UM played without suspended starting right tackle Seantrel Henderson on Saturday against Georgia Tech and the offensive line hardly skipped a beat.
UM’s line, which shifted starters around all afternoon, gave up just one negative play — a seven-yard sack by Jeremiah Attachou, who beat senior Brandon Linder.
But it was the only time the Yellow Jackets hit Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris and produced a play behind the line of scrimmage among UM’s 53 offensive snaps.
“The offensive line gave me a lot of time to throw,” said Morris, who finished 17 of 22 passing for a season-high 324 yards and three touchdowns.
“It shows they can play every single position. [ Jared] Wheeler was playing two different positions at both guards. Linder and [ Malcolm] Bunche were moving around. Those guys understand the system. They understand the offense inside and out and they’re very comfortable with playing those positions. I thought they did a great job, and obviously, credit to Coach [ Art] Kehoe.”
Linder, who started at right guard, moved outside to tackle after UM ran just six plays in the first quarter. He replaced junior Jonathan Feliciano, who started the last three games at left guard.
“I haven’t played it in a while,” Linder said of tackle. “I felt good out there. It was nice to be able to go out there and show I can do it.”
A UM spokesman said Henderson, suspended for a violation of team rules, is only expected to miss one game. He was not at Saturday’s game.
“I haven’t talked to him,” coach Al Golden said. “I’m sure I’ll talk to him [Sunday].”
Henderson, who has started 21 games in his career, came to UM from St. Paul, Minn., in 2010 as the reigning USA Today High School Offensive Player of the Year.
Since then, he has battled multiple suspensions, homesickness, back surgery, a car accident and the deaths of a family member and close friend.
He cut off his dreadlocks at the start of fall camp as a fresh start at UM. But this latest setback is troubling.
“We police it in our way as an offensive line and in the offensive line room,” Linder said. “Again, [what we did Saturday] shows everybody can step up changing positions. It won’t be a big deal. It will just be a hiccup and we’ll keep going.”
The good and bad
Junior Phillip Dorsett made the key block to spring Allen Hurns on his game-changing 69-yard TD catch in the third quarter, which gave UM it’s first lead at 24-17. But he also made a key fumble on a punt return that led to Georgia Tech getting great field position and eventually scoring the touchdown that pulled them to 24-23.
“Coach prides himself on us catching every ball,” Dorsett said. “I just wanted to give us good field position. I know it was a short kick and I thought I could get to it. I couldn’t. Defense pulled it out and I owe [defensive coordinator Mark] D’Onofrio one.”
This and that
• Freshman running back Walter Tucker (Plantation American Heritage) made his Hurricanes debut on the opening kickoff coverage team and was in on special teams the entire game. He did not get a carry.
• Freshman receiver Stacy Coley made his first career start and had a career-long 41-yard catch to set up a touchdown in the fourth quarter.