UM News & Notes: 11/1

The news out of Miami the day after the Hurricanes' 24-19 loss at Virginia wasn't particularly good, but it could have been much worse.

Quarterback Jacory Harris, who was knocked out of the game in the second quarter, has been diagnosed with a concussion.

"Jacory won't play until the medical staff sees fit that he's ready to go," coach Randy Shannon said. "If he's not able to play this week, we'll start off the game with Stephen Morris as our leader."

At least referring to "this week" implies a possible return for Harris either the next week or later in the month.

Morris played the second half of the loss to the Cavaliers after junior backup Spencer Whipple, who took over for Harris, threw two interceptions on his two series in the second quarter.

Sophomore A.J. Highsmith, listed as No. 2 on the depth chart, is still bothered by a sore hand and was available only in the most desperate of circumstances, Shannon said.

After a slow start, Morris rallied the Hurricanes from a 24-0 deficit as Miami pulled within five points of the Cavaliers late in the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes had time for another drive, but the defense couldn't stop the Cavaliers, who ran the last 4:39 off the clock.

Fortunately for Miami, Morris, a true freshman who was on campus last spring, wasn't completely cold when he came into the game. He had been getting some extra work over the last couple of weeks because of the situation with Highsmith's left hand.

"Luckily, I made that decision a couple of weeks ago to start getting him reps and getting him ready in case something bad happened," Shannon said of Morris, who lost his redshirt year. "He did a great job in the game."

In fact, Morris seemed ready to play the role of comeback hero until Miami's defense let the Hurricanes down on Virginia's final possession. The Cavs converted a third-and-3 and a third-and-8 in running out the clock.

"Those things make you feel real bad because we had the momentum going at that particular time and we needed to capitalize," Shannon said. "And we did not.

"That was a disappointing thing from the defensive standpoint that somebody didn't come up with a big play, a big sack or big coverage or something."

The loss dropped the Hurricanes to 5-3 for the season. At 3-2 in the ACC, they no longer control their own destiny in the Coastal Division.

Their next game is at home against Maryland, followed by a trip to Georgia Tech. The Hurricanes play host to division leader Virginia Tech, which is unbeaten in ACC play, on Nov. 20.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Miami came into the game tied for second in the nation in sacks with an average of nearly four a game but went without a sack against Virginia, which had given up 17 sacks in its first seven games. It's the second time the Hurricanes have failed to register at least one sack, the other being in the loss to Florida State.
--TB Damien Berry's streak of 100-yard rushing games ended at four when he logged only 42 yards on 11 carries against Virginia. He shared time at running back with Graig Cooper (three carries, 30 yards), Lamar Miller (6-28), and Mike James (3-24).
--LB Colin McCarthy's interception in the third quarter was Miami's 15th of the season, which is two more than the Hurricanes had in the last two years combined.

GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Stephen Morris -- Though the true freshman threw two interceptions in seeing his first action of the season, he also sparked the Hurricanes to a near-miracle comeback against Virginia. Morris (9-for-22 for 162 yards) threw for two touchdowns and ran for another before being denied a shot at the end when Miami's defense couldn't stop the Cavaliers from running out the clock.

KEEP AN EYE ON: TB Graig Cooper -- Cooper, who was coming off a knee injury when the season began, had three carries for 30 yards at Virginia. It might be worth keeping an eye on the senior to see how he is used in the crowded backfield in Miami's remaining games. He remains a primary returner on kickoffs and an option on punt returns.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's terrible. We let our brother get hurt. It just is the worst thing in the world. There's no worse feeling than seeing that and knowing that's because of the offensive line, that's because of us. I can't describe it; it's the worst feeling in the world." -- Junior C Tyler Horn, on the injury that knocked QB Jacory Harris out of the game.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

LOOKING GOOD: Things definitely picked up for the Hurricanes on offense in the fourth quarter, when freshman QB Stephen Morris threw for 150 of his 162 passing yards. WRs Leonard Hankerson and LaRon Byrd led Miami with six catches each. Hankerson had 90 yards and a touchdown receiving. Byrd had 78 yards. LB Colin McCarthy had 11 tackles and an interception, and CB Ryan Hill had 11 tackles.

STILL NEEDS WORK: Special team woes continue. PK Matt Bosher missed another extra point. He now is 26 of 29 on PATs for the season after going 90 of 90 his first two years. Three of his four punts were touchbacks, and his 61-yarder to the Virginia 13-yard line was made possible only because Chase Minnifield apparently lost the ball in the sun and failed to make the fair catch at about his 29-yard line. Miami also messed up a kickoff when Storm Johnson let a ball go out of bounds, not realizing a teammate had touched the ball. Instead of taking over at the 40, as Johnson thought they would, the Hurricanes were backed up at their own 7-yard line. The Hurricanes were penalized 12 times for 95 yards.

ROSTER REPORT:

--QB Jacory Harris (concussion) will not take part in any practices or workouts until cleared by medical personnel. Harris did not sustain any other damage to his shoulder or sternum on the hit by Virginia DT John-Kevin Dolce that knocked him out of the game in the second quarter.
--LT Orlando Franklin, who wasn't on the pregame injury report but nevertheless was considered questionable after sustaining a leg injury the week before, started and was in the regular rotation up front against Virginia.
--QB A.J. Highsmith, who has been listed as Miami's backup, was in uniform but did not play. He was listed as questionable before the game with an upper extremity injury.
--OG Joel Figueroa (lower extremity) and DT Josh Holmes (lower extremity) did not play.
--WR LaRon Byrd had a season-high 78 yards receiving on six catches.


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