Hurricanes counting on Homer to carry load with Walton out for season

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Travis Homer answered the call against Florida State, coming through with two huge first-down carries on the final drive that allowed Miami to finally snap a seven-game losing streak against its archrival.

He didn’t know at the time that he was Miami’s new starting running back.

Homer was in the game because he thought Mark Walton was out with a minor injury. Turns out, Walton needed season-ending surgery, and now No. 11 Miami may have its hopes in the hands of a sophomore running back who has been primarily a special-teams player and now finds himself as the starter on a team with Atlantic Coast Conference championship aspirations.

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“I just know that I need to step up to the position,” Homer said.

He’s someone of few words — in a three-minute interview session Tuesday, all of Homer’s answers were of the one- and two-sentence variety. He’d rather be judged by actions, and Miami (4-0, 2-0 ACC) will give him plenty of opportunity starting Saturday when the Hurricanes host Georgia Tech (3-1, 2-0) in a game that will give someone the outright Coastal Division lead.

“He’s taking it with honor,” Miami linebacker Shaquille Quarterman said. “I don’t think that’s an easy thing to do, stepping into Mark’s shoes. But he’s doing an awesome job at it. He’s a great athlete and we all believe he can do it. So he’s doing the work and we’re all behind him.”

Homer got the ball on consecutive plays with about a minute left in Miami’s win at Florida State, going for 10 yards on the first and 14 on the second — moving the Hurricanes from their own 42 to the Seminoles’ 34. Malik Rosier’s arm did the rest, first with an 11-yard completion to Braxton Berrios and then the winning TD pass to Darrell Langham from 23 yards out with 6 seconds remaining.

“One thing I love about Travis is, from Day One, he doesn’t get nervous,” offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. “If he does, he doesn’t show it. He does a great job of disguising it if he does get nervous.”

Homer came into this season with more tackles (eight) than carries (seven) in his career. He’s gotten handoffs 25 times this season as Walton’s backup, rushing for 212 yards — 8.5 per carry — and three touchdowns.

He thinks coaches have been watching.

“I hope that I’ve shown them that I’m ready to come and do what I need to do,” Homer said.

NOTES: Miami is listing OL Navaughn Donaldson (ankle) as questionable for this week. … The Hurricanes would not give out information on the status of DBs Sheldrick Redwine and Dee Delaney. Redwine has a possible concussion. “I don’t talk about all that. You guys can snoop around and figure it out,” Miami coach Mark Richt told reporters. … WR Braxton Berrios is “banged up” and wore a non-contact jersey in practice.