« What do you think about the Irish coming to the ACC? Miami Hurricanes approve. | Main | Gameday blog: Bethune-Cookman vs. UM »

Dorsett, receivers eager to get vertical passing game going; say they will step up with Hurns out

Ah, the deep ball. The nine route. The play every receiver can't wait to have called for them.

Hurricanes sophomore wide out Phillip Dorsett is patiently waiting for it. But he wouldn't mind if Jedd Fisch decides this Saturday against Bethune-Cookman is a good time to finally go back to it.

"I'm not really itching for it," Dorsett said of the deep route with a smile. "Whatever coach Fisch calls -- he's a good offensive coordinator -- whatever he calls we just try to take advantage of it. [Long pause] But hey, I like the deep ball."

Through two weeks, UM's passing offense has done a pretty good job being efficient. Running primarily short and intermediate routes, quarterback Stephen Morris has completed 47 of 71 attempts (66.2 percent) for 422 yards and a touchdown and one interception. Even backup Ryan Williams came in and went 2 for 2 with a pair of short passes before tossing a touchdown.

But lethal? That's a word you couldn't use to describe the Hurricanes' pass offense, which went deep quite a bit last year when Tommy Streeter was around, but has yet to do so this year.

Outside of a 56-yard catch and run by tight end Clive Walford, only two other UM receivers have caught a pass of 20 yards or more. Leading receiver Allen Hurns, who will miss this week's game recovering from a concussion, hauled in a 22-yarder at Boston College to convert a 3rd and 16. Sophomore Rashawn Scott, who hauled in a 25-yard pass shortly before halftime while UM was in a two-minute offense at Kansas State, is the other.

"We have to do a better job vertically," coach Al Golden said Tuesday. "We're getting the ball to a variety of players and we're catching in-cuts better than we did a year ago. We're catching the ball across the middle better than we did a year ago. But have we put it all together yet? No we have not."

Whenever Fisch has called a pass on 3rd and long, Hurns has usually been UM's go-to-man. But with Hurns out this week, Fisch said he's counting on others like Scott to step up and make tough cathches. Dorsett made one last week -- a leaping catch over the middle on third down to convert. This week, Dorsett expects Scott to be able to deliver, too -- now that the jitters are out of his system.

"Just being able to get that nervousness out of him from his first game is a big thing," Dorsett said. "I know how that feels. He's going to step his game up."

Dorsett, who injured his groin on the opening series of the game last year against Bethune-Cookman, said whether its him, Scott, freshman Malcolm Lewis or seniors Davon Johnson or Kendall Thompkins, or the tight ends, he's confident Morris will get the ball where it needs to be on Saturday for the receivers to make plays.

"Stephen has the arm to be able to make any throw," Dorsett said. "He fits them into tight windows and can get it over the top, which we haven't done yet, but we're hoping we get to this Saturday."

Morris said on a teleconference the week that the key for UM's offense is "not to force anything."

"Our biggest thing is to play within the system and when the deep opportunity presents itself, we'll definitely take it," he said. "We have a lot of speed and a lot of athleticism at the receiver position, the running back position and the tight end position.

"I'm never concerned about the deep shot. I think teams are more concerned about it than we are because the defenses that they play against us sort of allow us to do both."


> As expected, there were no surprises on Thursday's injury report. Linebacker Raphael Kirby (knee), defensive tackle Curtis Porter (appendectomy), receiver Allen Hurns (concussion) and Vaughn Telemaque (knee) will all miss Saturday's game against Bethune-Cookman.

> Is freshman Deon Bush ready to make his first start? "I feel like I'm ready, I'm prepared. I don't really feel that pressure because I've got guys by my side," Bush said. "I can just lay my brick."

> Senior Kendal Thompkins has two catches for three yards this season and at least two drops.

Asked about his struggles, Thompkins said: "At this point, I just think it's all mental man. My preparation going into the games is there. But maybe I'm not going fully confident or I'm not fully prepared like I have to be... It's very frustrating because you're expecting to do well. But when the game time comes, you could drop a ball and it just really messes with you man. It's very frustrating."