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Canes Coastal Dreams Likely In Rozier's Hands

By J.T. Wilcox | Staff Writer

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- The word "coastal" has been a hot button all year for Miami.

It's been spewed – almost ad nauseam – this season.

The Hurricanes want to win the ACC Coastal division – something the program has never done since it joined the conference in 2004.

Miami has never won an ACC conference championship either.

Before he was relieved of his duties as the Hurricanes' head football coach, Al Golden frequently said it was the team's goal to win the Coastal. Even down to his final postgame press conference, Golden was all-in on winning the seven team division.

"We're in a five-game playoff," Golden said after Miami's 58-0 loss to Clemson a week ago. "The Coastal is still in front of us."

That five-game playoff begins Saturday when the Hurricanes take on the No. 22 Duke Blue Devils (6-1, 3-0 ACC Coastal) in a 7 p.m. (ESPNU) showdown at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Trying to rebound and regroup following the worst football loss in school history is difficult enough, but Miami (4-3, 1-2) just couldn't seem to catch a break this week.

Golden's dismissal came the next day following the Clemson loss and the school named former assistant coach Larry Scott the interim coach.

Any coaching change always creates more questions than it answers, but Scott's familiarity with the team and the players' support of him could've buoyed the squad.

Then the team was dealt another blow when it got word that the mother of junior cornerback Artie Burns passed away early Tuesday morning. Burns missed Tuesday's practice, but returned Wednesday and said that Saturday's game will be "his greatest effort".

And just when Miami tried dust itself off a bit, news broke Wednesday of the arrest of senior defensive lineman Michael Wyche. Wyche, who was playing sparingly this season, was charged with domestic battery charges and was swiftly suspended from the team – indefinitely.

Senior captain Dallas Crawford said that the team would stay together though.

"We can take, we can take it," Crawford said Tuesday when asked about all of the adversity the team has faced in short period. "It's a sad situation. It feels like we haven't gotten good news in a while. But we have to battle through the adversity. This will define us as a team…and at the end of everything it will make us better young men."

"It's a lot on us very quick. But we have the support of the whole building and we have each other," Crawford added.

The last factor that has come more and more to the forefront as the week has progressed is the health of sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya.

Kaaya left during the first half of the game against Clemson with concussion symptoms and was unable to return after failing the concussion protocol tests on the sideline.

The ACC's leading passer has not practiced all week and is listed – very optimistically – as questionable on the team's injury report.

No timetable has been set on Kaaya's return. Concussion recovery tends to be relative – requiring plenty of rest and as much time away from mentally-exerting activities.

Sophomore Malik Rosier has been taking all the first team reps in practice this week and appears to be on track to make his first career start at the collegiate level.

Playing in place of Kaaya last week, Rosier completed just 7 of 22 passes for 42 yards and threw a pair of interceptions in just over two quarters of action.

The extensive work with the first team offense should help Rosier as he prepares to face a Blue Devils defense that ranked no. 4 in the country statistically – allowing a mere 150 passing yards per game and has only given up six scoring passes all season.

"I am preparing as the starter," Rosier said. "I know Duke is smart. They're a very smart team. We have to be smarter than them…we can't beat ourselves with penalties – holdings and false starts – and I have to do a good job of getting the ball in running backs' and receivers' hands."

"I've been talking with the receivers a lot more this week. Letting them know which routes we're going to run and just trying to build up my chemistry with them. I wanted to let them know that I'm going to do a better job of getting them catchable balls so they can run with it and make plays," Rosier added.

Rosier can look at what Virginia Tech's Michael Brewer did against Duke's defense for confidence – and maybe a few pointers. Though the Hokies fell 45-43 to the Blue Devils in quadruple overtime, Brewer was able to amass 270 passing yards and tossed three touchdowns.

Rosier, a three-star dual-threat quarterback from Alabama, threw for 1,852 yards and 16 touchdowns while running for 1,301 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior in high school. Since redshirting his freshman year, the 6-foot-2 Rosier has been in the Canes' system for two years and may be the most athletic player at the position.

His ability to escape the pocket – through rollouts or scrambles – should prove beneficial as Miami's offensive line continues to struggle in pass protection.

If Kaaya is forced to miss an extended amount of time, Rosier's ability to make plays within Coley's offense and avoid costly mistakes as Kaaya had this season, will say a lot of as to whether or not the Canes will avoid falling into the cellar of the ACC Coastal.

A loss Saturday would drop Miami to 1-3 in the division, looking up at Pittsburgh, North Carolina and the Blue Devils.

Still, interim coach Scott said he's confident in Rosier.

"Malik has really attacked this thing," Scott said. "We've been happy with this attitude and his mindset. He's feeding off the energy that's coming from Coach [James] Coley. He's prepared. He's watching a lot of film. He's leading. And he genuinely wants to do well…he wants to be able to answer when we call on him."

Ins And Outs

Senior receiver Rashawn Scott was not listed on the team's injury report. Scott was hurt during the Clemson game after taking a big hit while attempting to make a reception.

Scott leads the team in receiving with 35 receptions for 467 yards and four touchdowns.

In 12 meetings, Miami has defeated Duke 10 times. UM defeated Duke 22-10 in 2014 at Sun Life Stadium. The Hurricanes are 5-1 playing in Durham, North Carolina.

Listen to the Miami Hurricanes take on the Duke Blue Devils this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. on Sports Radio 560 WQAM, your official radio home for the Canes! 

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