The first big decision of Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz’s tenure has been made. Jarren Williams earned the starting job at quarterback for the season opener against the Florida Gators in Orlando.
For the past two seasons, the University of Miami has struggled to field a successful offensive unit, and that has largely been on the inconsistencies at the quarterback position. However, redshirt freshman Jarren Williams is exactly what the doctor ordered.
The battle for the starting job has been a long process through the offseason, especially since the spring, between three players.
Williams was named the starting quarterback after the team’s second scrimmage, where he impressed Diaz and offensive coordinator Dan Enos. He beat out redshirt sophomores N’Kosi Perry and Tate Martell.
One of the biggest stories from the end of the competition has been Martell and if he will stick around. However, it has not focused on what the true story is: Jarren Williams is a gifted passer and gives this team a really good shot to win games with his ability to throw the ball.
During both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the biggest weakness of the Hurricanes was consistent accuracy from quarterbacks Malik Rosier and N’Kosi Perry. And with the weapons this team has had, that is a huge deal. Having a quarterback with the passing ability of Williams could be huge for the offense.
The most important thing from the position right now is the ability to get the ball into the hands of the playmakers. The season won’t go well if Jeff Thomas, Brevin Jordan, and many others can’t touch the ball. That was the Hurricanes’ biggest issue last year without a pure passer and why Mark Richt’s offense never seemed to work.
The focus should now be on the possibilities of Williams leading the offense. Enos has unlimited weapons at his disposal at wide receiver, tight end, and running back. And now they have a QB1 who has the ability to spread the ball around through the air.
With his pure passing ability, I think Williams has the greatest upside because we can count on the easy passes unlike the last two years. Though he may not be the biggest threat to run, he is also capable of picking up yards on the ground as well.
But we have to take into account that being named the starter during fall camp doesn’t necessarily mean he will be a Heisman Trophy finalist or anything. But his decision to stay in Coral Gables and compete with Perry and Martell tells me a lot.
In December, Williams was considering entering his name into the NCAA Transfer Portal, but was talked into staying by Richt. That was even before Martell had announced his decision to bring his talents south. And when that happened, Williams still stayed. He wants to be the guy in Miami and was willing to stay and put in the hard work for it. I will take that in my leader all day.
One of the quotes from Diaz that stood out to me was when he said the offense was still plagued by a disease that has existed for years now. So they needed a new guy to change the culture. The team rallying around Williams as a player who can get the ball to the receivers who have lacked touches could easily change things.
A huge concern heading into the Florida game is experience. Williams, a redshirt freshman, has attempted just three passes in his college career against Savannah State last season. He also rushed for two yards and a touchdown in his only action of his first season in Miami.
But the good news is that Williams does have more than enough talent to lead the offense. Coming out of high school, he was a consensus four-star recruit from Central Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He was the fifth-ranked pro-style quarterback by 247Sports and the 77th overall player. He was also a participant in the US Army All-American Game.
A big focus so far has been if the other quarterbacks are willing to stay and continue working as well. Perry and Martell could each transfer and probably be the best quarterback on dozens of teams across the country if they chose to seek a starting role instead of backing up Williams. But they could both get opportunities due to injury or poor performance once the season starts.
Martell has transferred once already, moving on from Ohio State once Justin Fields announced he was leaving Georgia for the Buckeyes. Missing the first practice after the announcement has definitely not helped the situation. But Martell and Perry can still battle for the backup spot, which can be just as important.
With Enos bringing in a new offensive staff and system, the offense should improve anyway because the last two years were just painful to watch with the schemes. Diaz has said the work of Dan Enos has led to tremendous improvements from all three quarterbacks, and that is huge.
Diaz has said he doesn’t want to flip back and forth between quarterbacks and wants to stick with one guy, the opposite of what happened last year. Enos echoes that same ideal when asked if Williams has a short leash.
If he thought he would be pulled after just one or two mistakes, he would play a little scared and too safe, so having his coaches behind him 100 percent is extremely important.