CHARLOTTE — New ACC Network studio analyst Mark Richt is leaning towards picking his former team Miami to win the Coastal Division.
One thing has him hesitating — Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins.
“I knew Perkins was different than any guy I’ve seen in awhile,” Richt said, on Wednesday at the ACC Kickoff. “He’s just a super cool customer.”
While Perkins struggled against Miami going 12 of 21 for 92 yards with three interceptions (all in the first half), Richt still came away impressed with quarterback.
“He reminds me of Charlie Ward’s pocket presence,” Richt said. “Charlie would be back there and it looked like he didn’t have a care in the world. He’s like that. There will be a guy coming right in his mouth and he’ll just stand there.”
Richt saw that swagger trickle down to the rest of Virginia’s team as it upset Miami for the program’s first win over a ranked opponent in four years.
“He’s a winner,” Richt said. “He brought some confidence to the whole team. I think he’s only going to get better. I would not be shocked to see Virginia win the Coastal Division.”
Perkins threw for 2,680 yards (64.5 percent) with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He ran the ball 212 times for 923 yards with nine touchdowns. He was one of two players with 2,600-plus passing yards and 900-plus rushing yards (Heisman winner Kyler Murray was the other). Perkins’ 3,603 total yards of offense set a UVA single-season record as did his 34 total touchdowns.
Former Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel is also high on Perkins. The new ACC Network studio analyst has been doing research in recent weeks (much of it focused on the returning quarterbacks) for his new on-camera role. Manuel still rates Clemson's Trevor Lawrence as the conference’s top quarterback, but Perkins isn’t that far behind.
“They need to be talking about Perkins,” Manuel said. “I’m not going to call him a dual threat, he’s a great quarterback. He can run — he put up close to 1,000 yards last year — but if he can play well and stay healthy I see them giving Clemson a run for their money if both make it to the ACC Championship.”
Perkins will be joined by defensive back Bryce Hall at ACC kickoff on Thursday representing UVA.