Miami: News & Notes (11/17)

For all that his team has gone through in his first year, starting with a still-unresolved booster scandal blowing up in his face in August that ended up with several players serving NCAA-mandated suspensions, Miami coach Al Golden still has a carrot to dangle in front of his Hurricanes as they get ready for South Florida.

"For all that is said and done, we still have a chance to win two more and get bowl eligible," Golden said. "I don't think there is any question that given our circumstances and adversity and some of the heartbreak that we've had this year that that would be tremendous.
"That would be a great job by the seniors keeping us together and leading us. Obviously, they have kind of allowed us to become a real resilient team.
"That's going to be something that they are going to leave with us."
Actually, the 5-5 Hurricanes need only one more win to get to bowl eligibility, but finishing with two victories would be a much more positive sendoff to the postseason.
After USF, they finish the regular season at home against Boston College the day after Thanksgiving.
Winning both of their remaining games also would get them to a seven-win level and assure the Hurricanes of a winning record going into their bowl game.

NOTES, QUOTES
--Miami coach Al Golden arrived last spring and had nothing to do with this fall's schedule, but he doesn't particularly like the idea of playing a non-conference opponent -- USF -- this late in the schedule. "I think I speak for all coaches that we would like to get all the non-conference games out of the way early and then get into conference," Golden said. "But that's immaterial. I don't want to be taken out of context. The reality is we have South Florida and we've got to be ready to go."
--Miami is still likely to use backup QB Stephen Morris for certain plays. Coach Al Golden noted the sophomore completed two of his three pass attempts against Florida State, and the coach also thought Morris' presence helped in the overall impact of the running game. Miami rushed for 140 yards against the Seminoles. Using Morris in packages also gives opponents something else to prepare for, Golden said.
--Miami has two players in contention for national awards. LB Sean Spence is among 12 finalists for the Dick Butkus Award as college football's top linebacker. PK Jake Wieclaw is one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award. SERIES HISTORY: Miami leads USF 2-1 (last meeting, 2010, USF 23-20 OT).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Miami's production has dipped about 38 yards a game from last year, mostly because of a fall in the running game to just under 157 yards a game from 185 in 2010. Even so, the Hurricanes seem more of a threat to break a big play in the rushing game because of the emergence of sophomore RB Lamar Miller, who has had six 100-yard games. QB Jacory Harris had an interception in the end zone against Florida State but has cut back his picks from 15 last year to just five.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Hurricanes are giving up over 167 yards a game rushing and 204 yards passing. They have 22 sacks, with LB Marcus Robinson, who has moved from end, leading with five. The real problem is a lack of interceptions -- only five in the 10 games. DB JoJo Nicholas has two of the picks.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "There can't be wholesale changes. We don't have that kind of depth right now. We just don't." -- Coach Al Golden, asked if he expected to make personnel changes on special teams because of the mistakes in the Florida State loss.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Miami at South Florida, Nov. 19 -- Despite only a 5-4 record, USF has been competitive in all but one of its losses. The Bulls are coming off one of the more complete games of the season with their win at Syracuse and have one thing that has given the Hurricanes' defense problems: a quarterback in junior B.J. Daniels who can run as well as pass.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Keep Daniels in the pocket. Injuries have depleted USF's receiving corps, and the replacements are talented but still young and susceptible to the foibles of youth. Special teams, an area both teams have had problems with, could be decisive.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
RB Lamar Miller -- Miller leads the Hurricanes in rushing, averaging nearly 111 yards a game. He has run for eight touchdowns, high on the team. He also has 13 catches, one for a touchdown, but his success in running the football against the USF's stingy defense is what will be key.
WR Tommy Streeter -- Virtually ignored by the previous coaching staff his first two years, Streeter is becoming QB Jacory Harris' go-to guy. He has taken over the team receiving lead with 734 yards on 36 catches eight of them for touchdowns.
LB Sean Spence -- Spence started at outside 'backer, moved inside against Georgia Tech so the Hurricanes could take advantage of his speed, then back outside. Against Florida State, he was back in the middle again. No matter where he lines up, he has a way of getting to the football.

ROSTER REPORT
--Junior S Ray-Ray Armstrong, suspended for the Florida State game for having dinner with a friend who owns a public relations firm and tweeting about it, has been cleared to practice but his status for the game at USF is undetermined. Coach Al Golden said UM investigated and doesn't believe a violation occurred. The friend, Ari Washington, is 22.
--Senior DB JoJo Nicholas is likely to move back to corner if Armstrong plays against USF, but he is listed at free safety on the depth chart heading into the week.
--Senior WR LaRon Byrd "will be fine" for the game, according to coach Al Golden. Byrd took a hard hit late against Florida State, but what was first feared to be a head injury turned out to be more a matter of getting the breath knocked out of him. He also has moved up to first team on the depth chart.
--LB Jordan Futch, who missed the Florida State game with a shoulder injury, was taken to a hospital after suffering from heat exhaustion, according to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He was "doubtful" at best for the USF game.


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