Miami's worst fears were confirmed Sunday morning when the Canes learned that Randy "Duke" Johnson will miss the remainder of the season with a fractured right ankle. Johnson suffered the injury in the second half of UM's 41-14 loss at Florida State Saturday night.
"We are disappointed for Randy. We feel bad for the young man. He was really starting to emerge," Miami coach Al Golden said Sunday afternoon. "He was learning how to convert his talent to skill. He was really starting to impose himself at will."
Miami will now turn to Dallas Crawford, Eduardo Clements and Gus Edwards. Crawford led Miami to a big come-from-behind win at North Carolina when he rushed for 137 yards in Johnson's absence.
"This is going to be a big challenge for us. Next man in mentality. Somebody else needs to step up, whether it is Dallas Crawford, Eduardo Clements or Gus Edwards. It might even be Mo Hagens from the fullback position."
Golden said that freshman Walter Tucker might even see extended repetitions at tailback.
"All three of those guys, and Walter Tucker will train at tailback and they will be ready for the opportunity."
Johnson was also involved on special teams. Artie Burns and Stacey Coley will continue to line up to receive the kickoffs, but the trickle down effect, Golden said will take its toll on the Hurricanes. Whereas Crawford played a big role on special teams, that will have to be reduced so he does not get burned out as the new starting tailback.
"The biggest concern is the trickle down effect," Golden said. "Artie and Stacey can do it and so can Herb Waters."
The news of the loss of Johnson comes in the wake of the aftermath of the blowout loss in Tallahassee. Golden said that all is not doom and gloom in the building and that the players know that they still control their own destiny as far as an ACC title is concerned.
"I hope that they understand that we have to focus on what we can control," Golden said. "We want to play another six games and in order to do that we have to do things right." Golden was referring to an ACC title appearance and a bowl game, in addition to the four regular season games that Miami has remaining.
Golden said that he did not want the players to come in today, with the exception of those that needed treatment. He wanted them to put the Saturday night game to the side and concentrate on getting ready for Virginia Tech this Saturday evening.
"I closed it down," Golden said. "I did not want them to come here today. I want them fresh, want them to rest up for Virginia Tech."
Golden said that the team was not hit over the head with the fanfare that lead up to the game. He said that they embraced the challenge and that they are ready to play in more big games.
"We want to keep winning and stay in the upper echelon," Golden said. "We will continue to have these bigger games. We just have to win learn how to win them. We have to focus on Virginia Tech, clean up our mistakes and move forward."
Golden also stated that Stephen Morris' ankle injury was completely healed and that it was time to put it to rest.
"I'd like to close the chapter on the injury and focus on the mechanics."
When asked about the missed field goal by Matt Goudis on Miami's first drive, Golden said that it was a timing and mechanical issue that caused the miss. It is something that they will continue to work on in practice.
"Matt jumped the gun so to speak," Golden said. "He missed it by a hundredth of a second. It all comes down to mechanics. He hesitated and it threw off his timing."