Manny Diaz’s defense hasn’t been picked apart often in his three seasons with the Miami Hurricanes, but Miami will see one of the few that has once again next Thursday. This time, however, the Wisconsin Badgers will play without the player most responsible for propelling Wisconsin’s Orange Bowl win last year.
Alex Hornibrook, who started all but three games this season for the Badgers, will miss the Pinstripe Bowl as he continues to deal with symptoms from a concussion he sustained in October. Jack Coan, who started the three games Hornibrook missed and played in four, will get the start in Hornibrook’s place, Paul Chryst told reporters Thursday in Madison, Wisconsin.
“Alex did participate in a couple weeks of bowl practices and then kind of had some reoccurring [symptoms], and we’re going with Jack,” the Wisconsin coach said.
Arguably the best game in Hornibrook’s Badgers career came last time he faced the Hurricanes. The quarterback completed 23 of 34 passes for a career-high 258 yards and four touchdowns at Hard Rock Stadium, and took home MVP honors.
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Miami, however, has been preparing in case Coan would have to start in Hornibrook’s place.
Hornibrook missed Wisconsin’s game against the Northwestern Wildcats in October with a head injury, then returned a week later against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, only to sit out the second half. He then missed the Badgers’ next two games before returning for Wisconsin’s regular-season finale against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Hornibrook went 22 of 33 for 189 in the 37-15 rivalry-game loss.
Diaz said Thursday on a Pinstripe Bowl teleconference the Hurricanes (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast) have already watched the three games Coan started. Stylistically, Wisconsin (7-5, 5-3 Big Ten) didn’t change much.
“We’ve watched those games and really, philosophically, what they did on those occasions wasn’t all that different when the other guy’s in there, so they appear to be the same offense regardless of which guy is playing,” Diaz said. “Obviously, we have a lot of respect for Hornibrook because of the way he played in our game a year ago, but the other guy’s shown he can make some things happen, as well.”
The chief concern for Miami at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, N.Y., will still be Jonathan Taylor. The All-American running back led the nation in rushing yards this season and finished ninth in Heisman Trophy voting. As a freshman in 2017, Taylor ran for 130 yards against the Hurricanes in Miami Gardens.
“Their completion percentage is 100 percent every time they turn and hand it to him,” Diaz said. “We have a lot of respect for, obviously, not just the running back, but the young tight end [Jake Ferguson], the wide receivers who made great catches against us a year ago, so this is an offense that I think it’s easy for any quarterback to kind of take the reins on because at every skill position you’ve got weapons and, obviously, of course everybody knows about the offensive line with all their current stars.”