The Miami Hurricanes escaped with a win in overtime Saturday against Nebraska.
Now Miami (3-0) hopes it will escape with weak-side starting linebacker Jermaine Grace healthy enough to play in the next game Oct. 1 at Cincinnati — a nationally televised, Thursday night ESPN matchup with the Bearcats (2-1).
Miami coach Al Golden said Sunday evening that Grace, a 6-1, 208-pound junior out of Miramar High, sustained a “little bit of a shoulder” injury but that it appears to be “not as significant time-wise as just making sure that we do everything from a concussion protocol with him and make sure we’re checking all the boxes.”
Golden didn’t actually say that Grace had a concussion, just that he was being evaluated.
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Grace, one of UM’s best players on defense, initially injured his right shoulder — WQAM-560 reported it as a stinger — at 8:37 of the second quarter. He eventually returned to the game, then collided with safety Deon Bush at 9:28 of the third quarter. He appeared woozy and disoriented before being helped off the field and didn’t return.
“We don’t see any reason at this point just based on how he looked and felt [Sunday] that he will have to miss any games,” Golden said. “He should be ready to go by the time we get into game week next week.’”
Grace was UM’s top returning tackler this season after Denzel Perryman left for the NFL. He is now second behind middle linebacker Raphael Kirby with 16 tackles — five on Saturday — in the first three games, including one for a loss. He also has two pass breakups.
Middle linebacker Juwon Young returned to the lineup after missing two games with a foot injury.
In other injury news, receiver Stacy Coley, who returned Saturday after nursing a hamstring injury, left the game again with what appeared to be a hamstring or knee injury. Golden said he “should be back” for Cincinnati.
The coach said receiver Braxton Berrios will be back for Cincinnati and that safety Ryan Mayes (hamstring) also could be cleared.
When Golden was asked what went wrong with his defense in the fourth quarter, he started by talking about missed sacks.
The Canes (3-0) gave up 23 consecutive points in the final quarter before winning 36-33 in overtime with a 28-yard field goal by Michael Badgley.
“It was almost a situation where we forced them into doing something, and then we actually didn’t get him on the ground when we did it,” he said of Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong. “We did get pressure on the quarterback. We did chase him. But we did not finish those. And then he got a hot hand. And when the plays broke down and he scrambled, he ended up getting some [explosive] plays as a result.”
Golden also cited Nebraska’s third- and fourth-down conversions — 6 of 15 on third downs and one converted fourth down.
“You can’t give those up,” he said. “Even if we had one of the two stops on the two-point plays, it wouldn’t have materialized the way it did.
“The penalties [13 for 114 yards] helped them with free yards and without taking any time off the clock and all of those things … put us in the jam we were in.”
▪ Safeties Jamal Carter and Bush will both miss the first half of the Cincinnati game after being ejected separately late in the game for targeting. Atlantic Coast Conference associate commissioner for communications Mike Finn said Sunday that the decision by the officials after reviewing the play Saturday night is final.
▪ UM got a sideline bench warning before the bench was penalized twice, including Golden being hit with a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. He was asked if that ever happened to him before and if it was something he regrets or surprised him.
“All I’ll say is it hasn’t happened to me,” he said. “It terms of officiating, I don’t really have a comment.”
The coaches will “catch up with some recruiting” during the off week, Golden said, and make sure the players get healthy and get ahead on their academics.
▪ The Canes received votes in both the AP and coaches’ polls Sunday, receiving 13 points in the AP rankings for what would be No. 37 and 58 points in the coaches’ rankings for what would be 28th.
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