Diaz praises Perry for hard work, preparation as No. 2 quarterback

Perry leads Miami to upset of Virginia, but Williams will start again if healthy

Miami Hurricanes quarterback N'Kosi Perry celebrates a fourth-quarter touchdown against the Virginia Cavaliers at Hard Rock Stadium on Oct. 11, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Mark Brown/Getty Images)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – N'Kosi Perry led Miami to its biggest win of the season Friday night, but if Jarren Williams is healthy, he'll return to the starting lineup this weekend against Georgia Tech.

Head coach Manny Diaz reiterated after Miami's 17-9 victory over then-No. 20 Virginia that Williams remains the starting quarterback for the Hurricanes.

"I've always said that Jarren Williams is our guy," Diaz told reporters. "The question we have right now when we get back is, how is Jarren?"

Williams suffered a shoulder injury in an Oct. 5 loss to Virginia Tech and missed Friday night's game against the Cavaliers.

Perry came off the bench after Williams threw three interceptions and passed for a career-high 422 yards and four touchdowns in the 42-35 loss.

In his first start of the season against Virginia, Perry completed 16 of 27 attempts for 182 yards and accounted for the game's only touchdowns, including a 3-yard run with 2:31 left in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

"When we got that touchdown and went up by eight points, I knew that we were going to win the game," Perry told reporters. "I saw a hole, after my first read wasn't there, and I took advantage of it."

Miami Hurricanes quarterback N'Kosi Perry runs for a touchdown against the Virginia Cavaliers in the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on Oct. 11, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

As the Hurricanes (3-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepare for their penultimate game at Hard Rock Stadium, Perry knows his role. It's something Diaz praised Perry for after the game.

"The guy worked really, really hard from January all the way to August," Diaz said. "Then he finds out that he is not the starting quarterback. It's so easy in this day and age to throw your hands up in the air and say, 'I'm going to pack my bags or I'm going to stop working.' For him to not only stay, but also to continue to persevere, last week we saw a new version of N'Kosi. We saw how much he had improved."

The Hurricanes have an opportunity against a struggling Georgia Tech (1-5, 0-3 ACC) team that has lost four straight games and remains winless in conference play.

No matter who takes the first snap Saturday, Perry will be ready.

"All you had to do was watch the guy on the sideline during the first half of the season when he wasn't playing and watch his demeanor and temperament," Diaz said. "He's done nothing but continue to improve, even when he was not the starter. That's a good thing because who could predict what happens during a football season. At quarterback, it's obvious, but it could be another position where you have an injury and a guy fills in and all of a sudden, here we go."

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