'We still believe that Jarren is our guy,' Diaz says of Williams

No quarterback controversy for Hurricanes headed into Virginia game

Miami head coach Manny Diaz is sticking with Jarren Williams at starting quarterback after backup N'Kosi Perry (left) threw for 422 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-35 loss to Virginia Tech. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – There is no quarterback controversy for the Miami Hurricanes. At least not in the eyes of Manny Diaz.

The first-year head coach said as much after Saturday's 42-35 home loss to Virginia Tech.

N'Kosi Perry spelled a struggling Jarren Williams and sparked a near-comeback that fell 10 yards short of the end zone that would have sent the game into overtime.

Perry, who split time as the starter last season, threw for a career-best 422 yards and four touchdowns off the bench for the Hurricanes (2-3, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who are off to their worst start since Al Golden's first season in 2011.

"Jarren was seeing late or just getting the ball out late and, you know, had three interceptions in quick succession, so we thought N'Kosi went in and, in that stage, gave us the best chance to win," Diaz said. "We didn't want to do anything to wreck Jarren's confidence. We still believe that Jarren is our guy, so I don't know what would change. It was just, as the game was going on, that N'Kosi gave us the best chance to win."

Williams completed just 4 of 7 attempts for 47 yards, but he was also picked off three times -- he had not previously been intercepted through the first four games -- and was sacked once.

Perry wasn't advocating for the job after the game, but he said he'll be ready to play no matter the role.

"I'm just going to prepare the same way every week as if I am the starter," Perry told reporters Saturday. "That [was] my mindset before and I'm going to continue to have the same mindset just in case, and you never know what could happen."

Diaz called Perry's performance -- as well as the entire team's play -- "uneven."

"I thought he made some really good throws," Diaz said. "I thought he kept some things alive. I think that, when he watches film, there were some throws that again, with some feel, anticipation and if he just lets it rip, there were some big plays that were available."

Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz reacts after a touchdown against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium on Oct. 05, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Diaz said there was plenty of blame to go around after the Hurricanes fell behind 28-0 in the first half and 35-14 midway through the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes scored three touchdowns in less than four minutes to tie the game, but there were some questionable coaching decisions -- including going for a two-point conversion after the second of those scores -- that may have contributed to the outcome.

"There are a lot of guys in the locker room that played good enough to pull off one of the most historic wins of all time and yet, everybody in that locker room, coaches included, made enough mistakes, execution-wise, to make us feel the way we feel right now, which is pretty awful," Diaz said.

Perry said he was proud of his performance but disappointed that it didn't result in a win. But he said he's trying to keep a positive attitude.

"No matter who's at the starting position, I'm behind my team, and I just want to give a positive attitude 24/7 in practice and off the field," Perry said.

The schedule doesn't get any easier with No. 20 Virginia (4-1, 2-0) headed to Hard Rock Stadium for a Friday night game. The Cavaliers are in first place in the ACC Coastal Division.