After happy home start, Malik Rosier hopes to silence crowds on road

[Five things we learned from Miami-BCU]

[UM defense not gold-standard in opener]

[Photo gallery from Miami’s big opening-game win]

[Richt’s postgame comments]

[Live blog: All the action as it happened]

[Pregame notes, photos, video]

MIAMI GARDENS — Malik Rosier had a redshirt year. He sat behind Brad Kaaya for two seasons. He battled from January to August and won the starting job.

So what’s a little more waiting?

“I was kind of anxious,” Rosier recalled of watching Bethune-Cookman go on an opening drive lasting seven minutes, 35 seconds of game clock. “But you’ve got to trust your defense.”

Rosier finally strapped up his helmet and took the field with the first quarter more than half gone. Though he has plenty of room to grow, his play over the next three quarters proved to Mark Richt his trustworthiness.   

In his debut as Miami’s full-time QB1 — and his first home start — the redshirt junior from Mobile, Alabama went 17-for-28 for 217 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-13 win over the FCS-based Wildcats. He made at least two mistake throws, and looked a little unsettled early, but closed without tossing an interception as he hit nine different receivers.

“My coaches said that was great,” Rosier said. “But it’s not championship-level, it’s not what we need.”

Miami quarterback Malik Rosier (12) at the line of scrimmage in the second quarter against Bethune-Cookman at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. (Miami Herald)

A mobile dual-threat, he also gained 41 yards on four carries, including a zone-read rush of 23 yards on his first play, and a 19-yard scramble where his receiver fell down. He added an element of danger to UM’s offense the statuesque Kaaya couldn’t.

Most importantly, for Richt, he “didn’t put the ball in harm’s way,” the coach said. “I thought that was great. … Maybe he missed the first progression once or twice and went to the second, but I thought he was pretty good. His accuracy overall was good. He missed one or two that we’d like to have back, I’m sure.”

Rosier was thinking afterward about an overthrow on a deep ball to Darrell Langham and a high fastball over the head of Jeff Thomas. Those could have gone for long gains. Or, a defense as talented as some of the others on Miami’s schedule — like Week 3 opponent Florida State — could turn them into turnovers.

“In the big games those can make-or-break a drive,” he said.

This was hardly the most important game of Rosier’s career, which now includes 11 games, two starts, and five touchdown passes. He reported no pregame butterflies, not for this FCS opponent, not for a start he’s wanted for months.

“The only reason I’d ever feel butterflies is if I was scared and I feel like I prepared well,” he said. “I feel like the offensive line prepared well. I feel like we came out there and I knew we were going to dominate and that’s what we wound up doing.”

He’s off to prepare for the next game, Saturday at Arkansas State (3:30 p.m., ESPNU). As he proved on Oct. 31, 2015 in Durham, N.C., he can handle the pressure of the road.

“Road games are probably my favorite,” said Rosier, who led Miami to an upset win at No. 22 Duke in his first career start. “I love home games. I love the crowd. But sometimes when you go to away games, people are cussing at you, booing you, and by the end of the game they’re quiet. They’re not even there anymore because you done won.  That, to me, that’s the best feeling ever. They get their fans in there and they talk trash and at the end of it, we come out victorious. That’s huge. I love road games.”

There’s another road game after that, in case anyone needed to be reminded. Rosier planned to to scout that opponent Saturday night.

“I have my dad, my stepdad, a couple of my uncles down. We’ll watch the Alabama-Florida State game,” Rosier said. “I’m going to watch those guys and figure out some of the coverages they’ll  play early against Alabama and we’ll go from there.”

From here on out, it seems, Richt will go with Rosier.

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