Miami Hurricanes wrap up spring with no clarity in QB race

BOCA RATON — Mark Richt took a step back in time on a day when he wanted to take a step forward in his search for a quarterback.

Richt brought his University of Miami Hurricanes to his alma mater, Boca Raton High, for the final scrimmage of the spring.

Quarterback Malik Rosier (12) warms up before the Miami Hurricanes spring scrimmage in Boca Raton on April 22, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

 

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He gave Malik Rosier a good look.

He gave Evan Shirreffs a good look.

And a few others.

And despite however much Richt may have squinted, he could not spot anyone taking a stranglehold on the job. He didn’t even find anyone with a slight edge.

“I did not expect to have a clear leader when it was done but I would have been OK with it,” Richt said. “But I think we’re right about where we thought we were. If I had to say how I’d pick ‘em right now, it’s just like I’ve got them going into this spring game, kind of a co-No. 1 thing and the rest of them are kind of co-No. 3s, just fighting for that No. 3 spot.”

For what it’s worth, the White team, which included the first-team defense, won the scrimmage 24-16 over the Orange, which included the first-team offense.

Quarterback Evan Shirreffs (16) warms up as Cade Weldon (17), Augie DeBaise (20) and Malik Rosier (12) look on before the Miami Hurricanes spring scrimmage in Boca Raton on April 22, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

With so much focus and emphasis on Rosier, Shirreffs and Jack Allison, the lack of clarity is best exemplified by their combined statistics: 26-of-50 (52 percent) for 344 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. Or the fact that after the scrimmage, UM opted not to make any QB available to the media. They each seemed to take one step forward and one or two steps back.

Rosier, on the Orange team, hit Christopher Herndon with a 23-yard scoring pass and threw a 72-yard TD bomb to Ahmmon Richards. But he threw two interceptions, including one returned 78 yards for a touchdown by Malek Young, a defensive standout with two interceptions. Rosier was 8-of-18 for 169 yards.

Shirreffs, also on the Orange team, broke a scoring drought on the fifth series of the day, leading a 82-yard drive for a field goal, but had the fewest yards of the three (75), on 7-of-17 passing, with one interception.

Allison, on the White team, had the best completion percentage (11-of-15) for 100 yards and a 6-yard TD to one of the offensive stars, Santaluces’ Darrell Langham (eight catches, 57 yards, two TDs).

Toss in a few fumbled snaps and a few sacks and you get the picture. Maybe Richt’s successor to Brad Kaaya was on the field somewhere; maybe he was in the stands, since incoming freshman N’Kosi Perry was said to be in attendance.

“I know you’re going to ask about quarterbacks and I don’t know what to say, other than I thought everybody competed well,” Richt said. “I thought there were bright moments really for all of them and there was probably a moment or two that they would like to take back.

“That’s typical — but you don’t want typical. You want somebody who will make good decisions on a consistent basis.”

The defense showed no mercy. On one play, defensive back Amari Carter, of Palm Beach Gardens High, clotheslined Dayall Harris after a short reception over the middle. On another, running back Travis Homer’s short run abruptly ended when he was body-slammed by linebacker Shaq Quarterman.

“You’re just trying to make a statement — that we’re here,” said Young, who estimated he had five interceptions in three scrimmages, two of which were closed to the media.

The offense got that message, but whether it received all the messages from coaches is another matter.

“There’s a few things offensively as far as just getting lined up,” Richt said. “It’s young guys, but we’ve been doing this all spring, had to babysit them a little too much.”

Stacy Searels, the always-blunt offensive line coach, seemed peeved at the missed center-quarterback exchanges.

“The center’s got to get the ball to the quarterback,” Searels said. “If we can’t do that, we can’t do anything. One of our scrimmages was really, really bad and today we had a couple. Any of them’s bad. But it has improved.”

Which isn’t to say there weren’t bright spots, in addition to Young.

Running back Mark Walton, who complained last week about inactivity this spring, had 11 carries for 65 yards (a 5.9 average) and looked every bit like the offensive workhorse he’ll be. Walton was upstaged on the stat sheet by junior TJ Callan, who had eight carries for 79 yards, albeit primarily against backups.

Richards looked like Richards, with four catches for 112 yards, and Langham looked capable of taking some pressure off Richards this fall. Dayall Harris added six catches for 70 yards.

Defensively, Carter was a menace with 10 tackles, and Quarterman and Sheldrick Redwine added seven each.

Richt decided to hold the scrimmage at Boca High because the final phase of renovations at Hard Rock Stadium made it unavailable.

“It was very nice to be here at Boca Raton Community High School, home of the Fighting Bobcats,” he said. “I had some wonderful moments here as a player. I ran into about four or five teammates before the game today and we all look a little bit different but we’ve got the same smile, the same friendship, same bond, so that was a blessing to see all those guys.”

Coach Mark Richt at the Miami Hurricanes spring scrimmage in Boca Raton on April 22, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

UNOFFICIAL SCRIMMAGE STATISTICS

White 24, Orange 16

Scoring plays

Badgley 23-yard FG                                                                      Orange 3-0

Herndon 23-yard TD pass from Rosier (missed PAT)             Orange 9-0

Young 78-yard interception return (PAT good)                      Orange 9-7

Langham 6-yard TD pass from Allison (PAT good)  White 14-9

Baeza 25-yard FG                                                                         White 17-9

Langham 4-yard TD pass from Weldon (PAT good)   White 24-9

Richards 72-yard TD pass from Rosier (PAT good) White 24-16

 

Passing leaders

Allison (White): 11 for 15, 100 yards, 1 TDs, 1 INT

Rosier (Orange): 8 for 18, 169 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs

Shirreffs (Orange): 7 for 17, 75 yards, 1 INT

 

Rushing leaders

Callan (White): 8-79, long of 24

Walton (Orange): 11-65, long of 17

Homer (Orange): 7-24, long of 12

 

Receiving leaders

Richards (Orange): 4-112, 1 TD, long of 72

Langham (White): 8-57, 2 TDs, long of 12

Harris (White): 6-70, long of 31

Herndon (Orange): 4-48, 1 TD, long of 23

 

Defensive leaders

Carter (Orange): 10 tackles

Quarterman (White): 7 tackles, 1 PBU

Redwine (White): 7 tackles

Bethel (Orange): 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks

Johnson (White): 5 tackles

Young (White): 5 tackles, 2 INTs

Norton (White): 4 tackles, 1 sack

Perry (Orange): 2 tackles, 1 INT

State of Miami Hurricanes’ QBs: ‘Definitely not a leader’ emerging yet

In this 2016 photo, Evan Shirreffs (16) sets up to pass during a drill. Malik Rosier (12) and quarterbacks coach Jon Richt are behind him. (Miami Herald)
In this 2016 photo, Evan Shirreffs (16) sets up to pass during a drill. Malik Rosier (12) and quarterbacks coach Jon Richt are behind him. (Miami Herald)

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The University of Miami Hurricanes enter their final spring scrimmage on Saturday still searching for someone to emerge at quarterback as junior Malik Rosier and sophomore Evan Shirreffs split first-team duties.

“There is definitely not a leader,” said Thomas Brown, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. ” … Part of it is because of them being able to retain information and knowing what to do and also being able to take command. But it is going to be a long process, like we said from Day 1. I know everybody gets antsy and wants an answer immediately. And I wish I could give you one.”

Brown said Rosier and Shirreffs are learning to be vocal, coming off a year in which “probably in the back of your mind believing I am going to be the backup to Brad (Kaaya). So it is still difficult to really go out and sell out on every single snap.”

Rosier said his most significant improvements have been in shortening his release and getting a better understanding of receivers’ responsibilities.

“Sometimes you’ll see confusion, so you have got to help them out in it,” Rosier said. “And a big thing for me is leading. Just showing the guys that when I am out there that I am the guy, that I can make every play, I can make every throw, make every read.”

Rosier was frank in his assessment of the overall performance of the QBs this spring, saying there have been times passers have unleashed an “amazing ball … and then there’s times to where we just completely busted.”

Which is what Shirreffs is focusing on.

“The main thing for me has been trying to show that I am consistent,” he said. “Everyone is going to have a bad play here and there, but you have to minimize those bad plays and come back the next play and just make up for it.”

In other items Thursday:

  • Brown said redshirt junior receiver Darrell Langham has “by far” made the biggest improvement at that position. At tight end, he praised Michael Irvin II.
  • Brown said he believes RB Mark Walton is handling inactivity this spring well. Walton this week said he didn’t like being “babied,” but Brown is OK with the situation. “You want guys who want the ball in their hands but also aren’t so selfish and go into panic mode and shut down when they don’t get the football,” Brown said. “And I think he is finding that correct balance.”
  • Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said redshirt junior DL Demetrius Jackson has shown “flashes with his potential but there is so much more to it.”