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DB's Gunter, Elder and Dortch to miss game against Pitt; WR Dorsett to return; Golden pleased after victory.

Miami coach Al Golden confirmed on Sunday afternoon that Ladarius Gunter, Corn Elder and Nate Dortch would not be available to Miami for its game against Pittsburgh on Friday. However, Golden did say that Gunter should be available for Miami's upcoming bowl game. Elder and Dortch will continue to be evaluated. Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett will play on Friday against the Panthers.

Al Golden shaking hands with Mike London after the game on Saturday
Al Golden shaking hands with Mike London after the game on Saturday
Mike Ehrmann

Defensive back Ladarius Gunter, who left the game on a stretcher Saturday afternoon, will not play on Friday against the University of Pittsburgh, but will be available to play in Miami's upcoming bowl game.

"We are going to weigh in on the side of being prudent," Miami coach Al Golden said on Sunday. "He'll visit with the doctors on Monday. He's out for Pitt."

Antonio Crawford and Kacy Rodgers II will step in and start for Gunter.  Artie Burns, who has also been sidelined with an injury, will be back and will play against Pittsburgh.  He will get a lot of reps. Walk-on Keion Berry, son for former UM great Kenny Berry, will have a chance to get playing time as will Larry Hope and Hugo Delapenha.

"I hope Larry is ready to step up," Golden said. "Hugo and Keion all worked there.  We need some to step up and take reps both there and on special teams."

The status of Corn Elder and Nate Dortch will be evaluated on a daily basis and no decision has been made on their availability for a bowl game.

"It was scary (watching them take Gunter off the field on a stretcher) for us to watch," Golden said. "We always want to protect the health, safety and welfare of the participants.  You want to be real cautious.  Ladarius will be back for the bowl game."

Golden did say that wide receiver Phillip Dorsett would be available to the Canes on Friday.  He warmed up with the team and dressed on Saturday, but it was predetermined that he would not play against Virginia.

"I think he will get action this week," Golden said. "We did not intend to play him against Virginia. We just wanted to give him an opportunity to throw and catch with his teammates."

In evaluating the game against Virginia, Golden was quick to praise fifth-year senior punter Pat O'Donnell who gave the Cavaliers fits all afternoon with his booming punts that traveled great distances and pinned Virginia deep in their own end.  Five of his seven punts were buried inside the 20.

"Like I said after the game, if there is anyone better at what they do than Pat O'Donnell, I'd like to meet him," Golden said. "He takes a lot of pride in his craft. He works religiously on it.  He changes the field for us.  I do not think that anyone can execute a punt or kickoff better than him."

O'Donnell averaged an amazing 49.1 yards on seven punts.

The coach also showed a lot of praise for corner back Tracy Howard who jumped the route on the game's opening play, intercepted the pass and returned it for a touchdown which set the tone for the game.

"What you are starting to see if Tracy mature," Golden said. "He's playing fast and up tempo and not worrying about things he cannot control.  He was in the right call and completed on the play.  He got us momentum right out of the gate. We are excited about Tracy's growth and maturity as a player."

Golden said that while the Canes were better in the second half on defense, Virginia's 91 plays were far too many for any one defense to have to defend.

"We are on the field too much on defense. Ninety-one plays are too many," Golden said. "Mark make some good adjustments at halftime and the guys came up with some negative stops.  They really stepped up and made plays and kept us out of a bad situation."

For the first time, Golden spoke in a negative fashion about the offensive line, which has been considered as one of the best in the country.  He said that they were too inconsistent and made too many mistakes.  Brandon Linder, who was called out by Golden last week as having an exceptional season, was flagged for back to back penalties Saturday afternoon.

"We were way too inconsistent on the offensive line. We have to find a running game in this environment and Saturday we just did not do that," Golden said. "We didn't make enough key blocks. It was more often than usual. We had more negative runs than usual."

Danny Isidora, who played for the first time this season at right guard, is listed this week as the backup at the position and is expected to get some reps at Pitt.  Isidora was out all season with a lower extremity injury.

Golden is excited about the opportunities that are being presented to the Canes starting with this week's game at Pitt.  Everyone in the locker room knows that the difference between bowl bids could surface with a win or a loss this week.

"We have to stay focused on the prize this weekend against Pittsburgh," Golden said. "There is still a lot left to play for."

The Canes will travel to Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving Day.  They will have a team meal Thursday night and give Thanks.

"We are grateful for the blessings that have been bestowed upon us as a team," Golden said. "We will have a team meal, it won't be as good as mom's or grandma's, but it will be good."