Richt keeping mum on QB for No. 16 Miami vs. North Carolina

Hurricanes quarterback N'Kosi Perry (5) attempts a pass against the FIU Golden Panthers during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium.Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback, quarterback, who’s going to start at quarterback?

That seems to be an issue for both teams as No. 16 Miami and unranked North Carolina meet in a nationally televised contest Thursday.

Kickoff is 8 p.m. ET at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens with ESPN handling the telecast.

Miami coach Mark Richt is employing a little bit of gamesmanship as to who will start at quarterback for the Hurricanes (3-1, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) in their league opener, and he’s not really all that certain who will be behind center for the Tar Heels (1-2, 1-0 ACC).

It figures to be junior Nathan Elliott for the Tar Heels, but Richt also has an eye on sophomore Chazz Surratt. Surratt is coming off a three-game suspension and could be making his season debut. Surratt started seven games as a redshirt freshman last year but Elliott finished the season with three starts that resulted in two of Carolina’s 2017 wins.

Richt doesn’t expect there to be a major difference in the duo’s performance, but there could be subtleties in their approach.

“Every quarterback has a little different skill-set,” he said. “Every quarterback has a certain amount of pocket presence, certain amount of running ability, certain amount of accuracy.

“I don’t think the system would change dramatically, just like no matter who we play, our system is not going to change very much at all. Skill-sets are a little different. They might play one guy different than another. You just have to prepare for what they do.”

Considering Elliott is coming off his best game of the young season by far, though, it would be a major shock if he didn’t at least open the game. He completed 22 of 31 attempts for 313 yards in Carolina’s 38-35 win over Pittsburgh with two touchdowns against no interceptions.

“I think Nathan is really hard on himself,” Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora said. “He wants to please everybody, he wants to be as good as he can possibly be for his teammates and for the university and for the fans and for everybody.

“And so he puts a lot of pressure on himself and I think he probably relaxed a little bit, you know? And just said, you know what, I need to play ball.”

Elliott said he felt great coming into the game.

“I did a lot of things in the last two weeks to put myself in a better position,” he said. “I felt like for the most part I did. I was a lot more accurate. There are still obviously some things to clean up, but I thought it was a good day.”

The situation for Miami is more unsettled.

Though senior Malik Rosier has started all four games for the Hurricanes, he gave way to redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry on the third series last week — the plan going into the game, Richt said — and Perry delivered. He completed 17 of 25 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns in engineering the 31-17 victory over Florida International. Rosier never got back into the game.

But Richt was non-committal afterward on Perry’s future status and remained that way as the Hurricanes began a short week of practices.

“I’m going to continue to watch practice and let everybody know when it’s time for them to know,” Richt said. “But I’m not telling what’s happening.”

One bit of good news for whoever starts: Wide receiver Jeff Thomas, who has gotten his sophomore season off to a terrific start with 12 catches for 315 yards, 126 yards on three punt returns, and a 25.8 average on eight kickoff runbacks, was back practicing.

Thomas left the FIU game in the first quarter because of dehydration issues on the 87-degree afternoon and did not return.

“He looks good,” Richt said.

But safety Jaquan Johnson and wide receiver Ahmmon Richards missed early week workouts because of knee issues. Their status is day-to-day.




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