Miami heads to Pittsburgh after turbulent week

N'Kosi Perry (5) will make his third consecutive start of the season against Pitt on Saturday. Photo credit: Josh Halper

After suffering a close loss last week, Miami has had to deal with a lot of problems this week heading into Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Panthers.

The status of running back DeeJay Dallas, who injured his knee in the first quarter against Georgia Tech, is still up in the air. Michael Pinckney is doubtful to play and head coach Manny Diaz announced that Zach McCloud will start for him against Pitt, using his last game to retain redshirt eligibility. Tate Martell will also not travel the team due to a medical leave of absence.

Miami will also be short-handed at the receiver position.

Receiver Jeff Thomas, who was suspended for the Georgia Tech game for a violation of team rules, will not travel with the team to Pittsburgh.

Sophomore receiver Brian Hightower announced Monday on Twitter that he had entered the transfer portal. Hightower has had eight receptions for 88 yards in the two games he has played this season.

Diaz announced Friday that N’Kosi Perry, who is still suffering from a separated left (non-throwing) shoulder, will make his third consecutive start this Saturday.

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N'Kosi Perry (5) will make his third consecutive start of the season against Pitt on Saturday. Photo credit: Josh Halper

“Based on the strength of his preparation throughout the week, we feel that N’Kosi gives us the best chance to win at Pittsburgh,” Diaz said.

Perry has taken over at quarterback since Jarren Williams has been dealing with an upper extremity injury suffered against Virginia Tech. Both Perry and Williams are cleared to play this weekend.

This trip to Pittsburgh will have a very different feeling from the game two years ago, when the Hurricanes were ranked second in the country and had a perfect 10-0 record, but ultimately fell 24-14.

Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett, a junior, is familiar with the Hurricanes after he led Pitt to the 2017 victory. This season, Pickett has thrown for 1,602 yards and will present a tough challenge for Miami’s defense.

“Their quarterback has a really strong arm and can make any throw on the field,” Miami defensive coordinator Blake Baker said.

The matchup against the Pitt’s defense will also yet again be a major test for the young Hurricanes offensive line.

The Panther’s defense has totaled 36 sacks so far this season and is ranked first in the nation in sacks, averaging just over five a game. This could become a major challenge for Miami who has two quarterbacks battling injuries.

“It’s a great challenge there’s no doubt, they have been on fire upfront getting after the quarterback,” Diaz said.

This will be Miami’s first road game since Sept. 7 at North Carolina.

The Miami Hurricanes will face the Pittsburgh Panthers Oct. 26 at 12 p.m. at Heinz Field. The game will be televised on ESPN.