Miami seeks bowl eligibility on Senior Night against Pittsburgh

Sixth-year redshirt senior Lou Hedley prepares to punt the ball from the endzone during Miami's loss to Florida State University on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Hard Rock Stadium. Photo credit: Alexandra Carnochan

Some Hurricanes players may play in their final collegiate game on Saturday night, and senior tight end Will Mallory is one of them.

Some Hurricanes players may play in their final collegiate game on Saturday night, and senior tight end Will Mallory is one of them.

“I hope that players and coaches and people that are around here just remember me for being a good teammate,” Mallory said to reporters. “It’s all about the people.”

Mallory has stayed through thick and thin, and he is among a small group of ‘Canes that have reached their senior season after having spent every prior year of eligibility at Miami.

“I wanted to come in here and win championships and do all that big stuff and unfortunately that didn’t happen,” Mallory said. “I know this program’s got a bright future with coach and the guys they have.”

On a unique senior night, the Hurricanes will look to beat the Pittsburgh Panthers (7-4, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)) on Saturday.

“A top-10 defense, top three in sacks and tackles for losses, defending conference champions and a really good football team,” Miami head coach Mario Cristobal said.

Miami (5-6, 3-4 ACC) is coming off a 40-10 loss to the Clemson Tigers in which the team failed to gain even 100 yards of total offense.

“They got a really good front seven, we didn’t get a ton of movement, couldn’t get the ground game going,” Cristobal said after the game.

After a tough challenge, Miami will need to beat a solid Pittsburgh team to become bowl-eligible. The Panthers hold the sixth-best offense and eighth-best defense in the ACC.

Scoring 29.8 points per game, the Panthers are led by running back Israel Abanikanda on offense. The junior has rushed for an ACC-high 1320 yards in 10 games and has a team and conference-high 18 touchdowns.

Southern California transfer Kedon Slovis has been the starter under center for Pitt but has been asked to carry less of the load. With a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 7:8, the senior quarterback has completed 57.8% of his throws for 2135 yards.

Slovis will look for his reliable senior receiver Jared Wayne. In 10 games, he has caught 44 passes for 807 yards and two touchdowns.

For Miami, a starting quarterback has not yet been announced. Starter Tyler Van Dyke has been injured but has been making progress in his recovery and may return against Pitt.

“Tyler is a great example of a guy who is a competitor and wants to do the very best by his teammates and his program,” Cristobal said.

Even then, it may be useful for Miami to continue to develop freshman Jacurri Brown. The Georgia native has now started two straight games and struggled against an elite Clemson defense but played well against Georgia Tech, throwing for three touchdowns.

No matter who starts at quarterback, the Hurricanes will look to establish the running game. The running back room has thinned with the loss of Thad Franklin, who announced his intentions to enter the transfer portal after the season. The ‘Canes will ask the mix of Henry Parrish Jr. and Jaylan Knighton to contribute at the position.

Through the air, this could be a big game for Mallory, as he leads the team with 435 receiving yards. Sophomore Colbie Young will be a receiver to watch, as he has been reliable in the red zone, scoring five touchdowns this season.

“You only have one senior year,” Cristobal said. “For a lot of guys, it’s their last collegiate home game with the opportunity to play to extend our season so there is a lot of value to this game.”

With the uncertainty of the transfer portal and the weight of a disappointing season bearing down on the ‘Canes, Miami looks to get back to a bowl game and finish Cristobal’s first season off on a high note. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.