The Hurricanes’ injury situation looked ugly at times Thursday, sort of like Miami’s performance at North Carolina.
But it turned out better than most expected.
Hurricanes coach Al Golden said Friday that starting junior receiver Phillip Dorsett, Miami’s fastest player and one of its best on offense, partially tore his medial collateral ligament and is expected to be out a month to six weeks.
He left the game on crutches and many feared the worst. “We’re blessed,” Golden said.
Tailback Duke Johnson, one of the top running backs in the nation, took a helmet to the head in the first quarter and is being evaluated to determine whether the injury is a “low-level concussion,” Golden said, “or a blow that triggered a migraine reaction.”
Golden said Johnson, who has a history of migraines, was in good spirits Friday and watched film along with receiving treatment.
“In my career, in my time here, I’ve seen guys with concussions,” he said. “They can’t even open their eyes or get up the next day. I think we’ve dodged a bullet there and hopefully he’ll continue to make progress as the week unfolds.”
Injury news among defensive backs:
Safety Kacy Rodgers “is going to be OK with an ankle” injury, Golden said. “We’re going to monitor here in the next 72 hours.”
But he said the nine days before UM’s next game — Oct. 26 at home against Wake Forest — “could be the difference. He looks like he’ll be able to make it for Wake.”
Safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Deon Bush each have deep thigh contusions “that can really get sore,” Golden said. “But they’re both good [Friday], and we’re moving them around a little and running them and stretching them a bit so they can get healthy.”
Golden was mostly happy that Dorsett will eventually be back. He left the game late in the first quarter after making two catches, including a 68-yarder that quarterback Stephen Morris floated. He has the second most receiving yards (279) for UM and leads the team with a 20.9-yard average per catch.
“We’re all grateful,” Golden said. “It did not look good [Thursday] night. We’re very relieved and obviously disappointed for the young man. But certainly it could have been far worse than that.”
Lost amid the excitement of the last-minute 27-23 victory was the fact that the Hurricanes (6-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) qualified for a bowl game. UM self-imposed postseason bans the previous two seasons, and Golden was asked what it meant to the players to qualify again after still not having heard from the NCAA in the case involving former booster Nevin Shapiro.
“I think we all feel like we’ve served a great penalty over the last two years, and I guess we all have confidence that we’ll be able to move forward here,” Golden said. “Hopefully, we’ll get some closure here soon. … But it does feel good to be bowl eligible for sure.”
Other subjects on which the coach touched:
• Morris’ right ankle that he injured Sept. 21 at Savannah State: “There has been nothing consistent in his routine, his preparation, his motion over the last month,” Golden said. “And certainly last week giving him that whole time off doesn’t help with his timing with the receivers. … There’s no question we have to continue to get him healed. … I just talked to him, and there’s no setback from [Thursday] night at all. There’s no pain, so hopefully we can close this chapter and get back to him shifting his weight and feeling comfortable in his mechanics.”
• Tailback Dallas Crawford’s career performance of 137 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown run with 16 seconds left: “Dallas has earned more playing time. I don’t think there’s any question about it. He’s feeling more comfortable at running back. He’s running the ball really hard. He made a lot of people miss. He had a lot of yards after contact. Caught a nice screen. Blocked a punt, received a punt. He does a lot of things for us.”
• Wide receiver Rashawn Scott has been cleared and is getting prepared to play in his first game since injuring his collarbone in the season opener.