The Hurricanes will be without another major offensive contributor for the ACC Championship Game against Clemson.
UM announced Wednesday afternoon that standout wide receiver Ahmmon Richards will miss the rest of the year after injuring a meniscus in his left knee during that morning’s practice. He will have surgery this week.
Previously, a report from the Miami Herald said Richards was carted off the practice field. Coach Mark Richt did not address the situation when he met with reporters Wednesday.
The seventh-ranked Hurricanes (10-1, 7-1 ACC), who meet top-ranked Clemson (11-1, 7-1) in Charlotte on Saturday (8 p.m., ABC), will be without standout senior tight end Chris Herndon, who injured his knee last Friday at Pittsburgh. Sophomore Michael Irvin will start in his place.
The Hurricanes have been without star running back Mark Walton since Oct. 7, when he injured his right ankle and had season-ending surgery.
Richards, who set a UM freshman record for receiving yards (934) last season, has struggled this year with hamstring, ankle and Achilles’ injuries. Missing three games and playing sparingly in several others, he has 439 yards and three touchdowns on 24 catches.
When he spoke to the media after Tuesday’s practice, Richards said he was “feeling better” and was excited about the possibility of making an impact in UM’s first ACC title game appearance.
“I feel like I’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity,” he said. “A big game, I’ve got to step up [if we] want to get the win.”
With Richards out, UM will rely more on juniors Darrell Langham and Dayall Harris, sophomore Lawrence Cager, and true freshmen Jeff Thomas, Mike Harley and running back/receiver DeeJay Dallas.
“All true freshmen, rarely do they have a year like an Ahmmon,” Richt said, when asked about Thomas. “The freshmen that are playing now, a year from now, they’ll be so much better at what they do.”
Senior receiver Braxton Berrios also expressed confidence in Irvin, who has five career receptions.
“It’s just football,” said Berrios, who has a team-high 583 yards and nine touchdowns on 45 catches this year. “He’s thrown into the starting role right now. It’s shocking when you have, I’m going to go ahead and say it, an All-American tight end in front of you. You get some plays and you might be tired, but then all of a sudden you have those shoes to fill. We don’t want him to be Chris Herndon. I don’t think he can be. He can only be Michael Irvin. Whatever he can do to help us win, he’ll do. It’s just football. He knows what to do.”
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