Hard to fathom that Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya isn’t one big walking bruise.
But after being sacked 18 times during the Hurricanes’ four-game losing streak — three times against Florida State, twice against North Carolina, eight times at Virginia Tech and five times at Notre Dame — the Hurricanes’ signal caller wouldn’t give any indication that his throwing shoulder was compromised.
“I can’t really disclose any of that kind of information,’’ Kaaya said after practice Tuesday, as UM (4-4, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepares to play host to Coastal Division foe Pittsburgh (5-3, 2-2) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
During games, Kaaya was told, it has been noticed that he rotates his right shoulder a lot.
“I just do that just to keep it warm, I guess,’’ he said — keep my shoulder warm, yeah.’’
He’ll need to against Pitt, ranked fifth in the nation in sacks with 28, with Pitt’s sack yardage of 230 second to No. 1 Alabama’s 278. Defensive end Ejuan Price ranks first nationally in tackles for loss (16), second in sacks (nine) and 15th in forced fumbles (three).
“I think everybody knows who he is, as they should,’’ Miami coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. “Between tackles for loss and sacks, he’s a game-record kind of guy.”
Kaaya has held the ball too long at times, exacerbating his problems. Richt said Tuesday that if a quarterback is “holding the ball longer than four [seconds], you’re asking for it. ... For the most part, anywhere between two-and-a-half to four seconds is when you’d like [the ball] to be out.’’
Despite all that has gone wrong this season, Kaaya, who has thrown for 1,984 yards and 13 touchdowns, with six interceptions, said that “there’s a lot of energy on the team on both sides of the ball,’’ and that the goal is to “win the rest of them.’’
“Beat Pittsburgh right now,’’ he said.
He was asked what he can do to buy more time in the pocket.
“Just have got to keep trusting my O-line,’’ Kaaya said. “There are certain progressions that we have to get through on my reads and just trust my O-line. I can’t really anticipate a certain guy getting beat, or I can’t anticipate inside pressure from a four-down rush. So I just have to keep trusting them and know that they’ll get it together.’’
How do you trust them when you’ve been sacked so many times recently?
“Those are the guys I’ve been with the last three years,’’ Kaaya said. “So nothing is changing. I still trust them every time I drop back. They’re banged up. We’re all banged up. Still have to keep trusting them and just know that things will get better. I have to take some on the chin sometimes.’’
Left guard Kc McDermott insisted Tuesday that it was “nothing scheme-wise or coaching-wise’’ going wrong on the line. “It’s just player execution,’’ he said. “We’ve got to play harder. We’ve got to play nastier. We’ve got to make sure we get our assignments done right. If we do that, we’ll win.’’
Offensive coordinator/running backs coach Thomas Brown said he believes the Hurricanes “lack some leadership on offense at times.
“There are some guys who are lead-by-example guys, but there is no commanding voice consistently, and I think we need more of that. ... I told our guys in the spring time that any great football team I’ve been around is player driven. You’ve got to be led from within.’’
Senior cornerbacks Adrian Colbert and Corn Elder missed practice Tuesday. Colbert, who had an outstanding game at Notre Dame, will undergo arm surgery this week, per Miami Herald contributor Peter Ariz. Elder had a thumb X-rayed during the Notre Dame game, 560 WQAM reported Saturday, saying the X-ray was negative. Also missing practice was defensive end Demetrius Jackson (knee).