UM Football News & Notes: 11/15

Miami coach Randy Shannon insists junior quarterback Jacory Harris will be the starter when he is cleared by the team's medical staff following the concussion he sustained against Virginia.

But freshman Stephen Morris continues to make a strong case that the job should be his.

Morris, who nearly rallied the Hurricanes to a fourth-quarter comeback win against Virginia on the day Harris went down, engineered his second consecutive win in as many starts as the Hurricanes handled Georgia Tech 35-10.

With a patient approach and an interception-free game, he didn't need the last-minute heroics required in his previous start against Maryland, when he threw a late touchdown pass for the 26-20 win.

Morris threw only 18 passes, completing 10 for 230 yards and a touchdown, against Georgia Tech. In two games as a starter, he is 28 of 48 for 516 yards and two touchdowns. He also has thrown two interceptions, both against Maryland.

Harris, meanwhile, has not been able to practice since his injury.

Part of the reason for Morris' success can be attributed to the continued development of the running game.

Digging deep to use four running backs, the Hurricanes ran for 277 yards against the Yellow Jackets. Lamar Miller led with 85 yards, but Damien Berry was right behind with 73 and Mike James had 60.

Graig Cooper, who has been fighting back from a serious knee injury sustained in last season's bowl game, had four carries for 20 more.

The week before, the Hurricanes ran for 218 yards against Maryland.

"At the end of the season, if you can run the football, you can probably win a lot of games that way," Shannon said. "We felt like as of the last couple of weeks, we've been doing a great job on the double teams with blocks and getting in a rhythm running the football.

"Now it makes it easy for Stephen as far as his throws -- the outs, the quicks, the deep ball -- to really, really blossom."

That progress looks to be put to a test in the Hurricanes' next outing. Miami plays host to Virginia Tech, which will be looking to clinch the Coastal Division title and berth in the ACC championship game.

Miami, which has only a non-conference game against USF left after that, needs not only a win over the Hokies but also a Virginia Tech loss the following week against Virginia to make it to the conference title game for the first time.


--Senior LB Colin McCarthy had a great day for the Hurricanes, leading all tacklers with a career-high 15 stops. But he was denied his second career touchdown by a booth review after returning a fumble 41 yards for an apparent touchdown late in the first quarter. The replay official determined that Tech RB Roddy Jones' knee had hit the ground before he lost control of the football, negating McCarthy's recovery and return. McCarthy had a touchdown as a sophomore when he returned a fumble 27 yards in a win over Florida State in 2007.

--Miami made a big improvement in the penalty department. After being penalized 22 times in the previous two games combined, the Hurricanes were penalized only four times for 31 yards at Georgia Tech.

--The Hurricanes had 10 tackles for loss against the Yellow Jackets, including two sacks against a run-oriented Tech team that threw only 16 passes.

GAME BALL GOES TO: WR Leonard Hankerson -- The senior caught his 11th touchdown pass of the season, tying Michael Irvin's school record. The score came on a 79-yard play with Hankerson making the reception at his 31-yard line and sprinting the rest of the 69 yards. For the game, he had three receptions for 132 yards.

KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Storm Johnson -- A true freshman who has been used on kickoff returns (seven for a 19.7 average), Johnson got his second carry from scrimmage of the season and gained 21 yards.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We had 10 tackles for loss, which I think is tremendous when you've playing an option team to have that many tackles for loss in a game like that." -- Coach Randy Shannon, praising his team's defensive effort in the 35-10 win over Georgia Tech.


LOOKING GOOD: The Hurricanes punished the Yellow Jackets with their running game, gaining 277 yards and actually averaging more per carry (6.0) than the Jackets did with their triple option (5.2). No back reached 100 yards, but three (Lamar Miller 85, Damien Berry 73, and Mike James 60) combined for 218. QB Stephen Morris threw for 230 yards on 10-of-18 passing and didn't have an interception. WRs Travis Benjamin (four catches for 64 yards) and Leonard Hankerson (three catches for 132 yards) had 196 of the receiving total. LB Colin McCarthy had another double-digit game in tackles with 15, and LB Sean Spence had 11. Three of Spence's stops were for losses.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The Hurricanes fumbled three times and lost two (Berry and Miller), and they were a mediocre 3-for-10 on third-down conversions.


--DE Josh Holmes, who has missed four of the last five games because of a knee injury, was back in action. He had two tackles against Georgia Tech.
--RB Damien Berry returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous week's game because of illness. He had 15 carries for 73 yards, scoring on a 5-yard run.

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