Here's a quick preview of what could be in store next Wednesday, National Signing Day.
> NOTE: I wore the old Cubs jersey in honor of the late great Ernie Banks.
An update from the University of Miami on junior DB Ladarius Gunter:
"Ladarius Gunter has been released from the hospital this evening following an upper extremity injury he suffered Saturday afternoon against Virginia. He will be able to play football again this season once he is fully healed."
Here is what Al Golden said after Saturday's 45-26 win over Virginia.
On defensive changes in successful third quarter...
“If I’m not mistaken, their first first down was the penalty on [Rayshawn] Jenkins. They had a first down on the play and then we gave them 15 [yards]. We stopped the run good in the third quarter, and obviously 90 plays [means] we’re just not converting enough on offense. We’re not holding the ball enough to help the defense. Defense I thought really played their tails off with the takeaways and the way they played the third quarter.”
On the injury of cornerback Ladarius Gunter...
“Ladarius has been taken to Jackson [Memorial Hospital] for observation. We’re just being cautious. As soon as we learn something, we’ll share it with you guys. I don’t have anything other than that. He was moving everything, he was conscious. I don’t want to overstep my bounds here. That’s where we’re at with it now. Hopefully he’ll be okay.”
On the play of his team’s defense, which had four takeaways...
“It was big. Early in the year, we were counterpunching really well if the offense made a mistake or special teams made a mistake. During this stretch, we haven’t been counterpunching as well as we have needed to. I thought defense counterpunched so much better today. We made a mistake and they went out there and they had a different look than they’ve had. They didn’t get disappointed, they weren’t, ‘here we go again.’ It wasn’t that mentality. Obviously it’s been tough on the seniors and the team - the courage to keep mustering it up and all of that. The seniors have never been 8-3. They’ve never been 8-3. Now they’re 8-3 we have a tough road game against Pitt, try to end up with a win there, and obviously the seniors haven’t won a bowl game and have not been able to go to a bowl game the last two years. They want to finish up strong.”
On if his defense took criticism personally heading into Saturday’s game...
“I’m sure they did. I hope they did. But it’s not really a function of what’s being said outside - it’s those guys that go to work every day and their standard of what’s acceptable and what’s not. We tackled better, especially in the third quarter. We ran to the ball better. We looked like we had some more energy in our pass rush today. If we didn’t get a number of [sacks], we certainly hit the quarterback a number of times. Again, just too many plays - I want to say 45 or 46 plays at the half for defense. On offense, we have to do a better job. Nobody can be out there that long, we’re just not that deep.”
On still contending for a potential trip to the ACC Championship Game...
“We just have to worry about the Pitt game. We’re going up there, and I’ve seen a lot of Pitt the last couple of weeks because of the crossover games. They have some really effective players on defense, two wideouts that are talented. It’s going to be their last game – it’s going to be a tough environment. I hope we have a team that gets on the plane and is excited about that challenge. It’s going to be a challenge for us. We have to learn how to finish the season and I think everybody is excited because we get to go to practice and we get to move the program forward, finally. We have a lot of football left, and I know the seniors feel the same way.”
On the play of wide receiver Allen Hurns over the course of the season...
“He is a testament to what we want in our program. He doesn’t really say too much. He just works every day. I can’t underscore that enough. I don’t think anyone realizes he is having a great year – not having a good year, he’s having a great year. He is self-made. He is a leader. He’s the same guy every day. He’s consistent, playing with confidence. If we tell him to play him to play special teams, he’ll special teams. If we ask him to block, he’ll block. He’s constantly talking and thinking during the game of different scenarios and different pass routes. He is what we want. When you reach that level where you just go out and play. There has been a lot of work that has been put into it. I’m proud to say that he’s really a symbol of that for us.”
On the performance of quarterback Stephen Morris...
“I thought the one he threw to Allen [Hurns] late, he just threw it. I thought he was maybe aiming a little bit earlier, and trying to be exact. I don’t know if it was the rain, but you just have to throw it. He made plays when he had to, which was great. He is going to continue to improve. At least the discussion is not about his leg anymore - we did that for two months, for eight games. The last two games he has started to move around and protect himself better. We could have helped him out a couple of times – we had a couple of drops. He’ll get better. We don’t have a lot of time to get ready for Pitt, and we’re going to need his leadership and his experience."
On how much respect he has for the seniors, who played their final home game Saturday...
“Incredible amount. More than anybody can know. The standards and expectations are high at Miami, and that’s why we all come. That’s why we want to be a part of it. We never want to drop our expectations. But for these guys to go through what they went through, none of these guys were part of the problem, but every one of them was part of the solution. They took an issue that obviously was really bad. It was toxic. They paid a dear price. They adopted the problem as their own, and ultimately delivered us out of it. This is a big part of it. We have a long way to go before anyone here is satisfied. There are so many things we have to fix on the field – no one is satisfied. But these seniors have never been 8-3. Now they have a chance to go 9-3. To do it on the back end of what they’ve been through says a lot about them. Now we have to make sure we finish strong.”
On how excited he is for the seniors...
“I’m exhausted right now, just because it’s emotional for those guys. That’s why I try not to get involved before the game. We really saluted them Thursday night so it wasn’t right before the game Friday night. We paid our tributes to them, and a lot of them stepped up today. Whoever is better than Pat O’Donnell, I want to meet him. I was happy for him, for David Gilbert, Allen [Hurns], Stephen [Morris]. I can go on and on. Shayon [Green], Kacy Rodgers. A lot of those guys made plays when we needed them. I couldn’t be more proud of them. Now I want to make sure we stay focused and get ready for Pitt, and see if we can’t do something that we haven’t done in a while.”
On the injuries to cornerbacks Nate Dortch and Corn Elder...
“It was all corners, which was one of the reasons we couldn’t sub. I think they’re significant injuries to Nate and Corn. I don’t know to what extent. It’s not like last week somebody gets a little pull or something and you know they’ll be back on Monday. It’s not like that. I will have a better idea when I talk to you guys tomorrow.”
Hurricanes cornerback Ladarius Gunter was carted off the field late in Saturday's 45-26 win over Virginia with a neck injury. But according to early reports the injury does not appear to be life threatening or serious.
Gunter was hurt after attempting to make a tackle on Virginia's final score of the game. WQAM reported Gunter was hit in the jaw by a shoulder pad. He fell to the ground moments later and was surrounded by teammates and medical staff before they waved over for a cart to come and take Gunter off the field.
WQAM reported Gunter was being transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The flagship radio station also reported that coach Al Golden was heard telling his players: "He's okay. He's okay."
Stay tuned for updates.
The Hurricanes (7-3, 3-3 ACC) will attempt to end a three-game losing skid against woeful Virginia (2-8, 0-6 ACC) this afternoon. Kickoff is at noon and the game can be seen on ESPNU.