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Miami Still Has a Quarterback Problem

By Dave Holcomb
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N'Kosi Perry appeared to be the answer two weeks ago, but after Miami’s second defeat Saturday, Mark Richt is headed back to the drawing board.

Following early struggles in the passing game this year, Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt turned to freshman quarterback N’Kosi Perry to save the team’s season. He appeared to be the answer two weeks ago, but after Miami’s second defeat Saturday, Richt is headed back to the drawing board.

And he’s going to be hard pressed to find the right answers there.

Perry and last year’s starting quarterback Malik Rosier both played Saturday night, but together, the two signal callers produced one touchdown drive and threw three interceptions. Behind those three giveaways, Virginia knocked off No. 16 Miami, 16-13, on Saturday night.

With the victory, the Cavaliers avenged their loss to Miami from last season and earned their first victory against a Top 25 opponent under coach Bronco Mendenhall. Virginia led Miami, 28-14, in the third quarter last year, but the Hurricanes scored the final 30 points to win by more than two touchdowns.

There wasn’t a memorable Miami comeback Saturday. Virginia scored 10 of its 16 points off the three Miami giveaways, which proved to be the difference in the game. The Hurricanes also forced three turnovers, but the Miami offense tallied only three points on the possessions following those takeaways.

The Hurricanes defense arguably had their best game. They held Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins to under 100 passing yards (4.4 yards per attempt), no touchdowns while intercepting three of his passes.

Virginia’s running game wasn’t much better, as it averaged only 3.4 yards per carry. In all, the Cavaliers barely recorded 3.7 yards per play.

But thanks to a putrid quarterback display, the Hurricanes are essentially out of the running for the College Football Playoff.

Perry experienced his worse day as a starter, completing only three passes for 20 yards and two interceptions. Rosier came on in the second half to average 7.4 yards per pass and rushed for a touchdown.

But a Rosier interception on a promising drive late in the fourth quarter kept Virginia ahead by two scores. Miami would only have one more drive following that mistake.

It’s anyone’s best guess where the Hurricanes will go from here behind center. After Saturday, Rosier seems to again be the quarterback that gives Miami the best chance to win, but Perry is still the long-term solution.

Inconsistent freshman quarterbacks are quite common, and remember, this was only Perry’s third start against a Power 5 team. Letting Perry play, learn from his mistakes and develop may be the best thing for Miami’s future. That’s especially true now that the playoff is out of reach.

However, an ACC Coastal division crown, and even a conference championship, aren’t, and the margin of error is slim with Virginia Tech staying undefeated with a late win against North Carolina on Saturday. Richt could start Rosier in the hopes of running the table, getting back to the ACC Championship and taking another run at Clemson.

But with Rosier’s own inconsistency problems, that decision comes with its risks too.

The only thing clear about Miami’s quarterback situation is the position’s uncertainty for Richt.

As for Virginia, this was an ugly win, but without a doubt, the biggest during the Mendenhall era. It improves the Cavaliers to 2-1 and moves them into a three-way tie for second in the Coastal with Miami and Pitt. And in the event Virginia finishes tied with Miami, the Cavaliers would own the tiebreaker.

In what’s becoming one of the strangest years for ACC football in recent memory, anything appears to be possible.