Rashawn Scott, UM’s second-leading receiver, is suspended for at least another game.
Freshman receiver Robert Lockhart, out for the season, is walking around with crutches and a brace on his right knee.
And freshman receiver Malcolm Lewis, also out for the season, is recuperating from surgery on his left leg after a gruesome injury at Georgia Tech in September.
And now, the newest hurdle for the Miami Hurricanes’ receiving corps is a broken bone in the left thumb of Allen Hurns — Miami’s third-leading receiver and one of its most dependable players.
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UM coach Al Golden said Tuesday that Hurns, a 6-3, 192-pound junior starter, is expected to play Saturday in UM’s home finale against USF. He wore a yellow, limited-contact jersey at practice Tuesday and had a cast on his left hand.
“We’re protecting it, and we’ll see how it evolves on Thursday … and then see if there can be some kind of soft splint or tape job that he can go through with,” Golden said. “He’s got a little crack, if you will, and he’s working through it in his thumb. It’s not in the joint or anything that’s going to be career-threatening, so he’s been cleared to proceed.”
The injury occurred while Hurns was blocking on a first-quarter kickoff return at Virginia.
“He had an unbelievable block and finished the play,” Golden said. “And then he goes out and catches four balls [for 37 yards and two touchdowns] and blocks his tail off. You’ve got to be tough to do what he did.”
Hurns, a graduate of Carol City High, has played in nine games this season — starting eight. He has 27 catches for 307 yards, an 11.4-yard average per catch, plus four touchdowns.
Hurns sustained a concussion early in the season and was used guardedly in some games when he returned. Considered a humble leader, he is one of the Hurricanes’ hardest workers, a favorite among coaches for his positive attitude and mature demeanor.
“He graded out at like 95 percent for us,” Golden said on Sunday, before it was revealed that Hurns was hurt. “He’s got great effort, is practicing really well the last three weeks, and is unselfish on special teams. He leads by example. We need him.”
UM (5-5), ranked 41st nationally in passing offense (268.4 receiving yards-per-game), needs its other receivers as well. Sophomore Phillip Dorsett leads the team with 648 yards and four touchdowns.
“I know it’s going to be tough catching [with a cast],” Dorsett said, “but the blocking part is probably going to be even worse.”
UM quarterback Stephen Morris said he wasn’t worried.
“I know my guys are excited and that just means there will be more catches for them,” Morris said. “I think they’ll be fine.”
The Bulls (3-6) are ranked 68th in pass defense, allowing 241.2 yards per game.
If Hurns is limited or doesn’t play, UM will depend on fifth-year senior Davon Johnson, who has 204 receiving yards and a touchdown this season.
“He’s a great route runner and has real good hands,” Dorsett said. “He can find those soft spots in the zones and the slot.”
UM receivers coach George McDonald said Tuesday that since the Boston College game, Johnson’s “value, in terms of what he is providing to the offense, and his dependability, have done wonders every week. He does a great job of being in the right place and making crucial catches — like the first drive [last Saturday], he made a great third-down catch that led to a score.”
After Hurns, UM’s next-leading receiver is running back Mike James, with 27 catches for 247 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s reaping the rewards of showing how multidimensional he is,” McDonald said of James. “He’s making our offense a lot more diverse.”
Said James, who will be playing in his final home game as a senior: “It’s important for any running back to catch the ball out of the backfield. We try to emphasize that a lot. I just try to do what I can to contribute, get open and give Stephen a checkdown when he needs it.”