It was not a good game for the Miami Hurricanes, and it was just as tough for quarterback Malik Rosier.
The Hurricanes entered Friday afternoon’s game against the Pittsburgh Panthers as the No. 2 team in the nation and undefeated. They left the game upset after a 24-14 loss to Pitt.
It was a huge blow for Miami, but specifically Rosier, who was actually pulled from the game midway through the fourth quarter in favor of backup quarterback Evan Shirreffs. To that point, Rosier had completed only 12-of-30 passes for 129 yards, but it was a baffling and rather gutsy decision by head coach Mark Richt, who was perhaps trying to light a fire under his quarterback — but he may have lit a controversy.
It was a show of little faith in Rosier in a big spot of the game, with Miami down only 17-7, and it led to words written like the ones below from Chris Hummer of 247Sports:
“What this decision does, at least for a week, is create uncomfortable questions Richt and the Hurricanes will have to answer: “Why did you pull Malik Roiser?” “Is he still your starting quarterback?” “What went into that decision?” “Do you still have faith in Malik?”
This could also sow doubt in Rosier’s mind – and the locker room’s. He responded well to his benching initially, but there’s little telling how a college student will react to adversity forced from within his own program. Rosier is certainly no stranger to fighting for his job. He did so in fall camp, holding off four other signal callers to earn the starting job. But, after a season of wins, this form of hardship is different. It’s a potential seed of uncertainty for a team that’s rode mostly highs throughout 2017.”
The benching could play out negatively for Miami, but in the short term Richt has at the very least come out and publicly backed his starting quarterback. Here’s what he said on Twitter after the loss:
It’s also well worth mentioned that Rosier was inserted back into the football game just a series later after Shirreffs went 0-2 with two tipped passes and a sack against him. Richt went right back to Rosier, who ended the game with two touchdown passes, but he just couldn’t bring Miami all the way back for a win.
Ultimately, the one loss shouldn’t hurt the Hurricanes in the CFP race. They match up next with Clemson in the ACC Championship game and with both teams having only one loss, the winner should end up making the CFP.
Miami’s championship hopes still remain, and those hopes seem to ride partially on the shoulder pads of Rosier.