Saturday, September 19, 2009
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Harris' start has Miami flying high

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[September 19, 2009]  CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) --

Jacory Harris has an enemy. Himself. For the first two games, Miami's quarterback embraced the us-against-the-world philosophy, borne from a notion that the Hurricanes weren't truly considered contenders in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

HardwareThose slights were his motivation.

"We want everybody to doubt us this year, because that's going to keep us going," Harris said. "As long as everybody keeps doubting us, we're going to keep on truckin'."

Alas, there's the problem. If Harris keeps playing like this, there might not be many doubters left.

There aren't many quarterbacks off to the type of start Harris is enjoying. He threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns Thursday night, lifting No. 20 Miami to a 33-17 win over No. 14 Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes' first victory over the Yellow Jackets in five years. When the new AP Top 25 poll comes out Sunday, Miami (2-0, 2-0 ACC) will likely have its best ranking since September 2006.

Through two games, Harris has completed 41 of 59 passes for 656 yards and five touchdowns. He has the offense flying, too: The last time Miami exceeded 450 total yards in consecutive games was at the start of the 2003 season.


Until now, that is.

"When you have confidence like he does, the sky's the limit," Miami coach Randy Shannon said. "It's more the team rather than Jacory. I mean, Jacory knows that his offensive line is going to protect him. ... You've got to give those guys a lot of credit up front."

The proof of that? Harris' uniform pants after Thursday night's game.

Other than a slight smudge on his left leg - who knows, maybe from kneeling to kill the clock at game's end - they were still as white as when he slipped them on. Harris remembered being on the ground only once, and that's when he tripped over his own feet on a pass that went for a touchdown.

"He played a great game," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "They pretty much moved the ball at will."

Miami hasn't been known for the better part of a quarter-century as "Quarterback U" for nothing.

And one of the guys who helped earn that moniker watched from the Hurricanes' sideline Thursday night, giving Harris high marks.

"He's got great poise," said Gino Torretta, the 1992 Heisman Trophy winner for Miami. "Good plays and bad plays, he's got poise."

The bad plays, they've been rare.

Harris has connected with 12 different receivers so far this season, spreading the five touchdowns to five different teammates. He's hit on three 40-yard passes - one each to Travis Benjamin, Leonard Hankerson and LaRon Byrd.

Defenses know Miami will throw.

They just don't know to whom.

"It shows how this offense is not selfish," Byrd said. "As long as we're winning, as long as we grind, as long as we're moving those chains, it doesn't matter who's catching the ball."

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Funeral Director

Now 33-1 as a starting quarterback since his junior year of high school, Harris didn't even wait for a postgame shower Thursday night before turning his attention to the next challenge.

That test could be a colossal one, when Miami heads to Virginia Tech next Saturday. A win would put the Hurricanes at 3-0 in the ACC. That's only happened once before: 2004, Miami's first season in the conference.

"We're very humble," Harris said. "We understand that we've got other teams ahead we've got to beat. And in order to stay undefeated, you've got to win the next game. So that's what we understand. We keep that in our mind."

A number of Miami players, Harris among them, were predictably perturbed when none of the 87 voters in the ACC preseason poll picked Miami to win the Coastal Division. Talk that the Hurricanes could go 0-4 to open the season - unless Virginia Tech or Oklahoma stunningly drop out, Miami will be the third team since 1999 to start with four ranked opponents - fueled Harris as well.

He took some of that frustration out on Florida State, some more on Georgia Tech.

"We still want to be considered the underdogs," Harris insisted Thursday night.

At this rate, that might not happen much longer.

[Associated Press; By TIM REYNOLDS]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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