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The Miami Hurricanes are beginning to hit their stride as the team nears its conference finale this weekend at Sun Life Stadium against the 16th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies (8-2, 6-0 ACC).
Coming off Saturday’s convincing 35-10 victory over Georgia Tech in which Miami put up over 500 yards for the second consecutive week, the No. 24 Hurricanes (7-3, 5-2 ACC) will look to avenge last year’s embarrassing 31-7 defeat in Blacksburg by capitalizing on a newly-prolific ground game and the breakout performance of true freshman quarterback Stephen Morris.
Junior quarterback Jacory Harris, who began the year as the starter, will again be watching from the sidelines as he continues to recover from a serious concussion on Oct. 30 at Virginia.
“Concussions are serious,” head coach Randy Shannon said.
While Harris spent most of the week with neurologists, Morris, who completed 10 of 18 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown Saturday, continued to rack up superlatives from national and local media for his play in replacement of Harris.
Shannon, able to decipher reporters’ true intentions, reassured all that Harris will return to his starting job as soon as he is able, but emphasized that he will not jeopardize Harris’s livelihood despite pleas to do so.
“A lot of fans, a lot of media, bloggers, y’all think it’s a deal where you can just line up and take one week off and the next week show up and play. It’s not that way,” Shannon said. “Speaking impediments, brain aneurysms, all kinds of things can happen. I think a lot of fans and a lot of people want to say, ‘What is Coach going to do?’”
“It’s not that.”
“All it takes is one hit,” he continued. “We go back too early, and now Jacory’s in another world. Then who’s going to feel bad? Now I’m the bad guy.”
Shannon was evasive when asked if he’d consider using both quarterbacks once Harris returns.
“I don’t even get involved in those things,” he said, downplaying prevailing wisdom that he is responsible for such decisions.
Now riding the momentum of a 2-game winning streak, Miami’s head coach was enthusiastic about his team’s prospects going forward despite the impending feud between Harris and the blogosphere.
“If we continue to do this, we can be a very special football team,” Shannon said of a program hoping to build on its last postseason victory, a historic 21-20 victory over Nevada in the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl.
Never one to look ahead (or behind), Shannon emphasized the importance of Saturday’s game.
“It’s an opportunity for us to end this season in the ACC with a win on our home field, which is something we haven’t done in a long, long time,” he said, though conflicting box scores suggest Miami accomplished said feat last season.
With a victory, the Hurricanes are headed to their first ACC Championship, unless Virginia Tech is able to win its final conference game. Should the Hokies knock off interstate rival Virginia (4-6, 1-5 ACC), Miami will likely accept a bid to either the Champ Sports Bowl or Meineke Car Care Bowl.