Miami head coach Mark Richt is looking for a replacement for three-year starting quarterback Brad Kaaya. The Hurricanes’ scrimmage on Saturday is a big step in that process.
Mark Richt is overseeing his second spring practice at Miami, and it’s one of the most important group of sessions in his young tenure.
The second-year Hurricanes head coach is trying to find a replacement for three-year starting quarterback Brad Kaaya, who is taking his talents to this spring’s upcoming NFL Draft. The ‘Canes have a scheduled scrimmage this Saturday, and it’s become an important one in the eyes of Richt even though it is the first of the spring.
Enough stock is being put into Saturday’s event in Coral Gables that Richt is pondering allowing his quarterbacks to take hits from full-speed-ahead Hurricane defenders. And that’s a rarity in today’s world of college football, where QBs are typically protected during practices. But Richt wants to see how his inexperienced group of signal-callers handles the adversity.
“My plan right now, which is a little bit different, is to let the quarterbacks have a normal jersey and play ball,” Richt said. “Is it a sack, is it not a sack? In a normal scrimmage, we don’t know. This scrimmage, if I don’t chicken out, we’ll know if it’s a sack or not. We’ll know if a guy makes a move and gets five yards, or if he gets tackled and fumbles the ball, or if he secures the ball or whatever it may be. It’ll look more like a true game on those snaps because we’re going to let the quarterbacks play ball.”
The participants battling to replace Kaaya include 6-foot-1, 216-pound redshirt junior Malik Rosier, 6-foot-5, 216-pound redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs, 6-foot-5, 200-pound redshirt freshman Jack Allison, 6-foot-2, 205-pound redshirt junior Vincent Testaverde and 6-foot-3, 212-pound true freshman Cade Weldon. If Richt and the offensive staff indeed make their quarterbacks live, they will have a chance to see how each one responds when under pressure from coordinator Manny Diaz’s defense. The scrimmage will be closed to fans and members of the media, but Richt is scheduled to address the media afterward.
The longtime Georgia head coach, who went 9-4 with a win over West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl in his first season leading the Hurricanes, told reporters that there has been separation between his quarterbacks, but he did not say who is leading the pack. Rosier, however, has reportedly looked the most comfortable, which is not surprising. The strong-armed thrower is the most experienced of the bunch, having passed for 370 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in his career. His most extensive action came in a win over Duke in 2015, when he went 20-of-29 passing for 272 with two scoring throws and a pick filling in for Kaaya. Hurricane fans probably best remember that game for the wild eight-lateral kickoff return for a score that made the win over the Blue Devils possible.
Saturday’s scrimmage for the ‘Canes is the first of three this spring, with the others coming the following two Saturdays. The final one, which is scheduled for April 22 at Boca Raton High School, will serve as a de-facto spring game.
“How are you going to react when you get hit in the mouth and then you have to get up for the next play?” Richt asked. “Can you stand in there and throw a strike and then somebody hits you? That’s part of being a pocket passer. We will throw out of the pocket.”
Richt maintains that he will not make a decision on a starter until fall camp, when four-star recruit N’Kosi Perry will have a chance to get some reps. It will certainly be quite a challenge for Perry to win the job, though, after missing spring ball. However, the positive for the youngster is that he won’t have to worry about getting hit by Hurricane defenders on Saturday.