Miami Hurricanes starting offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu had surgery on his right knee and will not play in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 26 in El Paso, UM coaches confirmed Friday.
Odogwu, 6-8 and 318 pounds, was at the Hecht Athletic Center on campus Friday morning with a large brace on his right knee. He used a metal crutch under his left arm to slowly limp down the hallway.
UM interim coach Larry Scott said he’s hoping Odogwu will be back for spring practice but is not certain he will make all of it. The type of surgery was not disclosed. Scott said Odogwu will still travel with the team to enjoy the bowl festivities.
“Sunny is so tough, man, and resilient,” Scott said. “He did some things and battled for us all year like that, for the most part. Scott said this week that Odogwu, a redshirt sophomore, injured the knee during the last regular-season game at Pittsburgh. “He’s to be commended. We don’t want to leave any man behind if we don’t have to.”
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The Hurricanes (8-4) need to protect quarterback Brad Kaaya to keep up with what could be a high-scoring affair, given that Washington state (8-4) has the No. 1 passing offense in the nation, averaging 397 passing yards a game.
The Canes, to their credit, are 19th nationally in sacks allowed, having given up only 15 this season. Miami’s rushing offense, however, is ranked 116th nationally.
“I’m disappointed in one area, the running game,” offensive line coach Art Kehoe said of his young line. “We’re fairly consistent, but we missed out on big plays, had some breakdowns that now when you have some time to study you’re going to be able to correct. That’s the thing when you graduate those experienced guys that have started like 30 games. But we protected the quarterback pretty good and scored some points.”
Odogwu, from Nigeria, started nine of 12 games this season at right tackle. Fellow sophomore Kc McDermott, 6-6 and 310 pounds, started the next-to-the-last game against Georgia Tech, and usual right guard Danny Isidora started twice at right tackle this season.
Odogwu has been missing from practices this week.
The problem now is that Isidora, a 6-4, 325-pound junior that has started 25 consecutive games on the offensive line entering the bowl game, had been wearing a red, no-contact jersey in the past couple of practices with an undisclosed injury. Scott said Friday after practice that Isidora wore a yellow (limited contact) jersey in the Canes’ final session of the 2015 season at Greentree Field and that he would be ready for the bowl game.
“He’s just a little dinged up,’’ Kehoe said of Isidora. “But he’s going to be raring and ready to go.’’
McDermott, who also started six games at left guard this season, will slip into the right tackle spot during the bowl, making way for senior Alex Gall, who started the other games at left guard and is expected to play there at the Sun Bowl.
UM had a short practice Friday morning, with no media availability at the start. The Canes will leave for El Paso on Monday.
▪ Receiver Stacy Coley said Friday that he still hasn’t heard back from the NFL Draft Advisory Board on his evaluation, and that he will use his mother’s guidance to help him make the decision. “[I’ll] just sit down with my mom and just see where everything is at and how she feels about the situation,’’ Coley said. “I’m going to ask my mom and that’s going to decide whether I come back or not.’’
▪ UM offensive lineman Hunter Knighton was named the winner of the 2015 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award on Friday. Knighton, a 6-6, 300-pound redshirt sophomore, returned to action for the Hurricanes this season, less than 19 months after collapsing from a heat stroke that nearly killed him.
▪ Friday’s practice was the last practice on Greentree Field for the seniors. “You know, it’s a funny thing,’’ Scott said. “They talk about it and they know it and they’ll relish in it. They’ll go back in the locker room and think about it again. I think we’ve got them in a place mentally where they go, ‘Man, we gotta go win this game so I don’t want to think about ‘last’ right now.’ I want the reality to set in when they’ve had an opportunity to play the game, win the game and they sit on that airplane on the way back home and go, ‘OK, now it’s finished.’ ”