If the Miami Hurricanes want to join Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and play for the national championship, then they will have to do it without two key players.
Defensive end Cornelius Green, whose six sacks put him second on the team in that category, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury and will be out for the remainder of the season. In addition, wide receiver Kevin Beard suffered the same injury and will also not play again this season.
“They will be diagnosed again,” said head coach Larry Coker. “They will be out for the remainder of the year. That is a blow to our football team and a blow to them. Those are two good young men and two good players.”
With Miami operating normally under an eight-man rotation on the defensive line, Green’s injury isn’t extremely costly for the ‘Canes. However, the team does lose a veteran with 35 tackles, and 10 quarterback hurries. This also marks the second consecutive year that Green’s season ended early thanks to an injury.
Red shirt sophomore John Square will take Green’s spot in the rotation, according to Coker. However, expect more of a three-man defensive end rotation with Jerome McDougle, Jamal Green, and Andrew Williams splitting time for Miami.
Beard’s injury could prove more costly in the long run with Miami’s lack of depth among their receivers. Beard was second among Miami receivers with 23 receptions and 262 yards, while also scoring four touchdowns. Red shirt freshman Roscoe Parrish will take Beard’s spot in the starting lineup, and Coker is expecting production out of Parrish.
“No doubt about it that [Parrish] will have to elevate his game. He has played a lot,” Coker said. “Rather than having a four-man rotation, we will probably have more of a three-man rotation. It will hurt us some because of depth.”
Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork also went down during the Pittsburgh game and was diagnosed with an injury to his right calf. Wilfork may miss some practice time, but Coker expects him to be in the lineup for Saturday’s game against Syracuse.
“I don’t know that [Wilfork] is injured,” Coker said. “I think he may miss a couple of days. I don’t anticipate him missing any game time. With a Thursday night game, that gives us a couple of days to get him ready to play.”
DORSEY’S SECOND HALF
A 54 percent completion rate, along with 243 yards per game are not numbers that would usually put someone on the short list for the Heisman Trophy. However, if you are quarterback Ken Dorsey, then those numbers may be good enough.
Dorsey hasn’t produced his most efficient season at the University of Miami this season, but the senior quarterback once again turned up his play in the second half against Pittsburgh. Coming out of halftime tied 14-14, Dorsey led the Hurricane offense to a touchdown on their first second-half drive, completing three of four passes for 58 yards. Dorsey capped off the drive with a beautiful 30-yard touchdown throw to Andre Johnson.
“The first drive in the third quarter was huge,” Coker said.
However, Dorsey wasn’t finished. Late in the third quarter, he hooked up with Johnson on a 39-yard strike, and then fullback Quad Hill for a 19-yard pickup before Willis McGahee capped off the five play, 80-yard drive with a TD.
“I wanted to come out and set the tone for myself in the second half,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey finished the game completing 14 of 26 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. His second half numbers were much more Heisman-like: nine of 11 passing for 150 yards and a score. Of course, Dorsey isn’t thinking about postseason awards except for the Sears Trophy right now.
“Our goal is in sight, but no team’s going to give it to us,” Dorsey said. “We proved that last year against Boston College and Virginia Tech. No team is going to just hand it to us.”
McGAHEE BREAKS SCHOOL RECORD
With three games to go, it was evident that Willis McGahee would break Edgerrin James single-season school record for touchdowns. However, McGahee decided to do it quickly and in style.
With just over two minutes remaining in the first half, McGahee took a handoff from Ken Dorsey, corralled off a couple defenders and then scampered free for a 69 yard touchdown run, which brought Miami back from a 14-7 deficit. The touchdown gave McGahee 18 on the season, one more than James’s 17 in 1998.
McGahee finished the game with 159 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns, with his second capping off a five-play, 80 yard drive giving Miami a 28-14 advantage. That touchdown would later prove to be the difference in the Hurricanes seven-point victory.
“Willis is a very physical back and just keeps coming at you,” Coker said. “He is in some great company as an all-time UM running back.”
Thursday night’s Miami-Pitt telecast was the most watched in seven years for ESPN on Thursday night. The game averaged a 4.19 rating for the cable sports network and the 3,369,000 household impressions were the most since Florida State-Virginia in November of 1995…Miami is on pace to break the all-time single-season attendance record at the Orange Bowl this year. The ‘Canes have drawn 338,125 fans and would need just under 51,000 in their final regular-season game against Virginia Tech to break the record, set in 1960…Miami’s streak of holding Big East opponents to touchdown’s in the Orange Bowl ended Thursday when Rod Rutherford hooked up with Larry Fitzgerald for a five-yard score. The streak had been at 23 quarters before that.
You can reach Jeremy Marks-Peltz at email@example.com.