Hurricanes football got its first taste of spring scrimmages April 7 at the Greentree Practice Fields, and head coach Mark Richt confirmed that nothing has changed when it comes to the quarterback competition.
“Malik is ahead of everybody as far as just knowing what to do and how to do it, there is no question,” Richt said to the media following the scrimmage. “Even throughout the week, it was very evident that if we try to run our total system, he’s more than well equipped to do it.”
Rosier and redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry – who is currently considered the clear No. 2 quarterback in the race – both got reps with the first and second teams. Rosier finished 8 for 17 for 109 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Perry completed 6 of 13 passes for 33 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
“N’Kosi is getting much better … He’s getting it and he’s seeing where having [Malik’s] experience to get us in the right play can make all the difference in winning a game,” Richt said.
Redshirt freshman Cade Weldon didn’t play because of an eye infection. Freshman early enrollee Jarren Williams went 6 for 8 for 86 yards and two touchdowns against the second-team defense.
“I’ll say this about Jarren – sometimes I use the term, ‘he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know,'” Richt said. “Sometimes he’s just back there feeling things, but when he does throw it at something, he usually hits it. I’ll say he’s learning at a very rapid pace and being here in the spring is good for him and good for us.”
Williams wasn’t the only rookie to impress coaches Saturday afternoon. Early enrollees such as defensive lineman Gregory Rousseau and defensive back Gilbert Frierson. Rousseau recorded seven tackles – five for a loss – and four sacks. Frierson had four tackles – one for loss – and an interception.
RIcht sees Rousseau as a hidden gem from the 2018 recruiting class and said if he went to a bigger name high school, it would’ve been harder to get him to Miami.
“If you see Rousseau in person, he’s tall, he’s got long arms, he’s athletic, he’s coachable, he’s teachable,” Richt said. “I think we stole one there.”
Freshman running back Lorenzo Lingard is arguably the most anticipated player of the 2018 class. He came to Miami as a five-star recruit from Orlando and the No. 2 ranked running back in the state.
But in the short term, the focus for Lingard may be more about individual development than anything else. With such a deep roster at running back, the younger players may be asked to help more in the trenches than carrying the ball, which will be a physical test.
“He’s still a little shaky on assignments, but we ask our backs to do a lot in pass protection” Richt said on Lingard, who struggled to rush the ball in the scrimmage – he had five carries for zero yards – but caught three passes for 25 yards. “It’s not easy to know who to block and how to do it, but he’s coming a long way. He picked up a beautiful blitz one time, and we scored a touchdown on it.”
Freshman wide receiver Brian Hightower is another cog in the Canes’ offensive system, and he has shown the ability to be a physical blocker and to catch footballs in traffic. Rookie Daquris Wiggins has proven his playmaking ability but is “too skinny” right now.
“Wiggins will flash … He’ll make plays, but then he’ll have issues because he’s not strong enough yet,” Richt said. “We’re putting hands on receivers about every snap, no one is getting free-access routes like you might have gotten in high school. Like I told him today, ‘You’ve got the skill set, but you’ve got to get bigger, stronger, more physical in route running and blocking.”
Sophomore wideouts Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley both had good days. Thomas caught three balls for 94 yards and two touchdowns, while Harley had two catches for 40 yards and a score.
“I think he caught some from the inside lane and some from the outside lane … He’s a pretty dynamic guy with his speed, and he’s doing a really good job,” Richt said.