WR Jenkins Ready for Louisville, Harris

UM receiver Darnell Jenkins remembers the last time he lined up against Louisville linebacker Nate Harris in high school.

Nate Harris, who played for Miami Edison, told Darnell Jenkins, of Miami Central, before the game during the coin flip that he would personally deliver a whooping to Jenkins and his teammates that night.

So what happened?

"We beat them 33-6," Jenkins said. "Last time he said stuff like that, he knows what happened."

Harris and Jenkins, who keep in touch with weekly phone calls during the season, will see each other on the field again this Saturday when UM goes to Louisville. The two met playing optimist football with each other as youngsters.

Harris was expected to join Jenkins at UM, but was released by the school before his freshman season because of felony charges. Harris has landed at Louisville via junior college and become a top player on Louisville's defense.

"Nate Harris has always been a good guy," Jenkins said. "I played optimist football with him. I wish he could have came here. The comment he made about how we aren't playing Hurricane football anymore, we are going to have to show him. I like what he has been doing and I know everyone is proud of what he has overcome."

"If he could do it all over again, he would be here with us. But, he is at Louisville and he has a chance to play against us so he is going to bring the hype. He is doing all that he can to bring the attention on him to show us he should be here."

Harris told a group of reporters in a teleconference Monday: "It's not the same Miami it used to be. They still have the name `Miami Hurricanes.' They used to dominate everybody. It just hasn't been the same the past couple of years. They still have great players, but it's not how it used to be."

Jenkins believes Harris is talking specifically about UM's recent struggles on offense—primarily in the passing game.

"When he says we are not playing Hurricane football, he is referring to the offense because we have not progressed the way that we are supposed to and we have not been putting up the numbers," Jenkins said. "That is what we are focusing on now. In order to reach our goal, we have to put up at least 21 points per game. That is what we are focusing on."

In a game versus Louisville, where scoring will be at a premium, UM's receivers will be under great pressure to put together a productive game this week.

Through the first two games, Miami's receivers have not been as explosive as expected. The longest passing gain of the season is a 27-yarder caught by Darnell Jenkins, who has been the most consistent receiver for Miami this season.

In order to stay close with a potent team like Louisville, Miami's receivers must make big plays.

"We are going to have opportunities to move the ball because they do a lot of cross blitzes and single coverages," Jenkins said. "We will be able to take a couple of shots at their defense and make an opportunity to move the ball whenever we want to on their defense."

"We have stressed to Coach Olson during the game that the corners are sitting and nobody is respecting our speed. We are going to have to take shots at Louisville."

Jenkins embraces the fact that this week's game is a do or die situation for the ‘Canes season. With a loss Saturday, UM would be 1-2 on the season, potentially killing team morale and any chance at a successful season.

"It makes us go in with the mentality that we have to win and losing is not an option," Jenkins said. "They haven't lost in that season in many years. We are going to go up there and play some Hurricane football and our offense is rolling now, we just want to keep that going."

Q&A with DARNELL

Do you enjoy being he underdog on road games?

"It is fun and interesting because the minute you step on the field you hear how everyone in the crowd is against you. The minute you take the crowd out of the game, everybody is looking around ready to leave."

BHow many times have you talked to Nate Harris this week?

"I talk to him, but I can't talk to him that long, because I am ready to play right now. He fires me up every time we talk. I keep the conversation brief."

Do you take what Nate said personally?

"Yes we take it personal because that makes everyone on the offense want to know who Nate Harris is. That puts a bulls eye on him and everyone is after him—even me. He criticized us real bad and we took that personal."

How can having a strong ground game help you as a receiver?

"That is good because teams are stacking seven or eight people in the box and leaving the defensive backs manned up with only one safety. That gives Kyle the option to throw to Olson or to throw to us."

You are on pace for about 60 catches. Talk about your consistency this year.

"I waited on my opportunity and when Kyle looks my way and throws the ball to me, I just think one thing; that is my football. I try to not worry about the play before. If I make a catch I try to forget about it and move on."

How do you feel you have done on special teams this season?

"I am trying to have a big impact on special teams. We have James Bryant back and he is good to have because he goes all out and he is crazy. I am ready to get him back and help me get a long return."

David Lake can be reached at lake@canestime.com

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