CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — With two consecutive losses and two ailing quarterbacks, the Miami Hurricanes are hurting.
Starter Ryan Clement, recovering from a shoulder separation, took just one snap in practice Tuesday and dropped the ball in obvious pain. Backup Scott Covington sat out the workout after spending the previous night in the hospital with a stubborn virus and a partially collapsed lung.
If neither can play Saturday night at unbeaten and 12th-ranked West Virginia, the 25th-ranked Hurricanes will turn to 18-year-old freshman Steve Kelly, who has yet to play in a game.
“Of course I’m a little nervous,” Kelly said.
The timing couldn’t be worse for a quarterback crisis. Following losses to Florida State and East Carolina, the Hurricanes (4-2) are in danger of losing three in a row for the first time since 1984-85.
“We’ve got to win this game,” Clement said of the matchup with the Mountaineers (7-0).
Coach Butch Davis said Monday that he anticipated Covington making his first career start, but the sophomore spent that night in the hospital. Doctors treating his virus found a spot on his left lung, and when they took a biopsy, the lung partially collapsed.
For Covington, who has had a cough for a couple of weeks, the good news was that biopsy results were negative.
“Probably that spot is some pneumonia or bronchitis I’ve had for a long time,” he said. “I’ve been short of breath since Saturday.”
Covington was uncertain about practicing Wednesday.
The ailment prompted him to visit the emergency room Saturday prior to Miami’s 31-6 loss to East Carolina. When Clement separated his left (non-throwing) shoulder in the second quarter, Covington came off the bench and played the entire second half despite his ailment.
“I just kind of rode it out,” Covington said.
Kelly led most of practice Tuesday. Clement participated in individual and 7-on-7 passing drills, but when he took a snap, his shoulder hurt.
“It’s tender,” he said. “That snap was pretty nasty.”
Clement said his participation in practice will likely be limited all week, but he expects to start.
“Right now, with the way my mind is, Saturday is a definite go for me, especially with the wonders of modern medicine,” he said.
“With things going the way they’ve been going, we need a lot of leadership. I need to lead the way, and a lot of other guys do, too.”
The Hurricanes have scored just six points in the past six quarters, and they’ll face a West Virginia defense that has allowed just six touchdowns in seven games.
Davis can only hope that Clement and Covington heal quickly.
“I’ve got every confidence in the world that both those guys have a chance to play on Saturday,” he said. “And I’ve got faith in Steve. Whatever happens, we’re going to go up there and play.”