College Sports

Good news for Miami Hurricanes during FSU week. Why Canes fans should be optimistic

University of Miami coach Mark Richt made sure preseason All-American safety Jaquan Johnson did not play the past two games after he injured his right hamstring just before halftime at Toledo on Sept. 15.

Smart move.

The No. 17 Canes (4-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are preparing to meet arch-rival Florida State (3-2, 1-2) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (ABC) at Hard Rock Stadium. UM is a 12 1/2-point favorite.

Johnson, a senior who is considered one of the top safeties in college football, on Tuesday appeared to return fully to practice — at least during the media’s 15 minutes of viewing.

And more good news for the No. 17 Canes and their fans: Starting middle linebacker Shaq Quarterman, who sprained his ankle, according to Richt, last Thursday against North Carolina and is also considered an elite player nationally, participated in practice, although not quite as intensely as Johnson during media viewing.

Quarterman’s ankles did not appear to be taped, and he was gingerly going through noncontact drills.

Keep in mind that it rained at Greentree Field this morning and the grass was plenty slippery.

Quarterman, a junior, leads the Canes with 27 tackles. He also has 6 1/2 tackles for loss, three sacks, a pass breakup, four quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. On Monday he was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Co-Linebacker of the Week for his outstanding performance in UM’s 47-10 victory over UNC.

Quarterman’s backup, Mike Smith, also practiced fully Tuesday. During the UNC game, Smith also was examined by medical staff after he replaced Quarterman.

As for Johnson, he has 22 tackles despite missing two-and-a-half games. He also has blocked a field goal.

On Tuesday, Johnson was running hard through his drills, which included getting past a giant tire during a tackle, running after a receiver and being tackled full force.

The one part of practice we didn’t have to watch every second: the quarterback rotation.

Redshirt freshman starter N’Kosi Perry took the first snaps.

Junior receiver Ahmmon Richards was sidelined on a conditioning bike during practice. Richt told WQAM on Monday that Richards would not be back for a while.

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