Three thoughts after Miami Hurricanes’ scrimmage No. 2 of 2017

Shaq Quarterman and Miami’s defense is making it hard for the offense — but that’s a good thing for the Hurricanes. (Miami Herald)

[Full stats report from Saturday]

Three thoughts after UM’s second scrimmage of camp, which was closed to the public and media, but followed by a post-practice chat with Mark Richt (and others who watched):

1. It looks like a two-man race at QB.   

Richt has said for more than a month that he plans to wait until Miami’s second scrimmage of camp to name a starter. The second scrimmage is over, and Rosier has been the first quarterback up in drills all fall, handing off to Mark Walton and thrown to Ahmmon Richards, Chris Herndon and Braxton Berrios in the parts of practice the media is allowed to watch.

He has also put up the best stats in Miami’s two scrimmages so far: a combined 25-of-39 for 441 yards, with five touchdowns and an interception. That’s a 64 percent completion rate, and a quarterback rating of 196.27. Now, these are situational scrimmages, and he’s facing Miami’s backups, but that’ll play.

Meanwhile, Shirreffs has had a better completion percentage (69.7), and his passer rating (185.02) is nothing to sneeze at. He has gone 23-of-33 for 359 yards, with three touchdowns and a pick. Richt  wasn’t happy with his interception, but Shirreffs’ deep ball is not his strength.

Those two have taken the majority of the reps with the first-string offense, and took all the No. 1 reps Saturday. Part of the reason, Richt said, is to help the offense gel and build confidence. “The guys who knew what to do were with the 1 unit, and that was at all positions,” he said.

Fourteen days away from the Sept. 2 season-opener against Bethune-Cookman, any other quarterback who is a serious challenger for the starting job had better show competence, quickly.

Perry is completing passes at a 44 percent rate, and a 95.3 efficiency rating. He’s also facing the first-string defense. Through two scrimmages, he is 12-for-27 for 148 yards, with a touchdown and a pick.

Weldon has completed 3-of-15 passes for 51 yards, with a touchdown and a pick. He’s likely to redshirt, but Richt wouldn’t confirm that.

“I’m closer. I’ll watch film. We’re about to watch it with the staff. We’ll  watch it with the players today,” Richt said. “By Tuesday I’ll have made up my mind. Whether I announce anything, I don’t know. More than likely I will by Tuesday.”

2. Tight ends, running backs a worry

Miami’s jumbo package may not be so jumbo this year.

With David Njoku leaving for the NFL, Marquez Williams graduating and Joe Yearby and Gus Edwards moving on, the Hurricanes have taken a hit at tight end, fullback and running back. Last year, UM had the bodies to bully teams near the painted area. Not this year.

Though still young, tight ends Michael Irvin and Brian Polendey haven’t proven trustworthy. Coaches are happier about sophomore back Travis Homer, but he is still developing. And if Richt is pleased with his fullbacks — most of whom are walk-ons who converted from linebacker — he hasn’t said it publicly.

The No. 1 defense, Richt said, “won just about every third down” situation Saturday against the backups. The unit also forced a field goal in an overtime situation. Richt was unhappy with Miami’s goal-line offense, which was a major reason for his frustration Friday; given a chance Saturday to score instead of kicking a field goal, the No. 1 offense was shut down. They settled for the field goal.

“We’re not very good” in that situation, Richt said, “and I don’t know if we have the personnel to do it, quite frankly. We don’t have some of the big fullbacks and tight ends that we had in the past, so I have to figure out how to score on the goal line.”

3. Defense raising everyone’s game

Memo to Manny Diaz: if you’re reading this, stop here.

The defensive coordinator has a long list of improvements his unit can make, but we on the outside can say this comfortably: Aside from maybe the third team on Miami’s schedule, the Hurricanes’ defense is likely to be the best unit the Hurricanes’ offense will face this fall.

That has led to what Richt called “the big three: turnovers, missed assignments and penalties.

“That’s all we did yesterday, and a couple days in practice — our defense has knocked out more balls than I’ve ever seen in a camp, and hey, it’s great that the [defense] is getting it, but you’ve got to secure the ball. We have not secured the ball well at all. Today, we did a much better job. We did have one get knocked out” — that was cornerback Jhavonte Dean on receiver Dayall Harris — “we’ve had way too many of those.”

One of Diaz’ major focuses this camp: creating turnovers. Consider that venture an early success. UM was 14th in turnover margin last year, but a middling 67th in takeaways.

It has been a struggle for the Hurricanes’ offense this camp, but few coaches would like to see their offense carve the defense in practice if it means it hasn’t been game-tested. And on a positive note, Miami’s coach said his offense responded Saturday to a tough week.

“We had a couple turnovers” Saturday, Richt said, “very few missed assignments that I can remember, and very few penalties.”

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