Injuries hurt depth for No. 24 Miami ahead of Michigan St. game

The No. 24 Miami Hurricanes, unimpressive in both of their games this season, will look to reverse that trend on Saturday afternoon.Miami (1-1) will play host to Michigan State (2-0), whose have beaten Northwestern and Youngstown State to start the season.Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz has high praise for the Spartans, who have scored on their first play from scrimmage in both their games. Kenneth Walker III had a 75-yard run against Northwestern, and Payton Thorne fired a 75-yard TD pass to Jayden Reed on the opening play against Youngstown State.”Michigan State is playing as well as anybody in the country,” Miami coach Manny Diaz said. “It’s going to be a great challenge.”Miami is a 6 1/2-point favorite despite getting blown out by Alabama, 44-13, in its opener and then barely escaping Appalachian State, 25-23, this past Saturday.Led by quarterback D’Eriq King, the Canes have an experienced team. King will be playing in his 48th career game, and he has veteran targets such as running back Cam’Ron Harris, tight end Will Mallory and receivers Mike Harley and Charleston Rambo.But the Hurricanes have some issues, including their questionable depth behind Harris. Backup Donald Chaney Jr. was ruled out for the season on Monday due to a right knee injury. Jaylan Knighton, Miami’s other proven backup, has to serve two more games of a suspension for violating team rules.Touted freshmen Thaddius Franklin Jr. and Cody Brown are expected to get carries on Saturday. Brown, so far, is running with the second team.”It’s not just as easy as running the ball. You’ve got pass protection involved,” Miami offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. “We’re working hard to get them ready.”Miami also lost starting linebacker Keontra Smith to injury during the Appalachian State game, and he won’t play for several weeks.Fifth-year junior Waynmon Steed is next in line to replace Smith. Third-year freshman Avery Huff is also in the mix.Michigan State, meanwhile, ranks third in the nation in rushing yards per carry (8.0). That’s in stark contrast to Miami’s running offense, averaging just 3.5 yards.

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