No. 19 Miami starting Rosier at QB vs. Bethune-Cookman (Sep 02, 2017)
Miami, in coach Mark Richt's second season at the school, nearly had all the pieces through the offseason.
The one big hole has been at quarterback.
Brad Kaaya's early departure to the NFL created uncertainly for the Hurricanes, who still have enough everywhere else to be ranked No. 18 heading into their season-opener at home against FCS foe Bethune-Cookman in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Bethune-Cookman was 4-6 last year in an injury-plagued season.
In this game, all eyes figure to be on the replacement for Kaaya, who led Miami to a 9-4 record last season. The new guy is junior Malik Rosier, who emerged from a four-way race in camp to be selected last week as the starter.
Rosier competed against sophomore Evan Shirreffs, freshman Cade Weldon, who enrolled early in the spring, and freshman N'Kosi Perry, who made it a four-way competition when fall camp opened.
"He did stand out above the rest," coach Mark Richt said of Rosier.
"It wasn't an unbelievable amount, but it was apparent that he was having the best camp. Evan did extremely well. I felt like there was enough of a difference to feel comfortable that Malik is the guy. The young guys...they got to know what to do and own it for a while before they can really compete at a high level at that position."
Rosier is the only one of the quartet with college playing experience, which includes one start -- at Duke two seasons ago when Kaaya was sidelined due to a concussion. Rosier completed 20 of 29 passes for 272 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception, in that 30-27 victory. That's the game that will be long remembered for the eight-lateral, 75-yard kickoff return on the final play.
Rosier appeared briefly in six games last season, attempting four passes.
Rosier's camp consistency was a factor. But his initial reaction was a slight dip in his performance the next couple of days after the announcement.
"He was still practicing good," Richt said. "But up to that time he had been practicing great. So he had a day or two that was so-so. Then Sunday night he lit it up. He couldn't have thrown it any better and he couldn't have made any better decisions that he was making."
Bethune-Cookman did finish well last season, winning four in a row before dropping its finale to South Carolina State. Coach Terry Sims has Larry Brihm at quarterback; the senior started six games last season while missing almost three due to injury.
Coaches in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference voted Brihm to its third-team preseason all-conference team.
"Larry has been doing all of the necessary things in the classroom and doing what he needs to do meeting-wise, staying late at practice, he's coming early," Sims said in the Orlando Sentinel, about Brihm handling more responsibility this season.
"He's doing everything that he can with the receivers, the running backs and jelling with the O-line. He's doing everything you want a leader to do on your football team."
Wide receiver Frank Brown, defensive lineman Kevin Thompson and defensive back Diquan Richardson were preseason first-team All-MEAC selections.
Miami, picked to win the ACC Coastal Division in a vote of league media, has standouts throughout the lineup. That includes running back Mark Walton, receiver Ahmmon Richards, defensive linemen Kendrick Norton and Chad Thomas, linebacker Shaquille Quarterman and kicker Michael Badgley.
Richards has been slowed by a hamstring injury and might sit out the opener. Miami has good depth at receiver, including sophomore Lawrence Cager, who sat out last season due to injury. Freshmen Mike Harley and Jeff Thomas are also worth watching.
Miami has won all three previous meetings against Bethune-Cookman, including a 45-0 decision in 2015.
"Playing Miami is always big for our guys because we do have so many from South Florida," Sims said in the Miami Herald. "We're going to attack this thing like any other game. Some will say, 'Yeah, right,' but we have to."
The Hurricanes play at Arkansas State in the second game of the season before traveling to Florida State for a big ACC showdown on Sept. 16.
"This is going to be a great year for us; I am really excited for it," said junior offensive lineman Tyree St. Louis. "A lot of expectations come from last year with a new coach and new training staff, but now that we have a year under our belts we will be a lot better."