Next challenge for Hurricanes offense, QB Malik Rosier? Bounce back from worst performance of season

Malik Rosier #12 of the Miami Hurricanes rushes against the Pittsburgh Panthers on November 24, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

[Hurricanes need angry players — and maybe Angry Richt — to beat Clemson]

[Richt named ACC Coach of the Year]

[Clemson rolling, Miami reeling entering title fight]

[One Miami player makes All-ACC, Diaz not Broyles finalist]

CORAL GABLES — Another week, another challenge for the Miami Hurricanes’ offense.

The unit has already found a way to fill the void starting running back Mark Walton left behind when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in early October. The group has also managed to get by with star wide receiver Ahmmon Richards playing at less than 100 percent due to nagging leg injuries.

This week, the Hurricanes will work to overcome their worst offensive performance of the season when they face Clemson on Saturday in the ACC Championship Game. Miami scored a season-low 14 points and produced just 232 yards of total offense in Friday’s loss to Pittsburgh, down from its season averages of 31.9 points and 422.9 yards per game.

“Just little things,” Richards said after Tuesday’s practice when asked what he thought went wrong against Pittsburgh. “Pretty much little things is what it comes down to.”

And quarterback play. The Hurricanes are hoping Malik Rosier can overcome his worst performance since taking over as the starting quarterback at the start of the season.

Rosier completed 15-of-34 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns, but missed plenty of open targets during the loss. The redshirt junior was eventually pulled in the fourth quarter for redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs, with head coach Mark Richt since making it clear that Rosier is the starting quarterback entering Saturday’s game against Clemson.

“I think Malik has responded great,” Richt said Tuesday. “… He knew when the game was over and we were all packing up and everything [in Pittsburgh], he knew he was our guy. He knew there was no controversy on who is going to start the game or anything like that.

“It could shake up a guy, but I think he knows that we believe in him and I do believe in him. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he gives us the best chance to win.”

Rosier has responded well this week in practice, according to his teammates and coaches.

“I feel like he has more of an edge,” Richards said of Rosier. “I feel like he’s moving around a lot more. He’s more vocal. I just feel like he has an edge to him this week. I like it.”

Offensive coordinator Thomas Brown agrees.

“This is his best week of preparation so far,” Brown said Tuesday. “Sunday night was his best night. It was our best night as an offense. Today was a great practice, probably one of the best two-a-days all year because it starts with the quarterback. When he has the right mindset, taking charge and pushing the tempo, everybody else responds.”

It sounds like Rosier has received that message.

“A lot of it had to do with me, my body language,” Rosier said on Tuesday’s ACC teleconference. “Coach Brown has a big saying that the ship follows the leader, basically saying the ship only goes as far as I go, talking about our offense. The big thing the coaches have been stressing to me is push the offense, push the tempo, get these guys going.”

But if Rosier is going to have a bounce-back performance, he’ll have to do it without one of his top targets. Senior tight end Chris Herndon, who ranks second on the team with 40 catches and 477 receiving yards, suffered a season-ending MCL injury in Friday’s loss.

So, in steps sophomore tight end Michael Irvin II in his place. Irvin, who has played in 10 games this season but has one career start, has five catches for 56 yards this year.

“He’s done a really good job at competing, working his butt off,” Brown said of Irvin. “Obviously, he has huge shoes to fill. But he’s a different tight end than Chris Herndon. He does a great job at route running and catching the ball. I think he’s up for the challenge. We’ll see.”

The Hurricanes have to hope their offense is up for the challenge, too. Clemson is ranked sixth in the country in total defense (283.3 yards per game) and fourth in scoring defense (13.6 points per game).

“This is probably going to be, by far, one of the best teams we’ve faced so far,” Brown said. “Their front four is the best that we’ve seen, might be the best in the country. … For whatever reason, we don’t respond well when we have success and nobody is talking bad about us. We do respond well when it’s prime time so far and we have a tough opponent. Hopefully we do the same thing this week.”

More Canes over here

[UM football, hoops could pull off a rare feat]

[Odds, rankings and notes entering championship week]

[Porter: Rosier must grow quickly from loss]

[5 takeaways from Miami-Pitt w/ video]

[What players, coaches said afterward]

Reader Comments 0

0 comments