MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s finally game week for the Miami Hurricanes.
Mark Richt’s team will open their 2017 season this Saturday, September 2nd, at Hard Rock Stadium. Richt begins his second year as UM’s head coach. Kickoff is set for 12:30 PM between the Miami Hurricanes and Bethune-Cookman Wildcats.
Miami’s excitement is building to a crescendo.
“I can’t ever remember being a part of a team in 30-something years of football where everybody wasn’t excited to play the first opponent,” Richt said Tuesday. “It doesn’t matter who it is. It be in-conference, out-of-conference, it doesn’t matter.”
Miami faces an underdog in the Wildcats. Bethune-Cookman (MEAC Conference) went 4-6 last season. They last faced The Hurricanes in the 2015 season opener. Miami rolled to a 45-0 victory.
Much has changed for the Hurricanes since 2015. That previous Bethune-Cookman matchup was the final season opener of Al Golden’s Miami tenure. Brad Kaaya started at quarterback that day. He’s now with the Detroit Lions.
This time around, the ‘Canes face the Wildcats with Malik Rosier under center. The redshirt junior had a couple disappointing practices last week, according to Richt, before picking it up over the weekend in a big way.
“He had a day or two that was so-so,” Richt said. “And then Sunday night, he lit it up. You couldn’t have thrown it any better than he threw it, you couldn’t have made any better decisions than he was making. He practiced well again today. I saw the same thing today. He’s probably over that little feeling of, ‘How do I act now?’”
Richt spoke to the pressure Rosier will surely face as the starting quarterback at a major program and how he needs to handle it.
“He’s living it out as we speak,” noted Richt. “He’s the guy. He has to perform every day in practice. He knows he has to perform in the game.”
Richt says “it’s up in the air” if either of the true freshmen quarterbacks will see playing time this week. Miami must decide whether to redshirt N’Kosi Perry, Cade Weldon, or both. Richt wants both to keep learning and competing.
Redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs is Rosier’s backup. Only Rosier and Shirreffs are listed on Miami’s depth chart for Saturday.
With Saturday being a 12:30pm kick, the South Florida heat will be a major factor. Richt discussed these elements when detailing Miami’s Tuesday practice session.
“Well, it’s still hot as it can be,” Richt said. “It’s still a grind to practice out there in it. They have to be physically able to endure it but mentally able to endure the heat as well. So we pushed them today. We pushed them hard.”
Richt notes that battling the heat isn’t just about great conditioning, but great strategy.
“The big thing for me, especially from an offensive standpoint, is I’d like to play as many guys as I can play,” said Richt. “You beat the heat with being in great condition, but you beat the heat by substituting. I told those guys, I’m not going to substitute if you don’t know what to do. If everybody takes a turn making a mistake, that’s 11 mistakes, it could be 11 drives…that could be not good for us.”
Saturday’s clash with Bethune-Cookman will be all about smooth execution and staying as healthy as possible. Miami opens the season ranked 18th by the Associated Press, and favored to win the ACC Coastal Division.
Tune in to Miami vs. Bethune-Cookman this Saturday on 560 WQAM. Pregame coverage begins at 8:00 AM and kickoff is set for 12:30 PM.