CORAL GABLES — The top cornerback is grieving the sudden death of his mother. The quarterback is concussed and at best questionable to play this weekend. The coach was fired. The staff faces an uncertain future. The program is reeling.
Miami returned to the practice field Tuesday after three painful days. Interim coach Larry Scott led practice for the first time, replacing Al Golden, fired Sunday. Injured quarterback Brad Kaaya was absent, and hours earlier, cornerback Artie Burns' mother had died unexpectedly.
"We have their hearts, and we have their minds," Scott said. "We can overcome anything if we stay together. And I think this group will."
The dominoes started falling Saturday when Miami lost to Clemson 58-0, the worst defeat in program history. Kaaya's injury came in that game when Clemson rushed two defensive ends against five offensive linemen and still got a sack, one that means the Hurricanes could have redshirt freshman Malik Rosier backed up by true freshman Evan Shirreffs this weekend at No. 22 Duke.
Sunday, Golden's firing was announced, followed by a teary team meeting with the now former coach. Monday, Burns' mother, Dana Smith, had a heart attack, and coaches — also dealing with the funeral of a staff member's relative — gathered and kept vigil at a Miami hospital before word came that she had died at age 44.
Golden was there, still concerned for his former player and staff.
"It's been real difficult," said defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, a longtime friend and confidante of Golden's. "But we have a team, we have unity, we have everybody together, and we're all rallying together like we said we would from the beginning of the season. … Our No. 1 thing right now is we support our players and we support Artie and his family. It's been a lot to deal with."
Burns, Kaaya and receiver Rashawn Scott — also injured in the loss to Clemson — didn't practice Tuesday. Burns' status for this weekend was unknown. Scott has not been ruled out, and the Hurricanes have receiver depth.
But not having Kaaya would be a massive blow.
Kaaya has made 20 consecutive starts for Miami and thrown for 1,846 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions in 229 attempts this season. Rosier has completed 9 of 28 passes for 66 yards with two interceptions this season. Shirreffs has not made his college debut.
Meanwhile, Penn State coach James Franklin said he's staying put despite a report by cbssports.com that he's interested in the Miami job.
Two Bulls back at practice
TAMPA — USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (left thigh bruise) and tailback D'Ernest Johnson (knee) returned to practice, a sign that both could be healthy enough to return for Saturday's game at Navy.
Coach Willie Taggart said Flowers participated in 7-on-7 drills with the offense and Johnson did jogging exercises. Both were hurt late in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 38-14 victory over SMU and were held out of Sunday's workout because of lingering soreness.
"They both ran around with the trainers, and I really felt a lot better seeing them do that," Taggart said. "Watching them walk around (Monday), I didn't have a really good feeling about it. But seeing those guys come out (Tuesday) and being able to jog on it, that was very encouraging."
STILL TEACHING: After a third USF player was arrested this month, Taggart said he and his staff must continue to teach players and hold them accountable.
Freshman receiver Deangelo Antoine was arrested shortly after midnight Sunday and charged with felony possession of a controlled substance. Offensive lineman Benjamin Knox and cornerback Lamar Robbins were arrested for discharging a firearm on campus hours after a win over Syracuse on Oct. 11.
All three players are suspended indefinitely from all team activities.
"We've all just got to continue to do better," Taggart said. "Our assistant coaches have got to do better, I've got to do better, and the big thing, make sure we understand and know our guys. … The more we know about them, the more we can be proactive and probably understand and know some things before they do happen."
MISSOURI: Quarterback Maty Mauk was reinstated from a suspension for violation of team rules. It was not known whether Mauk would start the next game, Nov. 5.
ESCORT INVESTIGATION: Katina Powell is unlikely to cooperate with authorities and the NCAA unless she receives immunity for her allegations that a former Louisville staff member hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players, her attorney, Larry Wilder, said.
WOMEN: Hall of Fame player John Stockton joined Montana State as an assistant coach for this season. Stockton's daughter, Lindsay, is a senior guard for the Bobcats.
Times correspondent Jeff Odom contributed to this report.