ESPN analyst has one way Malik Rosier can stop ‘streaky’ play; Richt likes new O-line combo, spring game notes

Malik Rosier rushes for extra yardage against Florida State in 2107. (Butch Dill/Getty Images)

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ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit called three Miami games last year. He was in the booth for Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and the ACC Championship against Clemson. That alone gave him enough material to form a detailed opinion on Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier.

No analyst worth his tailored suit works off what they see live. Herbstreit’s film study of Rosier extends beyond those outings. His review of UM’s starter: some good, some bad.

“There were times, especially early in the year, you’d watch him get into some lapses,” Herbstreit said. “He was very streaky. Then in the fourth quarter, I remember the Georgia Tech game, then there was another game, where he put together some big drive and big plays, and then it’s like, ‘This is what this young man is capable of doing.'”

Herbstreit, who played quarterback at Ohio State, may have been thinking of Florida State, where Rosier shook off a poor first half to lead Miami to its first win over FSU in seven seasons. In the final 6 minutes, 55 seconds, he drove twice for the go-ahead score, including a winning 23-yard touchdown to Darrell Langham with six seconds left.

“Go back and look at the Virginia Tech game, he was very decisive in his decision-making, whether it’s getting the ball out, or recognizing on quarterback zone-read and draws, that the linebacker was out of there,” Herbstreit said. “How many times did we see him follow his center quickly, and make quick decisions, and pick up huge yards? Then there were times against Pitt, where he just kind of lethargic and didn’t have the fire he played with earlier.”

That’s an issue coach Mark Richt has been trying to solve.

“You wish he didn’t wait until the last second to get it done,” Richt said Wednesday on WQAM, using the same word — “streaky” — to describe Rosier’s play. “We all know that,” he said.

In a heated quarterback battle this spring, Rosier remains “way out in front,” Richt said. The reason is his experience. Despite his flaws, he can read defenses and communicate necessary changes to his teammates at a level younger challengers N’Kosi Perry, Cade Weldon and Jarren Williams cannot. He has started 14 career games (all but one last year), thrown 476 passes and rushed 147 times. The other three combined: zero, zero and zero.

For that reason, Herbstreit assumes Rosier will hold onto the job. Whether it’s him or someone else, Miami will “have to really tighten up” at quarterback to improve off last year’s 10-3 season.

“They’re going to recruit tremendous skill around that position,” Herbstreit said. “They’re going to have great linemen, they’re going to have a great defense. To get to a playoff and a national championship, you’ve got to get consistent play at that position.”

Herbstreit’s advice for Rosier: increase his knowledge and make quicker decisions.

“Not just throwing with the receivers, I would be looking at so much film,” he said. “Studying coverage and understanding, here’s our answer to this, here’s our answer to that. When I watch NFL and college football, and watching guys like [Oklahoma’s] Baker Mayfield, I’m convinced more and more” winning quarterbacks “have done so much preparation that they have an answer for everything you do. If you’re going to disguise your coverage, or blitz late, he’s going to see it and boom, he doesn’t have to think about it, he has his answer.

“Malik has shown he has great physical attributes to bring to the table, but he’s got to take that next step and figure out what teams are going to do to him, and make them pay for it.”

Richt likes the line: Richt was digging around and saw something shiny. Maybe not gold, but some kind of precious metal. Something worth excavating.

“We might have the combination,” he said. “We’re going to see.”

At Tuesday’s practice, offensive line coach Stacy Searels shifted right guard Navaughn Donaldson to right tackle. In his place, he put redshirt junior Hayden Mahoney (174 snaps last year, mostly at right guard). Richt was encouraged by how those two meshed with left tackle Tyree St. Louis, left guard Jahair Jones and center Tyler Gauthier.

“We liked it,” Richt said. “Navaughn, we always thought, sooner or later, he would move out to tackle. He was doing so good at guard. We didn’t want to move him. We thought we might have some answers out there, but part of the reason we had so many sacks was we just couldn’t even get off of the snap. Those young, long, fast ends were just running right by us and not even getting touched. We had to make a move there.

“If that holds up, that would be good for us. We’d have a lot of veteran guys with a lot of experience. The guys behind them, we’ve got some good young linemen, but you’d hate to rely on true freshmen if you don’t have to. I’m not sure we have a true, true left tackle in the program, so in recruiting, we’ll definitely have to find that guy that could be that left tackle.”

Over the edge: If that combo excels this season, partial credit goes to Greg Rousseau. The freshman defensive end roasted the right tackles (including former first-stringer George Brown Jr.) for four sacks and seven tackles in last week’s scrimmage, exposing weaknesses to the point “we could hardly get a ball off,” Richt said. The coach wanted to “temper” expectations about Rousseau, from Hialeah-Champagnat. But he believes the “6-6, if not 6-7,” 225-pound defensive end can play a role this fall.

“If you put a grown man, who’s a third- or fourth- or fifth-year tackle, who’s a baller in our league, he’s probably going to have a rough time with that cat at the beginning,” Richt said. “In time, he’s going to be something special.”


Noteworthy: Richt said UM won’t kick off after spring-game touchdowns, and will punt with no rush. The first offense and second defense will be on the same team, and the second offense will join the first defense. He said one team will be called “Team Carol,” and the other will be “Team Soffer,” after Carol Soffer, whose family donated $14 million toward UM’s indoor practice facility. … Will the Turnover Chain make an appearance? “I don’t know. I just thought of that.” … Parking lots open at 3 p.m., gates open at 5, kickoff (well, ball-spotting at the 25 yard-line) is at 6. There’s also a canned food drive, Richt said, benefiting Grove Outreach, a Coconut Grove food bank. … Richt on NFL-bound tight end Chris Herndon: “He’s the best blocking tight end I’ve ever been around. He’s going to be a pretty good pro.” …  On WQAM Tuesday, sophomore running back DeeJay Dallas dropped a few good lines. First, about the game: “Football’s like water to me. I’ve got to have it.” On Miami: “Our offense is high-tempo, up-tempo. I feel like this year, I like us over anybody.” On his new roommate, 6-6, 350-pound Donaldson: “He’s bigger than the refrigerator.”

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