CORAL GABLES — Malik Rosier is the man Miami trusts most at quarterback.
But he’s not The Man.
“Until somebody takes it over, he is the man,” quarterbacks coach Jon Richt said. “He knows that. He’s trying to act accordingly. I say that, but you know, he’s got to come out and be the man. … We’re trying to get him to be the man.
“He’s got to be a better version of himself, but he doesn’t necessarily need to become someone else.”
Richt, speaking to reporters for the first time this spring, said Rosier has the lion’s share of responsibility in running UM’s offense, which he did for 13 games last year. Richt sounds encouraged and impressed with talented redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry, but both Perry and Rosier are a little jumpy for his liking. He was diplomatic when asked if Perry was pushing redshirt senior Rosier for the starting job. He said Perry and the others — true freshman Jarren Williams and redshirt freshman Cade Weldon — are doing so, but happily, “Malik is pushing Malik.”
Richt also said his quarterbacks took a step forward and a step backward Tuesday.
“We might have messed up more today, we might have thrown more picks, but we got after it, too,” he said. “It was a better day overall.”
Perhaps the spring game (6 p.m. Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium) will provide more specifics.
UM, like most teams, is unlikely to show much play-calling pizzazz in its only public session of the spring. But it will be a first look at an offense that sagged at the end of last season and has started slow this spring. Rosier and Perry, who ran with the first and second string offenses, went a combined 14-of-30 on a short field in last Saturday’s scrimmage, the first of camp. Protection was part of the issue, as UM continues to search for a replacement at right tackle and left guard.
Rosier’s accuracy, a major issue last year (44.9 completion percentage in his final three games, all losses), is still a work in progress. Without mentioning the line specifically, Richt said his quarterbacks didn’t always trust their protection in the first scrimmage.
“Some of it’s us, and some of it’s other things,” Richt said. “We have to learn that when we have a perfect pocket, we’ve got to trust it every time. That’s one thing we didn’t do on Saturday. They got to us a few times, and I think it got to us mentally. We were rushing throws, we were doing things we don’t normally do. We have to understand that the next pocket is going to be perfect, and we have to trust it, trust our O-line … and be able to rip the ball when the opportunity presents itself.”
Asked if Rosier, when he does have a clean pocket, is more accurate than last year, Richt didn’t say yes.
“Everybody’s better when they have a clean pocket,” he said. “We’ve just got to be able to take advantage of it when we have it.”
As for Perry, the 6-foot-4, 185-pound former four-star recruit, Richt said he is trying to settle down.
“He’s starting to understand what the defense is doing and maybe making some adjustments to get us in a better play,” Richt said. “He’s got to learn to be confident in the plays he’s making. … He’s learning these things, but he’s thinking a lot. We want him to relax and play ball.”
While on the move, however, Perry’s talents shine. “He can make it a little bit nerve-wracking for a defensive coach, because he can take off and run for 20 or 25 like he did in the scrimmage, or sit back there and rip the ball 50 yards downfield on the run,” Richt said. “He’s a talented guy when he’s on the move.”
But UM, Richt said, wants Perry to be “more of a passer than just an athlete.”
“I’m satisfied with all my guys,” he said. “But at the same time, there’s a difference between just doing what you’re supposed to do and doing what you have to do. We’re learning what we’ve got to do to win. Right now some of the young guys like Jarren, Kosi, those guys are figuring out, hey, on this play, I’ve got to ‘Mike’ this guy and read this guy and throw it to that guy. Whereas Malik, we give a little bit more responsibility to. At the same time, there’s things we have to do to win, that we’re still learning how to do as far as leadership and just being an accurate passer.”
* Though a UM spokesperson tried to get him to stop, coach Mark Richt skipped his usual Tuesday chat with reporters. The explanation given: two of his old teammates stopped by, and he had to spend time with them. UM said Richt may address reporters Thursday, in advance of the spring game.
* Former UM safety Ed Reed and ESPN analyst Desmond Howard, a Miami resident, watched practice.