The Miami Hurricanes football team is on the mend coming off a 27-24 loss to North Carolina.
Miami (2-3, 0-1) came out of Saturday’s game with the availability of key starters in question with starting offensive linemen Jakai Clark and Justice Oluwaseun and cornerback Tyrique Stevenson sustaining injuries.
Offensive lineman Zion Nelson is also working his way back from a setback on his recovery from a scope on his knee in the summer.
Following Wednesday’s practice, UM head coach Mario Cristobal announced Stevenson and Clark “look good” for this week’s match-up at Virginia Tech while Oluwaseun needs more time for a final determination.
Nelson is going to be a game time decision.
“Zion is working hard to get back on the field as soon as he can,” Cristobal said. “Right now it is a game day decision.”
Losing Clark this week would be significant because Virginia Tech runs a high pressure defensive scheme that sends blitzes from multiple different angles. Having an experienced center that is able to make calls at the line of scrimmage is valuable.
Clark has allowed seven pressures and zero sacks on the season. He was replaced on Saturday by Oregon transfer Jonathan Denis, who allowed two pressures against the Tar Heels.
Oluwaseun has allowed 12 pressures and three sacks this season. He was replaced on Saturday by Logan Sagapolu, who allowed five pressures against the Tar Heels.
Nelson played a combined 61 offensive snaps against Southern Miss and Texas A&M as a back-up, but missed the Middle Tennessee State and North Carolina games after re-aggravating his injury. Nelson came into the 2022 season with over 2,300 offensive snaps of experience at left tackle. He has played the majority of his snaps this season at right tackle.
Stevenson has played 187 defensive snaps this season, the sixth most on the team. He has been targeted 17 times in coverage, allowing eight receptions for 269 yards with two touchdowns. He has picked off one pass and totaled ten tackles.
Read on for more news, notes, and quotes from Cristobal’s session with the media following Wednesday’s practice.
– Miami has rushed for 51 yards per game while averaging 1.6 yards per carry over the past two games. Cristobal is focused on getting the run game back in sync. “It is a combination of things. I think we are out of sync. I think we have to block better and work at technique and fundamentals—especially when you have some plus-one stuff in the box and see pressures and movement. We have to get everybody in sync and it is tied into our RPO game to put guys in conflict. Nobody is going to deny that we have to improve.”
– Safeties James Williams and Kamren Kinchens have impressed Cristobal with the way they have played a difficult position while being young in their college careers. “They are very, very young. For guys at that stage in their careers to take on these roles, in my opinion it is really impressive and hard to do. They play a position that requires a lot of mental gymnastics at times. They have to line people up and make sure if something isn’t right, they have to make it right. That is balancing a lot.”
– Cristobal also praised Avantae Williams, Al Blades Jr., and Brian Balom for how they are looking this season as well.
– Cristobal estimated about 20 percent of the UM organization has ever been to Blacksburg, Virginia for a game and understands the type of environment Miami will see on Saturday. Miami has prepared this week for a loud environment at Lane Stadium. “Any time you are going into an environment like this, you practice with noise. It is a great atmosphere. A lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm. They play great at home. Their defense causes a lot of issues and turnovers. Their special teams sets them up with great field position and their offense is coming off one of its best games.”
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