OSU vs. Miami Game Could Come Down to Quarterback Play
By Brandon Castel
MIAMI — Today’s primetime matchup between Ohio State and Miami was supposed to be a duel between two senior quarterbacks. It was supposed to the culmination of their separate careers coming together for one last skirmish between friends.
Terrelle Pryor directs the OSU offense in the 2010 Ohio State win over Miami
Photo by Jim Davidson
Instead of facing Terrelle Pryor Saturday, Jacory Harris will have to settle for Joe Bauserman.
It’s not exactly a flashy matchup, but it very well could determine the outcome of what looks like a relatively even matchup on paper. The Hurricanes are more experienced than the Buckeyes, who will be without key veterans DeVier Posey, Boom Herron and Mike Adams.
Miami has its own list of missing players for tonight’s game, including safety Ray Ray Armstrong, defensive lineman Olivier Vernon and tight end Dyron Dye. Harris is coming off his own one-game suspensions, which means this will be his first live action since an abysmal showing against Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl.
He threw only seven passes in the game, but that was enough to put the ‘Canes in a 21-0 hole before they turned things over to then-freshman Stephen Morris. He finished out the game strong, although Miami could not overcome the three picks thrown by Harris in the first half.
But Morris was shaky in the team’s week-one loss at Maryland, which might explain why Al Golden decided to turn back to Harris as his starter for the big matchup with Ohio State.
“I just think it's a different time and place,” Golden said.
“I think he is a different player. He has established that. He has had a great camp. He's had a great demeanor.”
The senior out of Miami has always had a good disposition about him, especially as a sophomore in 2009 when he threw for over 3,300 yards and 24 touchdowns. Those numbers dropped off dramatically last season, as he threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward returns an interception of a Jacori Harris pass in 2010.
Photo by Jim Davidson
His downward spiral really started with the trip to Columbus when he threw four interceptions in a 36-24 loss to the Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium.
“I've been the biggest Jacory Harris fan that there probably is,” ESPN analysts Kirk Herbstreit told The Palm Beach Post.
“I loved his demeanor, his ability to make plays. But every time I would defend him, he would throw three interceptions. I'd defend him again and he would throw another three interceptions. So erratic.”
If Harris plays well today, the Buckeyes could be in some serious trouble. When he’s on, like he was against North Carolina last fall, the Hurricanes are a much different team. He completed 21 of his 32 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-10 win over the Tar Heels last October.
It was his best performance of the 2010 season, but the year before, he threw four picks in a 33-24 loss at UNC.
“Is Jacory going to play great and make great decisions? He could,” Herbstreit said.
“Is Jacory going to throw the ball into coverage and give Ohio State a short field, which they'll need in order to score points? He could do that too.”
The Buckeyes have their own issues at quarterback, with Bauserman making just the third start of his career—and his first on the road. He is coming off a subpar performance against Toledo last week, but he has done a good job of taking care of the football so far this year.
That has always been the issue with Harris.
Buckeye defensive lineman Dexter Larimore harrasses Jacori Harris in OSU's win over Miami in 2010
Photo by Jim Davidson
In the past, he has seemed to rattle easily under pressure, which might explain why he has thrown 32 interceptions over the past two seasons. The bigger the game, the more Harris seems to meltdown.
His three-interception game against Notre Dame may have been rock bottom. It was also the last time he threw a pass in a game. If he has another one like that, the Buckeyes are going to leave Miami with more than a victory—they’ll take his legacy with them too.
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