Though the Hurricanes feel good about quarterback Brad Kaaya‘s health, they can’t say the same about right tackle Sunny Odogwu.
Coach Mark Richt said Odogwu will have surgery Wednesday to fix a broken lower leg.
“He may be back before the end of the season,” Richt said, but “it’ll be a while.”
Odogwu, the 6-foot-8, 325-pound Nigerian who has started 14 of UM’s last 18 games at right tackle, was not present at practice Tuesday. A teammate fell on his leg during UM’s 20-19 loss to Florida State on Saturday.
“We lose a lot with Sunny,” left guard Kc McDermott said. “Sunny’s a good player, great teammate. Always comes in with a smile no matter what. In ways he’s a leader. It sucks losing him. I wish him all the best with his surgery tomorrow. Other than that, it’s time tor [backup] Tyree [St. Louis] to step up. If they need to put me out there, I’ll do that without a problem.”
St. Louis has seen action as a backup at left and right tackle. Richt said the team has worked St. Louis into the lineup to take pressure off Odogwu, who tore his MCL last Nov. 27 at Pittsburgh and missed spring practice.
As for who would back up St. Louis, Richt said UM is “in the experimental stage.” McDermott, right guard Danny Isidora and left tackle Trevor Darling have played right tackle in UM games. McDermott started two games last year. Isidora started one.
If one of the guards, McDermott or Isidora, moved to tackle, the backup guards are sophomore Tyler Gauthier and senior Alex Gall. Both saw action in Miami’s blowout wins last month, but neither has done meaningful work.
The offensive line, which allowed three sacks and near-constant contact between FSU defenders and Kaaya, knows it must play better this week against North Carolina (3:3o p.m., ABC/ESPN2).
“We’ve got to look at next week,” Isidora said. “We’ve got to watch the film, correct ourselves, see where we can get better and move on. It was a tough loss, but we’ve got move on and get better.”