ATLANTA – This is what Mark Richt envisioned when he turned to N’Kosi Perry at quarterback six weeks ago.

And although the freshman still has a long way to go, his performance in the Hurricanes’ 27-21 loss Saturday at Georgia Tech was much more encouraging than we have seen.

Perry had his most complete game, connecting on 14-of-23 passes for 165 yards and rushing for 38 yards on six carries. He did not throw an interception or a touchdown pass. He entered the game with a 52.4 completion percentage (55 of 105) for 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Perry started his fourth game of the season against the Yellow Jackets after Richt opened up the competition between Perry and senior Malik Rosier during practice. Richt announced his decision on Thursday.

“I feel like it started in practice,” Perry said. “I just felt more comfortable this week than any other week knowing what our opponent was going to be doing. I felt like it was clicking.”

Perry had uneven performances in wins over North Carolina and Florida State and was pulled from his start at Virginia. But for the first time this year he improved as the game progressed. His most impressive drive was Miami’s last of the game when he took the team 95 yards on 15 plays, capped by Travis Homer’s 2-yard touchdown run that cut the deficit to 27-21.

Perry was responsible for four third down conversions during the drive, rushing for two and throwing for two.

“I thought he was throwing the ball on the money, I thought he threw it with authority,” Richt said.

But he would not get another shot as Georgia Tech controlled the ball for the final 6:43 of the game.

Perry, and the offense, could not overcome three Miami fumbles that led to 13 Georgia Tech points. One of those was by Perry, who mishandled a snap in the second quarter.

Miami eliminated from Coastal Division race: A year ago, the Hurricanes played their first ACC championship game since joining the league in 2004 and was the picked to repeat as Coastal Division champions in a preseason media poll.

Now, with two games remaining, the Miami has been eliminated from the Coastal Division race.

Miami (5-5) is 2-4 in the division and cannot catch division leader Pittsburgh, which is 5-1.

“I don’t think we were thinking about the Coastal race,” Richt said. “We were thinking about winning the game. I really know these guys well enough that they’re going to get back to work and battle their tails off.”

New look offensive line, again: Quarterback was not the only position that saw a change against Georgia Tech.

The Hurricanes used their fifth different starting combination on the offensive line, with Venzell Boulware replacing Jahair Jones at left guard and Hayden Mahoney back at right guard.

Left tackle Tyree St. Louis and center Tyler Gauthier are the only two players to start every game at the same position. DJ Scaife has started the last four at right tackle. Boulware has started four games, all at left guard. Mahoney has started eight, seven at right guard, one at left guard.

The offense’s struggles can be attributed to the poor quarterback and offensive line play. The numbers are down in most categories, especially in the passing game where the Hurricanes entered Saturday averaging just 193.2 yards per game through the air, about 50 per game fewer than 2017.

The line has allowed 22 sacks for 153 yards. A year ago, Miami’s quarterbacks were sacked 29 times in 13 games for 153 yards.

Miami-Virginia Tech kickoff announced: The game between the two most disappointing teams in the Coastal Division – Miami at Virginia Tech – will start at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Blacksburg, Va.

tom_dangelo@pbpost.com

@tomdangelo44