Rosier sparks No. 18 Miami in rout of Bethune-Cookman
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — It didn’t take long for Malik Rosier to show what a difference he might make to Miami’s offense in 2017.
On his first play from scrimmage in his second career start, the junior quarterback sprinted 23 yards up the right sideline, demonstrating a running skill set that his predecessor, Brad Kaaya, a traditional pocket passer, lacked the past three years.
Rosier had a 15-yard scamper on the first play of the third quarter and later had a 5-yard gain after escaping a pass rush as Miami cruised to a 41-13 victory over Bethune-Cookman on Saturday afternoon in the season opener for both teams.
He ended the day with 41 yards on four rushes and also passed for 217 yards and three touchdowns, going 17 of 28 with no interceptions in a little over three quarters.
“He handled the game well and his decisions, I thought, were pretty darn good,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. “I thought the fact that he never put the ball in harm’s way was great. I thought he mostly made the right decision.”
Rosier had completions of 46 yards to Darrell Langham, 33 to Lawrence Cager and 22 to Braxton Berrios. Berrios’ catch was good for a touchdown. Langham and Cager had 5-yard touchdown receptions.
The Hurricanes (1-0) outgained the visitors 555-350 in total offense, amassing a 322-121 advantage on the ground behind junior running back Mark Walton, who rushed for 148 yards and two scores, and sophomore Travis Homer. Homer had 103 yards on just 11 rushes and two receptions for another 25.
The Wildcats (0-1) did have some success with their passing game. Quarterback Larry Brihm completed a fourth-down pass on his first series to keep alive a drive that resulted in a field goal and a quick 3-0 lead. He completed his first nine attempts and wound up going 22 of 35 for 212 yards before being relieved early in the fourth quarter.
“I was just taking what they were giving me,” Brihm said. “I was just taking it one play at a time, and just go on from there.”
Miami’s touted defense had been hoping to hold its lower-division foe to fewer points.
“We can take it both ways,” Miami linebacker Shaquille Quarterman said. “The fact they did put up points against us brings us back down to earth. Since the offseason, the media and everybody else was talking about how great this defense is. Well, we have to realize that it’s up to us to make the shutout, so we have to go out there and do it.”
Richt noted, however, that it was just “one game.”
“I’m sure those guys aren’t totally excited,” he said of the defense, “and we’re not on offense, either.”
In fact, penalties often hurt the Wildcats as much as good plays from the Miami defense. They were flagged 13 times for 101 yards.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a few times,” Bethune-Cookman coach Terry Sims said. “We really didn’t execute and do the things that we’re taught to do all four quarters. We were spotty, and we’ve got to go back and clean that stuff up.”
The Hurricanes responded to the Wildcats’ opening drive with scores on four consecutive series to go up 24-6 at the half. Miami extended its lead to 38-6 in the third quarter before the Wildcats scored their only touchdown, cashing in on a 75-yard touchdown drive that was kept alive by a delay-of-game penalty that nullified a Miami interception.
NOTES: After expectations of temperatures near 90 or above, it was only 78 degrees at game time under partly cloudy skies and only a slight wind. Humidity was 88 percent, and the sun broke through in the second quarter. ... Miami’s 92-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter actually covered 96 yards because it started with a penalty for a false start on the first play. ... Miami junior running back Mark Walton recorded his seventh career 100-yard rushing game by late in the second quarter. He had 124 yards on 12 carries in the first half. ... Bethune-Cookman punter Javaunie Francis averaged only 39.8 yards on five attempts but had the punt of the day in the second quarter, a 61-yarder that virtually was all carry, taking one high bounce before stopping dead at Miami’s 8-yard line.