The theme of the week, besides Thursday night’s quick turnaround, offensive woes and Coastal Division survival for the Hurricanes: defensive injuries.
And it got worse before Miami even played a snap against Virginia Tech.
The Hurricanes confirmed Thursday that defensive end starter Chad Thomas, UM’s tackles for loss (8) and sack leader (3 1/2) who was listed as questionable for the Virginia Tech game, did not travel and was out of the game with his upper-extremity injury.
And there’s more: sophomore cornerback Sheldrick Redwine, who started the previous five games opposite senior standout Corn Elder, also did not travel to Virginia Tech because of an injury sustained last week against North Carolina.
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Redwine was never even listed on Miami’s injury report that was released Tuesday niht.
Listed as out for the game on that report were standout defensive tackle Gerald Willis (knee), defensive end Scott Patchan (knee) and starting defensive end Demetrius Jackson (knee).
Then, with 11:55 left in the first quarter Thursday, defensive tackle Kendrick Norton appeared to injure his left knee area. He left the field on his own but eventually returned.
Redwine, who has 16 tackles and two pass breakups, practiced Monday but didn’t finish Tuesday’s practice, a source told the Miami Herald.
Thomas broke his right hand against Florida State and has been playing with a heavily wrapped “club’’ since then.
Starting in place of the two former starting defensive ends were 6-2, 250-pound junior Trent Harris and 6-5, 250-pound freshman Joe Jackson.
Harris broke his left hand earlier this season and recently began playing without the wrapping on it. Going into Thursday’s game he had 10 tackles, 4 1/2 tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and quarterback hurry.
Joe Jackson, out of Miami Gulliver Prep, shared the sack lead with Thomas going into Virginia Tech and had 4 1/2 tackles for loss.
UM coach Mark Richt, peppered with questions this week about the injuries, did not want to go into detail and said the media would discover the answers when the depth chart was released.
Patchan, a redshirt freshman who had reconstructive knee surgery during spring practice, was injured against Florida State on Oct. 8 in his first game as a Hurricane. He tweeted out this week that his ACL, however, is “FINE.’’
How hard is it to keep the players’ attitudes up, considering all the physical setbacks?
“Everybody understands that in the game of football, injuries happen,’’ Richt said earlier this week. “There’s attrition for different reason, in the collegiate game especially. Everybody has really done a good job of focusing on the moment and focusing on what’s important.
“There’s always a difference between how you might feel and how you need to act, but once you start practicing and start getting your blood pumping and all that kind of thing, the guys have enjoyed it out there. I don’t have an issue or concern right now with that. I think with this fast of a turnaround it’s hard for everybody to catch their breath a little bit physically and mentally, but Virginia Tech is going through the same thing.
“They’ve come off a loss, and they’ve got to turn around quick as well.”
Nobody on UM’s staff knows the Hokies as well as offensive line coach Stacy Searels, who spent the past two seasons as the offensive line coach at Virginia Tech.
“I am familiar with these guys. I’m familiar with some of the guys on that staff. I’m familiar with the area,’’ Searels said this week. “I’m familiar with the passion that those Hokies fans have up there. It’s a neat place.
“… But it’s nothing new to these guys. A lot of these guys went up there two years ago and played well, so they know the atmosphere. But we go about our preparation every week the same, in just trying to get better and play with intensity and passion.”
Unfortunately, the Hurricanes had already given up four sacks and seven tackles for loss by halftime on Thursday night.
KAAYA THIRD ALL-TIME
Brad Kaaya’s 90 passing yards in the first quarter moved him past Stephen Morris as third all-time in career passing yards at UM. Morris had 7,896 passing yards from 2010-13.
Offense: QB Brad Kaaya, RB Mark Walton, WR Stacy Coley, WR Braxton Berrios, WR Ahmmon Richards, TE Christopher Herndon IV, LT Trevor Darling, LG Kc McDermott, C Nick Linder, RG Danny Isidora, RT Tyree St. Louis
Defense: DE Jackson, DT Kendrick Norton, DT RJ McIntosh, DE Harris, LB Zach McCloud, LB Shaquille Quarterman, LB Michael Pinckney, CB Corn Elder, CB Adrian Colbert, S Jaquan Johnson, S Jamal Carter
Senior safety Jamal Carter, senior cornerback Elder, senior guard Danny Isidora and senior punter Justin Vogel represented the Canes during the coin toss Thursday. UM lost the toss for the third consecutive game.