Miami: News & Notes (9/28)

Miami quarterback Jacory Harris has become a magnet for criticism after throwing three interceptions in two games and then coming up short on a fourth-down run at the goal line in the loss to Kansas State.

But coach Al Golden would rather talk about the positives the senior has given the Hurricanes since sitting out the opening loss at Maryland.

"Clearly, he played well," coach Al Golden said as the Hurricanes began prepping for their home game against Bethune-Cookman.

Harris completed 21 of his 31 pass attempts for 272 yards and two more touchdowns in the 28-24 loss to K-State, giving him four TD throws in just two games.

"Right now he is close to 70 percent completion," Golden said, ticking off the positives. "He is over 50 percent on third down. He's doing excellent in the red zone. He hasn't taken a sack yet.

"Again, I always hear what he's not doing. Let's talk about what he is doing for us."

After sitting out the opener as part of a penalty for his role in the booster scandal that was unveiled just before the start of the season, Harris has thrown for nearly 400 yards in completing 37 of 54 throws in two games. More important has been his leadership.

"He's getting us in the right run checks," Golden said, noting Harris' call before running back Lamar Miller's 59-yard touchdown run and then his key pass to freshman receiver Phillip Dorsett that led to a score against K-State. "He certainly did that on Lamar's long run.

"So again, three things that I looked at that I thought he did better in the game is, he scrambled and threw one to Dorsett that led to a touchdown. He scrambled and threw one out-of-bounds. And he scrambled and actually ran the ball.

"Those are all good signs."


--Interestingly, both Miami and Bethune-Cookman are coming off games in which official replay reviews had a direct impact on the game. Bethune-Cookman got its win when the replay official negated Hampton's touchdown reception on the final play of the Wildcats' 35-31 win.

The replay cost Miami its last touchdown against Kansas State when the official overturned QB Jacory Harris' fourth-down run, ruling Harris' knee had touched the ground before he was able to stretch the ball over the goal line. The play occurred with less than a minute left.

"They got it right," coach Al Golden said of the play that cost his Hurricanes a probable win.

--Bethune-Cookman offensive coordinator Rob Spence coached wide receivers at Temple under current Miami coach Al Golden. Spence is in his first season with the Wildcats.

--After the game against the Wildcats, the Hurricanes will begin a stretch of six consecutive ACC games with trips to Virginia Tech on Oct. 8 and to North Carolina on Oct. 15. Their next home game is Oct. 22 when Georgia Tech visits.

SERIES HISTORY: This is the first meeting between Miami and Bethune-Cookman.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Miami has run the ball effectively, averaging nearly 184 yards a game on the ground mostly because of the efforts of TB Lamar Miller. Miller has two runs over better than 50 yards already this season and has rushed for 409 yards in just three games. QB Jacory Harris, who was suspended for the opener, has come back to throw for 395 yards in two games while completing 68.5 percent of his passes. He does have three interceptions, though, in his 54 attempts.

WRs Allen Hurns, Travis Benjamin, and Tommy Streeter are all effective targets, but coach Al Golden has made no secret of his desire to get the tight ends more involved in the passing game.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Miami's defense had problems handling the power running game of both Ohio State and Kansas State. The Hurricanes are giving up nearly 197 yards a game on the ground. LB Sean Spence has given the unit a nice boost, but the Hurricanes are going to have to get better with teams like Virginia Tech and North Carolina coming up on the schedule. They also have just two interceptions in their three games, one each by SS JoJo Nicolas and FS Vaughn Telemaque.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Whether it's an old habit or a new habit, it doesn't matter. It's a bad habit." -- Coach Al Golden, on the mistakes that have kept Miami from becoming the consistent team he desires.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL THIS WEEK'S GAME: Bethune-Cookman at Miami, Oct. 1 -- This is the last of three consecutive home games for the Hurricanes, who have split the last two. Bethune-Cookman is 2-1 on the season. With their home campus in Daytona Beach, the Wildcats have 24 players from roughly the South Florida area.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Avoid mistakes. If the Hurricanes make turnovers, the Wildcats have the skill players to take advantage of them by striking for big plays. Simply pounding the FCS team with its running game should pay off for Miami.


RB Mike James -- With starter Lamar Miller ailing with a sore shoulder, James likely will have to assume a bigger share of the running game for Miami. His main contributions have some in short-yardage situations.
LB Sean Spence -- Spence had a big game against Kansas State (14 tackles) and now is the team leader in tackles with 20 despite missing the opener.
WR Travis Benjamin -- After a rather quiet season debut in the win over Ohio State in the second game of the season, Benjamin broke out with six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown against Kansas State. He is Miami's primary punt returner but did not get an opportunity to run one back against K-State.

ROSTER REPORT --Sophomore RB Lamar Miller was wearing a non-contact jersey in practice to start the week but is expected to be available for the game against Bethune-Cookman.

--Sophomore OT Seantrel Henderson, who had back surgery on Aug. 8, is set to make his season debut. The plan calls for him to be in for about 20 plays, coach Al Golden said.

--Redshirt freshman LT Malcolm Bunche is due to return after sitting out the Kansas State game because of a "lower extremity" injury.

--Sophomore DE Shayon Green, who has been recovering from a knee injury, also is expected to play.

--Junior SS Ray-Ray Armstrong, who was involved in the booster scandal for receiving extra benefits, has one more game left in his suspension.

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