Mark Richt, offering a final review of the Orange Bowl, said he didn’t fault Malik Rosier for his interceptions.
Rosier threw three in that 34-24 loss last Saturday. On a conference call Thursday, Richt spoke mainly about two.
The first, which came at the start of the second quarter with UM leading 14-3, happened when linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel shook off left tackle Kc McDermott’s attempt to cut-block him and corralled Rosier’s pass intended for Braxton Berrios. Wisconsin scored three plays later, cutting the Hurricanes’ lead to four points. After a Miami three-and-out, the Badgers scored on their next drive and never again trailed.
“Obviously if we’d have cut-blocked a little bit better, we wouldn’t have had the issue.” Richt said. “In hindsight, I don’t think it was a good call. Malik was doing what he was coached to do. … You assume guys are going to get knocked down or at least cut. He played the cut block well and made the play. That changed the momentum of the game.”
Miami pulled within 24-21 before the second interception. After UM forced a punt with 9:40 left in the third quarter, Rosier was looking for Lawrence Cager, who caught a 38-yard touchdown pass on the Canes’ previous offensive series. Cager was outmaneuvered in the end zone by cornerback Derrick Tindal, who grabbed his jersey before slingshotting into position to make a pick.
Richt felt it was “pretty obvious” Tindal “grabbed our receiver.” It was a significant swing: Miami had a chance to take a lead midway though the third quarter, but Wisconsin tacked on a field goal to make it 27-21.
“Two of those interceptions, I don’t sit there and say Malik did a poor job of those,” Richt said, adding that the third pick — UM down 10 with 1:19 to go — was catchable. “Sometimes you look at the bottom line of the interceptions and you blame the quarterback, but I don’t feel that way about those,” he said.
Miami didn’t do a good enough job of defending Wisconsin’s quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who carved the UM defense for 258 yards and four scores and was named game MVP. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said after the game players didn’t attack the Badgers at the catch point; they didn’t fight hard enough to force incompletions. Richt said Hornibrook had too much time (uncalled holds in the trenches, he and every other person in Miami colors felt at the time, were a reason. That issue wasn’t revisited Thursday).
“Long story short, Wisconsin did a great job,” Richt said. “They deserved the victory. We’ve got a ways to go. Overall I think we’ve come a long way. We’re a team that got a taste of what it’s like to be in contention for the playoffs and I think that’ll serve us well when it comes to the future and the offseason.”