UM’s front seven on defense, already depleted by injuries and dismissals, is dangerously thin entering Thursday’s game at Virginia Tech.
Defensive end Demetrius Jackson and defensive tackle Gerald Willis were ruled out. Both have knee injuries.
Defensive end Chad Thomas was listed as questionable. Thomas played with a club on his hand against North Carolina but left for good in the second half against North Carolina after injuring his right leg.
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz declined to say who might start opposite Trent Harris if Thomas cannot play. Joe Jackson would be the front-runner over fellow freshman Pat Bethel.
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UM also is without defensive end Scott Patchan, who had surgery on a knee injury.
UM has the option of moving Richard McIntosh Jr. from tackle to end, but Diaz sounds disinclined to do that. “You don’t want to hurt yourself in two spots,” he said.
But defensive tackle Anthony Moten could play end.
UM previously lost Al Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace to dismissals and linebacker Jamie Gordinier to a season-ending injury.
It was so bad at practice Tuesday that UM used tight end Standish Dobard at defensive end. But Diaz indicated it would be unrealistic to move him to defense for this game.
• Diaz made an interesting comment Tuesday: “We’re taking this program somewhere and we understand there are peaks and valleys along the way. Wins and losses, we’re not worried about that. We’re worried about changing the way the Hurricanes play. If we continue to do that, eventually we’re going to get this program where we want it.”
• Brad Kaaya declined to assess how his season has gone, saying he would withhold judgment until the end.
“You can’t dwell too much on a couple games,” Kaaya said, presumably referencing the 19-point offensive showing against FSU and the 13-point output against North Carolina.
• Asked how his pass protection has been, offensive line coach Stacy Searels said: “You see the last two plays? Not very dang good.” But he said he’s sticking with these starters.
• Richt on Kaaya: “He’s done pretty well for the most part. We don’t grade passing percentages as much as we grade accuracy…. He’s missed a couple shots. Not everybody hits it right on the money.”
• Richt, on offensive issues: “There were a couple things we didn’t get the information signaled [quickly] enough. We had some self-inflicted wounds. We can’t have the penalties. All those things boil down to myself and the coaching staff getting the job done.”
• Offensive coordinator Thomas Brown is frustrated by the lack of execution: “We’re very talented. We have playakers all over the field.”
• ESPN assigned Dave Flemming and Jesse Palmer to UM-Virginia Tech on Thursday. The game is starting at 7 so that ESPN can accommodate BYU-Boise State at 10:15 p.m.
• UM has raised $26 million of the $34 million needed for an indoor practice facility and is dangling a carrot: If you make a significant donation, you could have a coach’s office or a room named after you.
• Richt told me he likes his group of 2017 oral commitments but would like to add another high-end offensive tackle.