The rest of Maryland's season will depend on the Terps winning one of their next two games; that's all they need to control their destiny heading into the final two games. That shouldn't be too hard considering they still have Virginia on the slate after Miami, but knocking off the Canes this Saturday would make next Saturday much less nerve-wracking and, more importantly, instill some much-needed excitement in the fanbase. After all, beating Miami is a tough task, and tougher when you don't have your home crowd to lean on.
And if the Canes' star QB (and probably their most valuable player) Jacory Harris can't play due to the concussion he received against Virginia, Maryland's chances to win the game increase exponentially. At the moment, we know one thing for sure: he definitely can't start. And he probably won't play, either:
There is a "75 percent chance" Miami quarterback Jacory Harris will miss this week's game against Maryland, Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon said Wednesday on the weekly ACC conference call.
Harris was injured during last week's 24-19 loss against Virginia. The recipient of a brutal, clean hit during the second quarter, Harris was on the ground for nearly five minutes before heading over to the sideline.
Harris has not practiced yet this week, and Shannon said he will not practice Wednesday.
Because Harris would not practice Wednesday, Shannon said he is unable to start Saturday. Harris must practice Thursday to be able to play at all.
True freshman Stephen Morris will get the start instead, and will probably receive the majority of the playing time. Also, I wouldn't expect a disciplinarian - even a cool one, like Shannon - to bend the rules, even for his best player, if Harris does recover but not in time to practice on Thursday.
When Jacory is good, he tends to be very good, and then the Canes are very good. Against Maryland's secondary, he'd probably be very good. (Even though everyone hopes he's okay - heck, he's my favorite non-Terp in the ACC - I personally hope he takes his time getting healthy to avoid, y'know, getting another concussion. That's the sensible route, right?)
Anyway, it's not like Morris is some talentless hack - he was rated a 78 on ESPN out of HS, one spot below Tyler Smith (hey, not everyone can match his awesomeness) and was at the helm when Miami came back to nearly grab the win. He accounted for three fourth-quarter TDs - two through the air, one on the ground - against UVA and threw for 162 yards in the process. That said, he's still a true freshman, with true freshman tendencies: his completion percentage was just 41% against UVA and he threw two interceptions.
The Canes have a lot of talent at WR - namely Leonard Hankerson and the fastest player of a fast team, Travis Benjamin - so Harris' absence is pretty big if Morris can't get the ball in their hands. And like most young QBs, you can expect, or at least hope for, pressure to fluster to him. So yeah, I'm guessing Don Brown will be dialing up some blitzes.
Like Dinich says, Maryland really couldn't have asked for a better situation.
[Note by Ben Broman, 11/03/10 6:15 PM EDT - Of course, shortly after I posted this, the AP reported that Damien Berry, Miami's top running back, will also be out for the game. Shaping up very nicely indeed.]