In the final part of our preview, The Miami Hurricane Football writer preview UM-OSU and discusses how much this game means to Jacory Harris. Thanks for reading our preview this week. Listen to Miami-Ohio State on 90.5 FM in Miami-Dade or online at http://wvum.org/index.php/wvum/stream/
When asked what emotion he expects to feel when he’s running through the smoke, the last first-time he’ll do it his entire career, Jacory Harris had no intention of downplaying the moment.
“I might shed a tear.”
“I’m so happy to be back on the field, I’m really ready to run out of that tunnel with my teammates,” Harris said. “They’re the ones who have been by our sides throughout everything that’s occurred over the past couple of months.”
The past five weeks, and really the past four years, have been anything but predictable for Harris. After battling with Robert Marve for the quarterback position his freshman year and failing to find consistent success for the past two seasons, the senior quarterback has proven himself to be durable despite his lanky frame. And after hurdling his latest obstacle as a Miami Hurricane – a one game suspension for his acceptance of improper benefits – he enters Saturday’s game against Ohio State as the starter, with perspective, not ego, dripping from every comment.
“To be without football for one week really set in my mind that this is something that I want to do,” Harris said. “I don’t want to be on the sidelines, I want to be in the game and ready to play.”
Harris’ return coincides with four other players – Adewale Ojomo, Travis Benjamin, Sean Spence and Marcus Forston will all make their season debuts this Saturday. Each player is expected to start or at least play a significant amount against Ohio State, with Ojomo and Forston the only reinstated players not named the outright starters at their position.
Coach Al Golden had stated Harris would have started the season opener against Maryland had it not been for the suspension. While allowing both he and sophomore Stephen Morris to compete for the job during the summer, Golden saw Harris improve during the offseason and decided it was time for him to make the most of his last opportunity.
“Sometimes we don’t let people grow, we don’t let them develop,” Golden said. “We just want to go back and look at the things that they did wrong. Let’s look back at the things he’s done right.
“I really believe Jacory’s going to show us all Saturday night. He’s done a great job and I just want him to relax and play his game, don’t make it bigger than it is, and do what he’s been doing since we’ve been here. I’m excited for Jacory and I know in my heart that he deserves this opportunity Saturday night.”
As for the game itself, Ohio State has become just as the familiar with the NCAA Infractions Committee as their current opponent. Including Pryor, who left the team in the offseason, eight Buckeyes were also suspended for multiple games for the 2011 season. With as much negativity surrounding the outskirts of the game, the integrity of the game may have been called into question by some. But at least for Golden, he doesn’t see the issues plaguing each team having any effect on how the game itself, or the programs involved, will be viewed.
“That’s not going to erase the tradition, that’s not going to erase all the great players that have played here, it’s not going to erase what the institutions mean, and it’s certainly not going to diminish what it means to our fans and alumni and football fans in Miami and South Florida.”
Though in actuality the Hurricanes lost last year to the Buckeyes 36-24 in Columbus, it technically never happened. Ohio State vacated their entire 2010 season after NCAA investigations found multiple players to be ineligible for the season, including former quarterback and current Oakland Raider Terrelle Pryor, but for Harris and his teammates last year’s contest remains very much real.
“Last year we did a lot of things that killed ourselves,” Harris said. “We were in a position to pull away from those guys [at one point], we had the momentum, but we just made mistakes. As long we take care of the small things, I feel like we have a good chance with this team.”
This year’s Buckeye team received some good news on Tuesday, with the NCAA reinstating three of the seven players still under suspension. Runnigback Jordan Hall, corner Travis Howard and safety Corey Brown will all be eligible for Saturday night’s game against Miami. Though four Ohio State players still remain ineligible and aren’t expected back until October 15, both Hall and Howard were likely starters entering the year.
26-year-old senior quarterback Joe Bauserman is slated to start, but a cameo from true freshman Braxton Miller would be far from unexpected. Miller’s athleticism gives the Buckeyes an offensive dimension akin to Pryor’s team in the recent past, which may be utilized if the Miami secondary is successful in stymieing Bauserman’s more traditional pocket-passing attack.
While the game played Saturday night will undoubtedly be plagued with national media and fanbases focusing on the problems which lie on the periphery for both teams, Harris offered one last cliché that sums up not only the game, but maybe the entirety of his Hurricane career.
“It’s going to be a street fight.”
Listen to Miami-Ohio State on 90.5 FM in Miami-Dade or online at http://wvum.org/index.php/wvum/stream/