Miami's Armstrong, Spence, and Six Others to Miss Opener Against Maryland

Well, we finally know who will - and, more importantly, won't - be taking the field for Miami against Maryland on Labor Day. The NCAA made their rulings on Miami's 13 eligibility-questioned players, and eight of them - including Jacory Harris, Sean Spence, and Ray Ray Armstrong - will miss at least the opening game against the Terrapins.

The harshest penalties handed down Tuesday were reserved for those who took gifts from Shapiro while being recruited. Defensive lineman Olivier Vernon will sit out six games, while Ray Ray Armstrong -- considered among the nation's top safeties -- and tight end Dyron Dye will miss four games apiece. They are three of eight players, including Harris, who must sit out games and repay benefits before they can be reinstated. ...

Harris, Sean Spence, Travis Benjamin, Marcus Forston and Adewale Ojomo all must sit out one game and make restitution for accepting benefits after enrolling at the school. Four other players must repay small amounts, all under $100, but will not miss any games.

Starting CB JoJo Nicolas is clear to play, as is safety Vaughn Telemaque, which saves Miami's secondary and keeps them a pretty formidable foe.

But the Canes will still be missing plenty. Five starters on defense will sit out, including arguably the two best players on the team in Spence and Armstrong. The defensive line was particularly ravaged, with three of their regulars out. That lifts a lot of pressure off a Maryland offense still installing a new scheme - it'll be tougher to pressure the QB, for sure, and Danny O'Brien should breathe easier knowing there's no Armstrong ballhawking in the middle.

Offensively, the damage is less severe. Harris isn't a big loss given that Stephen Morris is right behind him and was the probable starter anyway. (Based on last year's game, I'd rather have Jacory.) But Travis Benjamin is a big loss - he's the Canes' most dynamic player - he's like their version of Tony Logan, only they throw the ball to him too. Morris is good, but maybe Maryland can unsettle him without his primary target.

Aldarious Johnson might've been expected to pick up some of that slack and was absent from the NCAA's ruling, but he was suspended by Golden for a violation of team rules. Not a huge deal given that he's struggled the past few years, but worth mentioning.

All in all, it's not as good as you could've hoped for - no Nicholas or Telemaque would've been sublime - but it's close. As a silver lining, it keeps Miami's season somewhat intact, given that most of the players will be back by the second game. If the Canes can get to a bowl this year, it'll make the win look better, even if it did come against a depleted version of the team.

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