With a 15-game winning streak and No. 2 ranking, Miami entered its Nov. 24, 2017 against Pittsburgh with the most swagger of any team in the nation.
And then, things fell apart—unranked Pittsburgh toppled its conference rivals, and the Hurricanes dropped their remaining two contests to finish the season.
Miami began 2018 with similarly high expectations, opening at No. 8 and as ACC Coastal favorites. However, the Hurricanes’ struggles extended to this season, with the team stumbling to a disappointing 5-3 record, including losses to Virginia and Boston College in its most recent games.
The primary reason for Miami’s woes is its lackluster offense, as the team averages only 14.7 points in its losses. Specifically, quarterback play is a problem, and a starter controversy arose between the incumbent Malik Rosier and redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry.
Although Perry has won two of the three games in which he was the primary signal caller, the Hurricanes’ head coach Mark Richt is sticking with Rosier for this week’s matchup against Duke.
Rosier’s greatest strength as a quarterback comes in his mobility, which gave the Blue Devils fits in the last matchup. Here, the Mobile, Ala. native decides to run it on a run/pass option, picking up 13 yards around the right edge. In addition to his 45 yards and a touchdown on the ground, Rosier also torched the Duke defense with his arm, and his 162.6 passer rating was his second-highest total of 2017.
This season, Rosier cannot seem to find similar levels of success in the pocket. The Hurricane signal caller is worse this season in comparison to 2017 in completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown-to-interception ratio and passer rating.
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This play is an example of poor decision-making from Rosier, who throws an interception to Boston College’s Taj-Amir Torres. The route was tightly covered, and Rosier would have been much better off cycling to his next read. This marked the second consecutive Miami drive culminating in an interception, and the Eagles scored 10 points off Rosier’s turnovers.
Rosier’s issues in the air do not extend to his rushing ability, as he has six touchdowns and is averaging more yards per carry than in 2017. Although he runs to the left instead of the right, this is a near identical play to the first down run against Duke shown above. Rosier is clearly an expert at reading the option and is a serious threat to run the ball.
The Blue Devil defense will need to contain Rosier as a rusher this week, something the unit struggled with against Virginia and Pittsburgh—Bryce Perkins and Kenny Pickett, each team’s respective quarterback, combined for 137 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns.
This responsibility primarily falls on the shoulders of the linebacker corps. Joe Giles-Harris, Duke’s leading tackler, and Ben Humphreys, who hopes to return to game action in Miami, will certainly be busy with Rosier Saturday.