Trajan Bandy: Reaching bowl was important ‘for the seniors’
At least in terms of their bowl situation, the Miami Hurricanes can take a deep, collective breath.
The Hurricanes got the victory they needed Saturday against the Virginia Tech Hokies to extend their season by qualifying for a bowl game.
Although it likely won’t be a high-profile bowl, it will give the Canes (6-5, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) one more opportunity to play their youngsters looking ahead to next season – and give the veterans one more chance to end on a high note.
It also will give UM several extra practices before the bowl game to scope out those youngsters. The announcement for the College Football Playoff field as well as the schedule and fields for the full slate of bowls will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 25.
Here are some of the bowls that college football sites were projecting for Miami going into the Virginia Tech game:
▪ Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl at 8 p.m. on Dec. 20 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The opponent would be a team from the American Athletic Conference, such as Memphis, according to ESPNs Mitch Sherman and Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller; or Cincinnati, according to Athlon; or Yahoo! Sports’ projection of USF.
▪ SERVPRO First Responder Bowl at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 26 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm projected UM could meet Cal there.
▪ The Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit, at 5:15 p.m on Dec. 26.
▪ The New Era Pinstripe Bowl at 5:15 p.m. Dec. 27 at Yankee Stadium in New York City, though it appears to be a longshot.
▪ Walk-On’s Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 27, according to ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura, who projects a USC-Canes matchup.
▪ The Military Bowl Presented by Northrup Grumman, at noon Dec. 31 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. College Football News projected the Canes would play there.
▪ Finally, the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, at 2 p.m. on Dec. 31. UM fell 20-14 to Washington State in 2015 and 33-17 to Notre Dame in 2010 at the Sun Bowl, where SI.com projected the Canes would play.
Miami runs out of tight ends
Miami entered Saturday with half of its scholarship tight ends out for the season because of knee injuries. By the end of the first half, the last two were also down with injuries.
Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory both sustained first-half injuries against the Hokies in Blacksburg, Va., forcing the Hurricanes to play without any of their scholarship tight ends for the second half.
Jordan, who has been one of the brightest spots on Miami’s offense, lasted only one play at Lane Stadium. The Hurricanes ran a screen to Jordan on the first offensive play of the game. After a 5-yard gain, Jordan headed to the locker room for X-rays on one of his ankles, WQAM reported. The Hurricanes ruled the freshman out for the game before the first quarter ended.
For the rest of the half, Mallory worked as the lone tight end before a knee injury ended his day just before halftime. The freshman contorted his body attempting to catch an inaccurate pass by quarterback N’Kosi Perry and took a hit from behind. His left knee twisted awkwardly beneath his body and he came out of halftime wearing a brace. He tried to get loose on an exercise bike before Miami ruled him out early in the quarter. Mallory set career highs with three catches and 28 receiving yards before the injury.
Miami suspends two ahead of game
Both Miami’s offense and defense entered Saturday shorthanded.
A few hours before kickoff, the Hurricanes announced true freshman quarterback Jarren Williams was suspended for the game for a violation of team rules and did not travel. And just a few minutes before kickoff, Miami announced the same was true for starting junior linebacker Michael Pinckney, who later announced on Instagram he took a banned substance.
“I mistakenly took a pain medication that I did not realize was against the rules,” Pinckney wrote. “I take full responsibility and can’t wait to rejoin my teammates next week.”
Pinckney’s absence was particularly important. The junior has started every game at weak-side linebacker for the Hurricanes this season and has been one of the most productive defensive players. He entered Saturday ranked third on the team with 61 total tackles. He also has 8.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and an interception so far this season. Linebacker Mike Smith started in Pinckney’s place.
Williams’ absence probably wasn’t going to affect Miami on the field Saturday. The freshman has played in only one game this season and sits firmly behind fellow quarterbacks Perry and Malik Rosier on the depth chart. Still, Richt said Williams could play again before the end of the season. Williams, who was a U.S. Army All-American, ran for a touchdown in his lone appearance in September.