Miami Hurricanes scrambling in seconday due to injuries as they prepare for Pitt’s talented WR duo

As Miami coach Al Golden knows, facing Pittsburgh’s offense is no easy task.

“Big offensive line, big running backs, play-action game and a quarterback like (Tom) Savage that can deliver it down the field,” Golden said. “(Devin) Street and (Tyler) Boyd are as good as any tandem at wideout we’ve seen all year. Excellent group.”

The task will be tough this week — and Pitt’s talent is not the only reason.

The Hurricanes (8-3, 4-3 ACC), looking to close out their regular season with a victory and protect their unlikely chances of winning an ACC Coastal title, will do so with a patchwork crew of cornerbacks. On Monday, UM announced freshman Corn Elder and redshirt freshman Nate Dortch will miss the rest of the season due to injuries suffered in Saturday’s 45-26 home win over Virginia.

Also out this week is junior Ladarius Gunter, who suffered a strained neck against the Cavaliers and was airlifted to a Miami trauma center. Gunter, who was released from the hospital soon after the injury, was with teammates Monday and in good spirits, Golden said. He could return for UM’s late-December bowl game.

Not so for Elder, who has a slight tear in the meniscus of his right knee. Dortch’s injury is unknown, but he was seen limping off the field against Virginia, favoring his left leg. UM said both players will soon have surgeries.

“Disappointed for both of them because both were starting to come on,” Golden said. “I also feel badly for Corn because I know he was anxious to play basketball.” Elder, who is on a football scholarship, was expected to compete for playing time at point guard for UM’s basketball team.

Asked if both players could return for spring football, which begins in March, Golden only said, “It’ll be a couple of months for both of them.”

That leaves UM to rely more on sophomore Tracy Howard, who on Monday was named the ACC’s co-defensive back of the week for the first time in his career. The Miramar High product returned an interception 19 yards for a touchdown on the game’s first play against Virginia. He leads the team with four interceptions.

Seeing more time will be sophomore Antonio Crawford, who began the season playing as part of UM’s nickel package but has seen more work of late. Little-used redshirt freshman Larry Hope is also a candidate to play more.

Golden is hoping promising freshman Artie Burns, who suffered an ankle injury two weeks ago against Duke and missed the Virginia game, could return Friday. He “looked really good today, so that was a relief for everybody,” the coach said.

UM is so thin at corner that it moved senior safety Kacy Rodgers II to help out.

At Southlake (Texas) Carroll High, Rodgers was a four-star cornerback recruit ranked 14th in the nation at the position by He switched to safety when he enrolled in 2010 and hasn’t played cornerback in a game at UM, but Golden said the transition for Rodgers would be “seamless.”

“For a lot of players, tough. For Kacy, no,” Golden said of Rodgers, the son of Miami Dolphins defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers. “He’s seen and heard it all on the back end.”

After Monday’s practice, Rodgers said it was strange “getting out there on an island,” but he was “excited to do the best I can.”

Pitt (6-5, 3-4) boasts two of the ACC’s top pass-catching threats in Street, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound senior, and Boyd, a 6-2, 185-pound freshman. They have combined for 1,757 yards and 13 touchdowns — approximately 70 percent of Pitt’s passing offense.

Howard said he isn’t worried.

“They’ve got two good receivers,” he said. “But I feel like we’ve got good people. … I think it will be a great matchup.”