BSB Preview: The Miami Game

Ohio State's 2010 season has reached a crucial moment in only its second game. The second-ranked Buckeyes welcome No. 12 Miami into Ohio Stadium on Saturday afternoon for one of the premier nonconference showdowns of the entire year. Find out more on the Hurricanes, including depth charts, stats, notes and more, in BSB's preview.

Saturday, Sept. 11
3:40 p.m. ET, ESPN
Ohio Stadium; Columbus

The Hurricanes
Head coach: Randy Shannon, fourth year, 22-17 at Miami
2009 record: 9-4 (5-3, 3rd Big East Coastal)
Series mark: Ohio State leads 2-1
School location: Coral Gables, Fla.
Enrollment: 14,905
Colors: Orange, Green and White
Stadium: Sun Life Stadium
Fight songs: "Miami U"

Miami Players To Watch
RB Damien Berry: Noted for his size and agility, Berry has been hard to tackle for just about everyone who has tried over the past season and a half. He didn't play until October last season, but in his last 10 games Miller has rushed for 661 yards on 99 tries with touchdowns in eight of the contests.

WR Leonard Hankerson: The Fort Lauderdale (Fla) St. Thomas Aquinas product considered Ohio State out of high school, and the Buckeyes probably wish he had come north. The 6-3, 205-pounder has excellent size and body control, traits that helped him lead the team in all three major receiving categories a year ago and score two touchdowns in the team opener. He has a catch of 20 or more yards in 13 of the last 14 games.

"He obviously poses a threat," OSU cornerback Chimdi Chekwa said. "He's a guy who does a good job of going up and getting the ball, adjusting to the football. He has a long stride, has good speed, so he presents a threat. He's a challenge. He's going to be tough to cover."

DE Allen Bailey: Bailey tied for the team lead with 11 tackles for loss and had seven sacks last year. He added two forced fumbles to solidify his big-play credentials, and the talent around him means opposing teams can't focus too much energy on keeping him out of the backfield.

CB Brandon Harris: Only a sophomore last year, Harris did it all, placing third on the team in tackles, picking off two passes, forcing three fumbles, tying for second nationally with 15 pass breakups and placing third in passes defended with 17. That performance earned him a bevy of All-America honors and a semifinalist nod for the Thorpe Award, a trophy he has his sights set on in 2010.

Projected Starters
QB 12 Jacory Harris, 6-4, 200
HB 20 Damien Berry, 6-0, 215
FB 30 Patrick Hill, 5-9, 255
WR 3 Travis Benjamin, 5-11, 176/47 LaRon Byrd, 6-4, 215
WR 85 Leonard Hankerson, 6-3, 205/Aldarius Johnson, 6-3, 200
TE 84 Richard Gordon, 6-4, 265
LT 74 Orlando Franklin, 6-7, 312
LG 66 Harland Gunn, 6-2, 315
C 63 Tyler Horn, 6-4, 295
RG 72 Brandon Washington, 6-4, 330
RT 61 Joel Figueroa, 6-6, 323

LE 57 Allen Bailey, 6-4, 285
LT 92 Josh Holmes, 6-0, 280
RT 54 Micanor Regis, 6-3, 305
RE 35 Olivier Vernon, 6-4, 250/97 Adewale Ojomo, 6-4, 260/48 Andrew Smith, 6-3, 245
SLB 36 Kylan Robinson, 6-1, 235/45 Ramon Buchanan, 6-1, 220
MLB 44 Colin McCarthy, 6-2, 240
WLB 31 Sean Spence, 6-0, 220
LCB 9 DeMarcus Van Dyke, 6-1, 185
SS 26 Ray-Ray Armstrong, 6-4, 215
FS 7 Vaughn Telemaque, 6-2, 207
RCB 1 Brandon Harris, 5-11, 195

PK/P 25 Matt Bosher, 6-0, 205
PR 2 Graig Cooper, 6-0, 205
KOR 6 Lamar Miller, 6-0, 217/5 Mike James 6-0, 217

Five Fast Facts: 1. Miami's Academic Progress Rate score of 978 in 2010 ranked sixth among Division I-A programs, just three points ahead of Ohio State. Five of the team's 16 seniors already have degrees in kicker Matt Bosher, corner Ryan Hill, fullback Pat Hill, tight end Richard Gordon and defensive back Cory Nelms.

2. Miami and Ohio State are two of the best schools at producing NFL talent in the country. Miami has 46 first-round picks since 1985 as well as 84 players chosen in the top three rounds since then. OSU, meanwhile, has 34 first-round picks in that span and 72 players taken in the first three rounds.

3. Miami president Donna Shalala is the former president at Wisconsin and also served for eight years as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton. She is a native of Cleveland.

4. Bosher is an All-America candidate and preseason first-team All-ACC pick who averaged 42.5 yards per punt last year and made 14 of 16 field goals with a long of 51 yards.

5. Nelms, a defensive back and special teams big hitter, is an accomplished sprinter. He holds the UM record in the 110-meter hurdles (13.65 seconds) and owns two ACC track championships. His girlfriend, Ti'erra Brown, is the reigning U.S. champion 400 hurdles and also attends Miami.

Offensive Personnel Report There's no doubt quarterback Jacory Harris is the key to the Miami offense. He earned extensive playing time his freshman year, completing 60.8 percent of his passes for 1,195 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 13 games (two starts).

Harris took over the reigns last season and became only the seventh Miami quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a season. On the whole, he was 242 of 406 (59.6 percent) for 3,352 yards and 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

Some weeks, he was magnificent, earning ACC offensive back of the week honors four times. He threw for 386 yards and two touchdowns to start the season against Florida State and added a 20-for-25 performance with three touchdowns one game later at Georgia Tech. He later threw for 330 yards and three scores vs. Wake Forest and carved open Duke for 348 yards.

On the other hand, there were some down moments. Harris was only 9 of 25 as the Hurricanes were drubbed by Virginia Tech, and he threw a combined seven interceptions in losses to Clemson and North Carolina.

He was clearly on in the opening game against Florida A&M, completing 12 of 15 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns before sitting out the second half in the team's blowout win. He also threw a touchdown of 30 yards or more for the eighth time in the team's last 10 wins.

At 6-4, 200 pounds, Harris is a pure pocket passer, as evidence by his rushing total a season ago. The Miami native ran for minus-219 yards, compiling only 61 positive yards in 13 games.

"Jacory is a guy who wants to sit back there and throw a pass even with the opportunity to run," Chekwa said. "You can tell he really wants to throw the ball and really wants to throw it deep. Sometimes last year it cost him a few times, but I think he's a great quarterback. The guy is going to make the throws."

The top backup is sophomore Alonzo Highsmith, the son of the former Miami star with the same name. He was 4 of 7 for 18 yards against FAMU in relief of Harris.

Like Ohio State, the Hurricanes go four-deep at tailback, led by starter Damien Berry. A converted safety, the senior averaged 6.6 carries on 93 totes with eight touchdowns in limited action a season ago, but he's moved up to the top spot and had six carries for 45 yards along with his first career TD catch vs. the Rattlers.

Backup Mike James (6-0, 217) kicked off his sophomore year with six carries, 36 yards and a touchdown in the opener, while redshirt freshman Lamar Miller (5-11, 210) led the Hurricanes in the contest with 11 rushes, 65 yards and a touchdown.

Graig Cooper, last year's starter with 695 yards, who suffered a torn ACL in the bowl loss to Wisconsin last year. The senior rushed back and had two carries and two catches vs. FAMU but suffered another injury that has him at doubtful for the game.

Senior fullback and co-captain Patrick Hill leads the way for the backs.

The top four wideouts from the squad a year ago all returned, with senior Leonard Hankerson showcasing star potential. He led the squad a year ago with 45 catches, 801 yards and six touchdowns last year, and he torched Florida A&M for six grabs, 115 yards and his first career two-touchdown game in the opener.

Juniors Travis Benjaman and Aldarius Johnson both started the opener in a three-wide set. Benjamin, who was second on the team with 501 receiving yards and had four touchdowns last year, caught only one pass in the opener, while Johnson hauled in three for 43 yards. The big target, who had 16 catches in 2009, has impressed with his consistency this year after dropping almost 10 pounds in the offseason.

Another junior target is LaRon Byrd, who had 33 grabs for 460 yards and a touchdown last year. He fought off a camp leg injury to snatch two passes for 14 yards in the opener.

Miami boasts plenty of depth at tight end in 2010. The starter is senior Richard Gordon, who has four career catches, but the Hurricanes are excited about JUCO transfer Chase Ford (6-6, 245), who Shannon compares to Jeremy Shockey.

True freshman Asante Cleveland (6-6, 245) also received playing time in the opener as Miami often uses three tight ends in a game, but neither he nor Ford made a catch.

The weakness on the Hurricanes offense could be the line, which allowed 2.69 sacks per game in 2009 to place 100th in the NCAA. There are a number of fresh faces, too, including a pair of freshmen Ohio State recruited in the class of '10.

The dean of the line is senior left tackle Orlando Franklin, who has made 28 career starts and dropped 10 pounds coming into the season. None of the other starters in the FAMU game has double digits in career starts with projected right tackle and senior Joel Figueroa relegated to a reserve role after an undisclosed camp injury. He should return for the OSU contest, however.

Starting in the middle is Tyler Horn, a lightly recruited junior who has worked his way up to the first string and made his first career start in the opener. Between Horn and Franklin is left guard Harland Gunn, the No. 6 guard in his class according to Scout when recruited in 2007.

Sophomore Brandon Washington earned career start No. 3 in the opening game at right guard, while sophomore Benjamin Jones got the nod at right tackle with Figueroa limited.

The Hurricanes also played true freshman center Brandon Linder (6-6, 300) and right tackle Seantrel Henderson (6-8, 355) in the opener. Both were recruited by OSU, and Henderson, originally a USC commit, was the top overall player in his class according to Scout.

Defensive Personnel Report
Miami, which shut out Florida A&M 45-0 in the opener to earn its first shutout since 2006, boasts one of the deepest defensive lines in the nation, a unit noted college football expert Phil Steele ranked fourth in the country in the preseason, and the line racked up all eight sacks the Hurricanes had against the Rattlers.

"I've watched tons of film on them," OSU tight end Jake Stoneburner said of the Miami D-line. "They're super athletic, super quick. They have a lot of talent, a lot of depth. But it's nothing we haven't gone against in practice. I feel like we have one of the best D-lines in the country."

On the end, senior Allen Bailey is a preseason All-American after making seven sacks and 34 tackles in 2009, though he was held to only one tackle in the opener. The attention paid to him helped open up the other side, though, where sophomore Olivier Vernon made a team-high seven tackles with 3½ sacks.

Junior Marcus Robinson had five stops in the opener, while junior Adewale Ojomo celebrated his return to action after missing 2009 with two sacks. Ojomo, the cousin of former Purdue lineman Akin Ayodele, was out for the campaign after a preseason locker room fight left him with a shattered jaw.

Returning starter Josh Holmes and sophomore Marcus Forston (6-3, 305) started the opener at tackle, with Holmes beginning his senior year with two tackles and a sack. The No. 1 defensive tackle in the class of 2008 according to Scout, Forston had four tackles and a sack after missing almost all of last year with an injury and getting a medical redshirt.

Miami also boaosts tackle Micanor Regis, a junior who missed the opener with an upper extremity injury but should be able to play in the OSU contest. Regis had 19 tackles, three for loss, last year.

The Hurricanes have four linebackers set to receive the lion's share of the time, starting with the leading returning tackler in middle linebacker Colin McCarthy. The senior had 95 stops last season, including 11 for loss to tie Bailey for the team lead, and added five tackles vs. FAMU.

The weakside starter is a returning impact player in junior Sean Spence, the 2008 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year who had 36 tackles and three sacks despite missing time with an injury last year. He had four tackles in the opener.

Finally, it appears senior Kylan Robinson and junior Ramon Buchanan will split time at the strongside spot. Robinson, a former special teams dynamo who had played limited time at linebacker before this year, got the nod in the opener and made two tackles, one for loss. He is a native of Anchorage, Alaska, who played running back his first two years at Miami.

Buchanan had six tackles, including a TFL, in the opener after making 28 last year.

Miami also hopes to see a quick return to health for junior Jordan Futch, a key special teams tackler coming back from an ACL injury.

OSU offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said he expects to see more man coverage than the average week from Miami, and that makes sense considering the talents of junior cornerback Brandon Harris. A 2009 second-team All-American, first-team All-ACC choice and one-time OSU recruit, Harris is in line for another big season after making 58 tackles, 15 pass breakups and two interceptions.

The second starter in the opener was another former OSU recruit Brandon McGee, though he did not have a statistic. Miami also played senior DeMarcus Van Dyke and one-time hyped wideout and current senior Ryan Hill, who had one tackle apiece.

Sophomore strong safety Ray-Ray Armstrong made 21 tackles last year as a true freshman and has ascended to a starting role in 2010, making the 'Canes' only pick in game one with two tackles. Another sophomore, Vaughn Telemaque, mans the free safety spot and opened the year with two tackles after posting 48 a season ago.

Junior JoJo Nicolas made two tackles in a reserve role in the opener.

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