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Miami QB Jacory Harris not expected to play vs. Virginia Tech

By Mark Giannotto

Though Miami quarterback Jacory Harris is practicing this week for the first time since suffering a concussion against Virginia on Oct. 30, Miami Coach Randy Shannon announced freshman Stephen Morris will get his third consecutive start behind center when the Hurricanes take on No. 14 Virginia Tech Saturday.

Harris has had weekly visits with a neurologist, but was only able to participate in non-contact drills Tuesday. In eight games this season, Harris has thrown for 1,646 yards to go along with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

"It won't be enough for him to go and say OK, he's going to go play in the game Saturday," Shannon told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel when asked about Harris practicing this week.

It may not be such a bad thing for Miami, though. Harris had a disastrous performance in the rain last year, when Virginia Tech pounded the Hurricanes, 31-7. Harris completed just 9 of 25 passes for 150 yards.

With Morris starting, Miami has won two straight games and thrust itself back into the ACC's Coastal Division race. The Hurricanes must beat Virginia Tech and then the Hokies would have to lose to Virginia next week for Miami to advance to the ACC championship game.

Morris, who was slated to redshirt this season until Harris's injury changed that plan, has been effective in his two starts. He's thrown for more than 200 yards in both games, and had a game-winning touchdown throw when the Hurricanes beat Maryland two weeks ago. He does, however, have four interceptions already.

“[Morris] plays within the system very well," Hokies cornerback Rashad Carmichael said. "Jacory tries to make the plays himself. Sometimes it work, sometimes it doesn’t, kind of like a Brett Favre kind of guy. [Morris] is not as far along in the offense, so I don’t think Miami will give him as much leeway."

The Hurricanes have relied on a multi-faceted running attack to help buoy Morris as he gets his first experience in major college football. Miami has three running backs averaging at least 35 yards per game this season, and the Hurricanes have gained 495 yards on the ground the past two weeks.

So first and foremost on Virginia Tech's mind this week is to stop Miami's running game, especially given how well the Hokies secondary is playing. As Carmichael put it, "If we get a team to have to throw the ball to beat us, our chances go up when the ball is in the air."

“I think the running game really takes pressure off [Morris]," Coach Frank Beamer said. "I don’t think there’s any question that you put your priority on stopping the running game, but actually doing that is the problem."

By Mark Giannotto  | November 17, 2010; 12:08 PM ET
 
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