A day after pulling out a last-second win to remain unbeaten, No. 10 Miami got more good news, this time on the injury fronts.
Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett may be able to return this season after doctors determined he only partially tore a ligament in his left knee against North Carolina on Thursday night, and starting running back Duke Johnson was showing no ill effects after a shot to the head forced him out of the game with the Tar Heels in the early going.
Dorsett has a tear in his medial collateral ligament – a problem that may keep him out for six weeks, but isn’t as devastating as Miami originally feared.
”We’re all grateful, to be honest with you,” Miami coach Al Golden said Friday. ”It did not look good last night. It’s a four-to-six-week injury and we’re blessed. He’s fortunate. We’re all very relieved and obviously disappointed for the young man.”
Dorsett leads Miami with a 20.9 yards-per-catch average, and has a reception of at least 40 yards in four of the Hurricanes’ last five games.
”He’s worked very hard and he’s obviously going to have to go through some adversity,” Golden said. ”We’ll be there for him, but certainly it could have been far worse than that.”
Johnson ran eight times for 83 yards against North Carolina, before also getting hurt in the first quarter. With Johnson out, Miami turned to Dallas Crawford, who entered the game with 31 carries for 142 yards in his college career.
On Thursday alone, Crawford had 33 carries for 137 yards, and rushed for two scores for the fourth consecutive game, including the gamewinning touchdown with 16 seconds left for the Hurricanes (6-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
”Randy’s battled migraines his whole career,” Golden said, referring to Johnson by his given name. ”If this kind of was an onset because of that, I don’t know, I’m not the doctor. They didn’t feel comfortable allowing him to return. … That’s it. We move on. The health and welfare of our student-athletes is always primary.”
Golden said Johnson was in the team facility Friday, seeming fine.
”I think we dodged a bullet there,” Golden said.
In other injury developments coming out of the North Carolina game, safety Kacy Rodgers (ankle) may be ready to play Oct. 26 against Wake Forest, Golden said.
Thursday’s win got Miami into the theorhetical bowl-eligible category. The Nevin Shapiro booster scandal and findings of wrongdoing led to the Hurricanes self-imposing postseason bans shortly after getting win No. 6 in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. That isn’t the case this year, with the school still waiting for a decision from the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on whether more penalties are coming its way.
Miami was hoping that it would receive word from that committee within eight weeks of appearing before the panel. That meeting concluded 18 weeks ago Friday. And the school has made clear that it intends to appear in a bowl game this season, even if it has to appeal any looming sanction recommendations to make that happen.
”Hopefully we get some closure here soon,” Golden said. ”It’s not something that we can control. We can control how we play.”