The Miami Hurricanes ended 2017 on a low point, dropping their final three games after winning their first 10.
And on the first day of spring practice March 20, redshirt senior quarterback Malik Rosier, who started all 13 games for the Hurricanes last season, made sure people knew how much that finish still bothers and drives him.
“It pisses me off,” said Rosier, who threw for 3,120 yards, 26 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and completed 54 percent of his passes last year. “That is not how we wanted to end it … That’s not how you want to end any season. We have a point to prove. We have a lot of guys back, so if we don’t come in and dominate the ACC, something is wrong.”
With the Canes back on the Greentree Practice Fields for the start of the spring season – and the Indoor Practice Facility being built in the background – coach Mark Richt was excited to see his team on the gridiron.
“I thought we competed really well,” Richt said. “It’s just fun to come out here and most everyone knows what to do … I was pleased with what I saw on day one.”
There are questions as to who will start at multiple positions on the roster. Richt and his staff will try to find an answer this spring with the departures of key players Mark Walton, Braxton Berrios, RJ McIntosh, Kendrick Norton and KC McDermott, among others.
During the offseason, Richt repeatedly backed Rosier as the starting quarterback, however the redshirt senior will have to fend off competition from the athletic redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry, as well as redshirt freshman Cade Weldon and freshman Jarren Williams.
“I’m big on competition,” offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. “Every spot is open. I don’t care what you did last year. It’s been the same since we’ve been here. Spring time, summer time, fall camp – you can get beat at any point.”
Rosier is determined to once again earn the spot as Miami’s primary signal caller and lead the team back to the top of the conference. He is locked in to make sure there is a different result this time around.
“Last year, I was feeling teams out,” Rosier said. “I was understanding the offense. This year, I’ve got a good grasp of it. I’ve got to come out here and lead. I’ve got to show guys that I am the guy. I’ve got to take us to the ACC Championship Game again, and this time win it.”
In order to hold off the rookies, Rosier will have to improve upon his most glaring weakness.
“Being more consistent is the biggest thing,” Brown said. “If you look at his great plays from last year, he can be one of the best in college football. He can be, when he’s on and hitting his target.”
“They’re pushing me a lot,” Rosier said. “The big thing with N’Kosi [Perry] is he’s very athletic. There’s a couple plays where the defense got us. They ran the coverage for the right play, and you’d see N’Kosi break the pocket and get eight, nine yards, which is exciting to see. He’s an explosive kid. And you can finally see him starting to understand the offense, not just doing it right, but understanding why he’s doing what he’s doing. That’s really nice to see.”
Brown was impressed with Perry’s development compared to when he first stepped on campus. The 6-foot-4 dual-threat quarterback has gained 10 pounds of muscle since then.
“Obviously he’s a lot more relaxed,” Brown said. “When he came in as a freshman, there were high expectations for him.”
The Canes could also shuffle the men on the offensive line, including George Brown Jr.
“Watching him work today, you can tell he’s a different kid than he was in the fall,” senior offensive lineman Tyler Gauthier said about Brown. “He got in the weight room this year. He got a little heavier, a little stronger. His footwork looks really good.”
Gauthier has also seen strides made by Navaughn Donaldson, who, as a freshman, was crucial to protecting the quarterback in 2017.
“He’s more in tune after playing a full season,” Gauthier said. “He makes calls up there with me when we’re getting ready to run the play. It’s definitely good to see.”
The Canes continue spring practice on Thursday, March 22.