Josh Darrow brought up a great point in the latest 5 Rings: A Canes Thing podcast when mentioning Jeff Thomas.Everyone always talks about how much talent Thomas has, but having talent and being talented is different. Having the potential and being a difference-maker or game-changer are different things and I think that’s where we are with Thomas right now.
Big Time Players Make Big Time Plays
He was once thought of as the next Santana Moss type player. While he did show flashes last year, making NFL-type catches, it was tough with a mediocre quarterback throwing you the ball. Then came the quitting. It was only days after a big win against Virginia Tech, in which Thomas ran a punt back for a touchdown, that we learned he would be leaving the program. At that time it was considered a huge blow for the Canes program. How were we going to replace a player like that? He was a game-changer. Rumors and hearsay suggest his relationship with former coaches had soured a bit and it ultimately led to him leaving the program.
It’s Just a Slow Start…
Now, it seems like he has taken a step back and has not regained that moniker. He doesn’t look like the same guy. At this point in his career, we should be talking about the plays he is making, not the plays he was making. He hasn’t looked terrible (well except for the muffed punt against Florida), but he hasn’t looked great. Am I being too hard on the kid? Can we maybe just chalk it up to a slow start? Sure, but is that the “standard” these coaches are holding the players to?
If Jeff Thomas wants to be “the guy”, he needs to make catches like the one in the endzone against the Gators. As tough a catch as it may have been(and it was a great throw by Williams), those are the catches he needs to make.
What is clear to me, is that Thomas moves to the beat of his own drum. Is it possible that he lacks focus and discipline? Possibly – and maybe he isn’t who we thought he was. Teams do not fear him like they used to. That needs to change. If Jeff Thomas is not at his best then the Canes aren’t either.
Follow me on Twitter at @jazzsantana for all your Canes news and more.
For all your Canes insider news and exclusive content, check out the @5Rings_Canes podcast.
First-year quarterback Jarren Williams showed us all a few Saturday’s ago why he was chosen to lead this Miami Hurricanes team as its starting quarterback. While it did not ultimately lead to the outcome we wanted(Miami lost to #8 Florida 24-20), most Canes fans believe he is the right choice.
Coach Enos did not mince words when describing Williams and his play against Florida, saying “He did not play well enough for us to win the game.” We understand that those words were more “tough love” than anything else, and Jarren embraced it, but it wasn’t all entirely untrue. Williams had a few opportunities early in that game to break it open and could not find the open man. Although the offensive line did not play well at all, there were times where he either held on to the football too long or put his head down and took a sack.
Today, Cane Maven was at practice and listened in on what Coach Diaz and Jarren Williams had to say on what the redshirt freshman quarterback has worked on improving since his first game and if his progression has changed as a result of the Florida game:
Coach Manny Diaz says, “if we would’ve thrown a touchdown pass on the last drive and won 27-24, we would not have come in here and done anything differently.” Williams later said, regarding what had changed, “my pocket presence, you know, not watching the rush” and “every play you have to keep your eyes down the field and if you have to run, you could run”.
— Tony Capobianco (@TonyCapobianco) September 4, 2019
Follow me on twitter @jazzsantana for all the latest Miami Hurricanes news.
Check out the @5Rings_Canes podcast for your Canes insider news and analysis.
Jarren Williams is the chosen one. For now…
For the past couple weeks, Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz made it seem like picking his first starting quarterback was like picking his first Pokemon.
He’s got three: Tate Martell (Charmander), N’Kosi Perry (Bulbasaur) and Jarren Williams (Squirtle). Each of them have different talents yet each of them can get you eight gym badges an into the Elite Four.
After the second scrimmage of fall camp, Diaz chose Williams and made it public through the team’s social media channel. This in turn vaulted Williams to the top of the pecking order and elevated him into the position of leader of the locker room.
“It’s the natural thing of having the confidence of the coaching staff and the team to know you’re the guy,” Diaz said. “Which is why we made the decision, it’s why we made it public, because we just felt that would far more superseded any value in making it a surprise on Saturday.”
Williams always had the confidence in himself necessary to become a starting quarterback. However being the starting quarterback didn’t automatically make him the leader of the team.
“Jarren has always been a leader,” Donaldson said. “Ever since he came in he’s been a vocal guy, trying to communicate with the whole offense, even the whole team, trying to get us on the same page. That’s what [offensive coordinator Dan Enos] saw, I guess and he just took that stuff further now.”
“I feel like it’s a gradual process,” Williams said, “because throughout the summer and spring, my thing was I’m gonna show these guys that I’m gonna work and give everything I got for them. I go out there every day and I would give everything I had, empty the tank for them just to show them I’m gonna be a guy that you can rely on. So I feel like doing that time after time gradually built that leadership so that when I had the opportunity to be named starting quarterback, I was already in that leadership role.”
It almost didn’t came to be. Before the 2018 Pinstripe Bowl, Williams nearly transferred out of Miami. He chose to remain and even with extra competition coming in through the transfer portal and recruiting, he rose above it all and has earned his chance to lead the Hurricanes against the No. 8 Florida Gators.
“It’s very rewarding,” Williams said. “That really comes with me trusting God. I prayed about it and I know he would never lead me wrong.”
Williams said the turning point came when the team returned from an embarrassing bowl loss and Diaz quickly became the new head coach after Mark Richt announced his retirement.
“I feel like the whole mindset just started to change for everybody,” Williams said.
Williams has received texts messages from former Miami quarterbacks Stephen Morris and Brad Kaaya encouraging him going into the biggest matchup of the season.
“They really just told me to be confident and be you,” Williams said. “This is the moment you prepared your whole life for. Don’t let the moment get too big for you.”
First, we find out who was named the starting quarterback, then two players who would have seen significant playing time (CB Nigel Bethel, Jr. is the latest) decide to enter the transfer portal. What’s next, Tate Martell moving to wide receiver?
When the Canes’ announced Jarren Williams as the starting quarterback on Monday, the first thought for a lot of fans wasn’t to say congratulations to Williams on winning the battle. It was, “so what does Tate do now?” On the College Football Daily podcast, 247 Director of Scouting Barton Simmons said Martell should give take a shot at wide receiver.
It seems as though the idea may have been on Martell’s mind as well.
The New Wide-Out in Town
W.G. Ramirez, a Las Vegas-based sports writer sent out a tweet on Thursday that said Martell “former Gorman QB and three-time national HS champion Tate Martell is expected to try his hand at wide receiver.”
NOT confirmed, but per a source close to the situation, former Gorman QB and three-time national HS champion Tate Martell is expected to try his hand at wide receiver for the Miami Hurricanes.
— W.G. Ramirez (@WillieGRamirez) August 15, 2019
Nothing was confirmed at that point until yesterday evening when The Athletic columnist and Miami Hurricanes beat writer Manny Navarro sent out a tweet that said: “Have been told by a #UM source today was the first day Tate Martell experimented with playing wide receiver at Miami.” Thursday’s practice was completely closed to media by Miami.
Have been told by a #UM source today was the first day Tate Martell experimented with playing wide receiver at Miami. Not sure if the move is permanent, but he gave it a try. @TheAthleticCFB @AriWasserman @TheAthleticMIA pic.twitter.com/UKG9RQnDQW
— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) August 17, 2019
Minutes after the Navarro tweet, Miami Herald columnist Barry Jackson tweeted this, “Martell taking WR snaps in tonight’s scrimmage, am told.” The Canes’ held a scrimmage last night at Hard Rock Stadium (pray for no injuries).
Martell taking WR snaps in tonight's scrimmage, am told https://t.co/zQuMi2Okjr
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) August 17, 2019
None of us know yet if the move is permanent or if it is just an experiment, but this could be a great move.
He Looks the Part
Martell has posted some pretty fast 20-yard shuttle times in the past and is very athletic. He has even been seen in the past running routes and catching passes from other quarterbacks.
I can see Coach Enos drawing up some special packages with Martell playing both quarterback and wide receiver.
It’s almost like Ryan Tannehill is back again. But not really.
Although, guys seem to have a bit more success switching from quarterback to receiver. Some notable names: Julian Edelman, Antwaan Randle-El, and more recently guys like Josh Cribbs and Terrelle Pryor. Could Tate Martell be next?
In just 7 days on August 24th, Miami opens up its season against the Florida Gators at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. It’s showtime!
Check out the 5 Rings Canes podcast for exclusive insider content.
The dust has settled, just a bit. We all know by now that Jarren Williams has won the starting quarterback position for the Canes. He beat out the once thought to be the next big-time quarterback in N’Kosi Perry and the highly anticipated Ohio State transfer Tate Martell.
“We believe we can win with all three guys, however, we feel like Jarren has the greatest upside due to his passing ability, his instincts and his determination.” – Coach Manny Diaz on new Canes QB1, Jarren Williams.
— Manny Diaz (@Coach_MannyDiaz) August 12, 2019
Williams will see his first real action as a college quarterback on August 24th in Orlando against the top ten ranked Florida Gators. That’s a tall order for the redshirt freshman out of Central Gwinnett High School in Georgia.
Coming out of high school, Jarren Williams was a standout quarterback ranked as the 77th overall prospect and #5 Pro-Style Quarterback in the country. He improved every year at the high school level as a passer, culminating in a senior year that saw him throw for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also ran for over 500 yards.
Jarren Williams Highlights: Watch Miami's new starting QB tear up defenses in high school 🎥https://t.co/jKSlXe5hxS
— Gina Hausen (@hausen_gina) August 12, 2019
Under the Radar?
So why was it such a surprise to many that he got the nod? Maybe it was all the hype surrounding Tate Martell that made people forget about Williams? Maybe it was some saying that Perry has the most experience and needs to start? Was it the bad taste he left in everyone’s mouth when there were rumors swirling of him wanting to transfer? Either way, make no mistake about it, Jarren Williams, in terms of pure passing ability and skillset, is the best quarterback on this roster. He can make all the throws with precision and is very accurate on the deep ball.
Jarren Williams: “It means the world. This is something that I’ve always strived for growing up. It’s been my dream since I was a kid… Having the opportunity to lead this team is the opportunity of a lifetime and I am going to take full advantage of it.”https://t.co/lzJgM9eC3R
— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) August 12, 2019
Personally, I believe it was always a two-quarterback race: Williams and Martell. I think Williams ultimately won out because of his accuracy and because he took care of the football a little better than Martell. My conspiracy theory is that people closest to the program may have seen N’Kosi as part of the problem regarding last year’s team. Too many antics on and off the field may have cost him a legitimate shot at QB1. Oh, and don’t count Martell out just yet. I still expect to see him on the field in some role this year.
— Andrew Ivins (@Andrew_Ivins) August 12, 2019
At the end of the day, the question still remains. Did the Miami Hurricanes make the right decision at QB1? Will we find out in 12 days? Maybe. But when the dust clears and those pads get crackin’ on August 24th, I don’t care who is behind center, just win!
— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) August 12, 2019
Regarding the backup situation, Coach Manny Diaz said the competition is still going on to see who serves as QB2 behind Williams. Now all that’s left is for Jarren Williams to show them why they chose him as the starter.
Well, that was suspenseful.
Manny Diaz, the new coach of the Miami Hurricanes, hadn’t revealed much about the quarterback competition between holdovers Jarren Williams and N’Kosi Perry, and transfer Tate Martell.
But a day before Media Day, Diaz spilled the goods.
The winner is Williams, who nearly left the program last season, a couple of times.
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) August 12, 2019
This wasn’t a total surprise, since the chatter has been trending that way of late. Word was that Williams has been most consistent in practices, and he has the most pure arm talent of the trio.
Jarren Williams’ TD pass to Will Mallory at the end of these highlights was impressive. Looks like N’Kosi Perry had the other TD pass to KJ Osborn https://t.co/WevSmWgCen
— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) August 11, 2019
One person physically present at both scrimmages thought Jarren Williams was best in each. But that's one person's opinion of course. No way of knowing what Diaz and Enos are thinking after tonight
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) August 11, 2019
Reaction on Twitter was mostly positive.
Aye man, if Jarren is the guy, let's get him ready… Coaches know what he can and can't do… Put him in that fire, cuz he ready for the smoke! MOST IMPORTANTLY, HIS TEAM WILL HAVE HIS BACK! Let's ride Cane Fam! #TNM
— Joe Williams (@JoeSkilliams) August 11, 2019
Jarren Williams has won the starting QB spot at Miami over Tate Martell and N’Kosi Perry.
Doesn’t really shock me. Haven’t heard much positive of Martell or Perry in awhile. https://t.co/8Z0TzUL0Ws
— NCAAF 365 (@NCAAF_365) August 12, 2019
Here’s some context…
Worth recycling this @FletcherPage story from Sept. 2017 about Jarren Williams when it looked like he was Kentucky's QB of the future. Will be interesting to see if he or Terry Wilson has the better season this fall. https://t.co/e4h9Gmnk3n
— Jon Hale (@JonHale_CJ) August 12, 2019
Now we wait to see how he plays against Florida.
Can’t be worse than Malik Rosier, right?
With just 14 days remaining before the Canes head up to Orlando to face Florida, many questions still surround this team’s roster. I break down what I feel are 3 major roster questions we want to be answered by the time tonight’s scrimmage is over with.
Question #1: The Big Uglies
Let’s start with one of the biggest surprises in camp so far. Offensive lineman Zion Nelson was once thought of as a redshirt project with good skills that would need a few years to develop, especially at a very thin 240 pounds. Fast forward a few months and that 240-pound project is now weighing 290 pounds(reported by Nelson himself) and starting at LEFT TACKLE! Yes, you heard that right, LEFT TACKLE. I said to myself, Coach Barry(Offensive Line Coach) must be challenging his guys and we will see the real starting left tackle after the first scrimmage. But I was wrong. Nelson kept his job as LT1 and it seems as though it may stay that way. That means one of two things to me – this kid is really special – or we are incredibly screwed.
Two other guys to keep your eye on that could possibly get some playing time if Nelson can’t hold it down: Kai-Leon Herbert and John Campbell. Herbert was getting a lot of first-team reps at right tackle along with Campbell, who ended up starting on the right side during the first scrimmage. Look for one of those two to get the nod August 24th at right tackle.
Question #2: It’s the Muddy Badger and who?
We all know that Trajan Bandy is the leader in the Canes secondary. Bandy has the opportunity to be one of the best cornerbacks in the ACC. The question is, who will emerge as the other starting cornerback? Al Blades Jr. seems to be the front runner right now to start. He took first-team reps during last week’s scrimmage and has been atop the depth chart for some time now. However, I would not put sophomore DJ Ivey too far behind. Look for today’s scrimmage to be the one that helps solidify that spot.
The concern what’s behind those three. Young players like Nigel Bethel, Jr., Te’Cory Couch and Christian Williams will have to step up and be ready to play when their name is called. The key to this group being successful is health.
The safeties seem to be shaping up nicely. Yesterday was the first day of practice for USC transfer Bubba Bolden. The addition solidifies what is already looking like a strong group. Right now it looks like the Canes will start with Amari Carter and Gurvan Hall. Don’t be surprised if you see Junior, Derrick Smith get a lot of playing time after moving back to safety from the striker position. I’m tempted to mention Robert Knowles…nevermind.
Question #3: Who’s My Quarterback?
Who will be the Miami Hurricanes starting quarterback? I am just going to get right into it. Offensive Coordinator Dan Enos is installing a brand new offense. None of the three have played in this system before and have all had growing pains. Some days Tate Martell does a few things better than the rest. Another day N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams make some really nice throws and Tate can’t hit water if he fell off a boat. All three are doing good things and not so good things. Let’s take one thing off the table right away, experience. Those making the argument that one should get the start over the other because of experience need to stop. None of them have experience! This is a new scheme, that none have played in before. And honestly, why do fans care so much about experience? Let me know how that worked out for Tua and Sunshine. I know these guys are not Tua or Lawrence, but there are plenty of young quarterbacks in college football that help their team win.
Jarren Williams is the most accurate according to many and throws with great touch. His knock was that he wasn’t very quick on his feet until Coach Manny Diaz said he was one of the guys that ran 20 mph in testing. Can he read and dissect plays quickly?
N’Kosi Perry can spin it. He has great arm strength, can run and escape the pocket and does like to chuck it down the field. His aggressiveness has also gotten him in some trouble before. He tends to take too many risks and makes dumb throws. Has he learned the playbook?
Tate Martell is a leader. His leadership and moxie, I think, are what make Martell stand out. He doesn’t throw the prettiest ball but can get it there. In my mind, he is the best runner of the three. His lack of accuracy at times could be a cause for concern. However, his rapport with former Bishop Gorman teammate Brevin Jordan and Buffalo transfer KJ Osborn are definitely a good thing.
I have a feeling Coach Diaz already knows who his guy is at quarterback. If he doesn’t, he will know tonight. The question is, will he tell the rest of us?
LT- Zion Nelson
RT- John Campbell
Al blades, Jr. or DJ Ivey (They will split reps)
2 Deep Safety
FS- Gurvan Hall, Bubba Bolden
SS- Amari Carter or Derrick Smith (Let’s see how tonight plays out)
1- Tate Martell or Jarren Williams or N’Kosi Perry
The 2019 Miami Hurricanes football team will kick off Fall Camp this Friday, and one group in particular is in the spotlight.
It’s no secret there is open competition in the quarterback room, with three main contenders.
N’Kosi Perry, Tate Martell, and Jarren Williams are the three to watch, each has their own intriguing storyline.
Who Steps up?
There is no clear favorite one month from the regular season, so whoever emerges first may get the call in week one.
Jarren Williams has all the athletic tools and skills you look for at the position.
A top ranked recruit entering college, the 6-foot-2 red shirt freshman should get equal run in camp with his competitors under a new coaching staff.
Williams has great feet and a strong arm with solid fundamentals and footwork, and may be the most well-rounded of the three.
It remains to be seen where he lands on the depth chart, and that could determine his long term future with the program as well.
Incumbent Perry at no Advantage
N’Kosi Perry comes off of a 2018 season where he showed flashes, yet struggled with consistency.
Accuracy was the real problem for Perry as he completed just 50.8% of his attempts (97 out of 191) as a redshirt freshman.
There were a few highs during the season. In his first sustained game action in week three against FIU, he notched a career high 224 yards to go along with three touchdowns.
Perry and the team were riding high after a 5-0 start, but the wheels fell off for the quarterback in the second half.
Miami dropped three straight in ACC play and Perry managed only two touchdown passes in his final six games.
Perry has had some off field concerns as well which have called his maturity into question.
He did have a solid spring so it will be important for him to show continued poise and leadership, along with improved performance if he wants to secure the starting gig.
Martell the Wildcard
Adding competition and complication to the mix is Ohio State transfer Tate Martell, whose journey to Miami is well known.
Martell joined the Hurricanes via the transfer portal, something that sounds like a time machine.
It was suspenseful leading up to his arrival due to his transfer status, with that behind him he must prove he can take control and be the alpha.
One of the most hyped prospects nationally out of high school, Martell spent two years in Columbus but never took hold of the starting job.
His vocal leadership style and intensity are a breath of fresh air for the quarterback group and his teammates alike.
Martell seems like the type of personality that could galvanize a team. He doesn’t possess the same arm talent as Williams or Perry but has great mobility and excels outside of the pocket, traits that may suit him well under new OC Dan Enos.
Tate Martell with a perfect throw while rolling out. His ability to work outside of the pocket is definitely his strength. pic.twitter.com/Rs2J3KXQzF
— Gaboowins (@GabyUrrutia22) April 18, 2019
In one of the more wide open quarterback competitions in recent memory, each player brings his own strengths and weaknesses to the table.
On an even playing field, it may come down to intangibles to determine who wins the starting job.
It should be an interesting battle, and one that could determine the fate of the 2019 Miami Hurricanes.
Check out the 5 Rings Canes podcast for exclusive Miami Hurricanes content all year long.