Miami (CBSMiami) – In the Miami Hurricanes’ 24-14 loss at Pittsburgh on Black Friday, quarterback Malik Rosier suffered defeat for the first time as a starter (11-1).
Rosier was erratic and inaccurate, missing open receivers on plays that could have been touchdowns. He completed just 44.1 percent of his passes on the day.
Despite Rosier’s struggles, it was viewed as a controversial move when head coach Mark Richt benched him for backup Evan Shirreffs midway through the fourth quarter, with Miami trailing 17-7. Miami went three and out with Shirreffs behind center, and Rosier returned for the final two series.
Mark Richt joined the Joe Rose Show with Zach Krantz on Monday morning, and explained his thought process when benching Rosier.
“Malik was struggling,” said Richt. “I have a lot of faith in Malik, but on that specific day we were leaving touchdowns and a lot of yards on the table. It wasn’t all Malik either, we had moments when guys were wide open and our line couldn’t handle a blitz.”
“He was just flat out struggling with his accuracy,” continued Richt, “and I’m like, alright, let’s see if Evan (Shirreffs) can go in there and hit his target and give us a spark. I wasn’t sitting there going, ‘he’s done for the year,’ or even done for the day. Every once in a while you need guy to sit for a second and calm down. Maybe another guy can come in and make a play or two and make a difference.”
Rose asked Richt how Rosier handled being benched.
“We buried this thing a long time ago, because we played on Friday,” said Richt. “We’re kind of past it and everyone’s in good shape. I did tweet out that Malik’s our QB because I didn’t want everyone wondering what’s going on. He is our QB. I have a lot of faith in him and I know he’ll play well.”
With Richt setting the record straight on Rosier, it’s time to put the focus on Clemson. After pounding South Carolina on Saturday, Clemson moves up to Number 1 in the AP Poll and will likely earn the same ranking from the College Football Playoff on Tuesday.
Miami fell to 7th in the AP Poll and will surely be bounced from the CFP top four. However, a victory over Clemson (which would earn Miami the ACC Championship) would more than likely propel Miami into the four team playoff.
On paper, this will be the Hurricanes’ toughest test of the season.
“The athletes that are in those (Clemson) uniforms – they’re big, strong, fast, agile, and well coached,” said Richt. “You look at the matchups physically and you know you are in for a war. Everyone is going to have a huge battle on their hands from a physical standpoint. They’re good at what they do. Obviously, they’re national champions from last year and ACC champs for a couple years in a row. They’re the measuring stick in our league and we’ve got to try and see where we’re at.”
You can listen to the full interview with Mark Richt on the Joe Rose Show above.
Kickoff for Miami-Clemson is set for 8:00 PM on Saturday, December 2nd from Charlotte, North Carolina.