Barry Jackson

UM loses key freshman. And start time set for Canes-FIU game

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Monday:

Freshman defensive end Gregory Rousseau will be out indefinitely, possibly for the remainder of the season, after sustaining a fractured right ankle in Saturday’s game against Savannah State.

UM announced Rousseau will undergo surgery this week. According to ekneewalker.com, “it is normal for patients to require 12 weeks before they can resume normal daily activities after having an ankle fracture surgically repaired.”

UM said a timetable will be determined after surgery.

The injury further depletes a defensive line that was already temporarily without senior end Demetrius Jackson, who missed Saturday’s game with a knee injury. Mark Richt said Jackson is “day to day.”

If Jackson cannot play Saturday at Toledo, UM would be down to five defensive ends on scholarship and only three who were defensive ends back in the spring.

Starters Jon Garvin and Joe Jackson and backup Scott Patchan are the healthy natural defensive ends.

Defensive line coach Jess Simpson said in August that two linebackers had been moved to defensive end – freshman Patrick Joyner Jr. and backup Terry McCray.

Rousseau, who had five tackles in two games, had a combined nine sacks in two spring scrimmages and the spring game but didn’t get any defensive snaps in the opener against LSU. Still, he was UM’s most ballyhooed freshman on defense, and Richt has said he would play a lot this season.

UM’s home game against FIU on Sept. 22 will be a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised by either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU, according to an ACC announcement Monday afternoon.

A Northern Illinois-at-FSU game was also listed as the same that day - a 3:30 p.m. start on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.

UM’s noon Saturday game at Toledo will be on ESPN2.

Albeit against an undermanned opponent, UM saw flashes Saturday of how good the Will Mallory/Brevin Jordan tight end combination can be over the next several years. Jordan caught two touchdown passes and Mallory one.

“I was really happy for them,” Richt said on WQAM’s Joe Rose show on Monday morning. “They are really good friends. You’ve got two of the highest-rated tight ends in America coming in the same class and they could be saying ‘If he comes, I’m not coming’ or vice versa, but they were like, ‘Let’s come together and let’s be similar to what [Chris] Herndon and [David] Njoku did.’ And that’s how we’re using those guys. That’s how we will use them in the future.

“It was very interesting to see the one touchdown pass, the first touchdown pass that Brevin caught, Will was actually in the game and he was the first one there to congratulate him. …

“They got to celebrate together on that touchdown. They’re kind of living the dream you hope when you get recruited — that ‘Gosh, we’re going to play as freshmen and we’re going to make plays’ and both of them caught touchdown passes and made a difference for the team. It’s pretty exciting to see those guys come in and do what we thought they could do.”

I asked Jordan after the game what tight ends he likes to watch and emulate. He mentioned Tennessee’s Delani Walker (who suffered a dislocated ankle against the Dolphins on Sunday) and Kansas City’s Travis Kelce.

Jordan’s experience running through the smoke and onto the Hard Rock Stadium field wasn’t quite as he envisioned.

“Running out of the smoke [through] the tunnel, I couldn’t see nothing,” he said. “I had to hold onto somebody. It was crazy. I was just scared I was going to trip and have anybody behind me falling. It was a great feeling. This was the perfect way [that I] envisioned my first game at Hard Rock.”

Incidentally, Jordan notices a difference in how Malik Rosier and N’Kosi Perry throw the ball.

“N’Kosi throws pretty hard [and] has such a good spiral,” he said. “At times, you have to adjust your hands with Malik.”

But Jordan made clear he likes catching passes from both of them.

How dynamic is sophomore receiver Jeff Thomas? Not only is responsible for four of the five longest Miami plays this season, but his nine plays of 20-or-more yards are more than every other Hurricane combined (seven).

Thomas led the Hurricanes with 22 such plays as a true freshman in 2017.

“Jeff is super fast, great leaping ability, can catch it with one hand, two hands,” Richt said.

Tidbits: Lorenzo Lingard’s 64-yard rush against Savannah State was the longest rush by a true freshman running back at Miami since Duke Johnson had a 65-yard carry in his freshman season finale against Duke in November of 2012. “Lorenzo has got legit big time speed,” Richt said.

…. UM really likes how freshman defensive tackle Nesta Silvera played in his first meaningful game action. Even beyond the blocked punt, “Jade flashed,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “I thought he showed up, I thought he was very productive on third down and he showed that he could make a play.”…

Garvin is the first Hurricane to have two single-game performances of at least 3.0 tackles for loss in a single season since Diaz and Richt came to UM in 2016. Garvin did it against both LSU and Savannah State.

Richt’s 20-8 record through the first 28 games of his head coaching tenure at Miami is the fourth-best start of any Hurricanes head coach ever, trailing only Larry Coker (27-1), Dennis Erickson (25-3) and Jimmy Johnson (21-7).

Saturday’s opponent, Toledo, is 1-0 after a 66-3 win against Virginia Military on Sept. 1.

“They can score for sure, are really good offensively,” Richt said on WQAM. “They lost a really good quarterback but the next guy comes in and plays well. And they’re a [2017 conference] championship team, a team that wins. You have to beat them, they’re not going to beat themselves. And they had an open date, have been preparing for us probably all summer and now the last two weeks, so who knows what we’ll get and have to sort out as we go.”

The Canes opened as a 9.5-point favorite at the Wynn hotel and casino in Las Vegas, per broadcaster Andy Slater.

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