one play. “He ran a little stop route. The ball was a little high, he snatched it, tucked it and turned up field, nice and smooth. Looks like a really smooth athlete.”
Kaaya’s take on Mullins: “It’s his first day, so I couldn’t tell you. … I know coach likes him. He calls him ‘Jingle Joints,’ or something like that. He said, ‘That guy’s got ‘jingle joints,’ or some ‘jingle in his joints.’ Funny term.”
Asked to name the most consistent receiver on the team, Kaaya joked it might be him. “I haven’t dropped too many snaps from [center] Nick [Linder]. He said Malcolm Lewis, Dayall Harris, Braxton Berrios, Stacy Coley and Ahmmon Richards “can all get the job done. They’re all fast, they’re all quick.” Others at UM have commented that Sam Bruce and Darrell Langham are behind that group. Mullins, clearly, would be in the back of the pack.
Offensive line talk: Richt said he would be comfortable putting “six or seven” offensive linemen in a game. Aside from starters Trevor Darling, Kc McDermott, Nick Linder, Danny Isidora and Sunny Odogwu, the first two off the bench would be Tyree St. Louis and senior Alex Gall. St. Louis, a sophomore, said he’s training as the backup left tackle, and redshirt freshman Bar Milo said he switched to left guard on Monday. Milo, frank as always, said he feels he has “a long way to go” before coaches trust him to play in a game.
Linder and Darling would tell him to keep fighting. Both were working with the second and third units at this point in 2014, freshmen who didn’t expect to see much action on UM’s veteran line. In Week 4 against Duke, Miami lost starting right tackle Taylor Gadbois and then-backup McDermott for the season because of knee injuries. Four weeks later, left tackle Ereck Flowers injured his knee. It happens.
Miami remains very short on tackles, one reason five-star prospect Alex Leatherwood (he’s considering Miami and Alabama) is one major recruiting priority. Miami has a commitment from four-star Navaughn Donaldson and is looking for several more. If Miami can’t get a few top-level recruits, it may go the junior college route.
Noteworthy: More love for fullback Marquez Williams from Kaaya: “He’s a huge addition. He’s going to have a big role in this offense.” … Wonder if sophomore defensive tackle Kendrick Norton will write him in: