“I think he’s a different player.”
The words of Al Golden on senior quarterback Jacory Harris in the week leading up to the Ohio State game (press conference video below). Clearly, Golden refused to acknowledge some things occurring before his arrival, such as a quarterback averaging an interception for every 22 attempts.
That’s perfectly fine if the player is an underclassman, maybe even a junior with close to two years of eligibility remaining. But Harris is a seasoned senior with 41 career interceptions to his name. While everyone around this program wants him to succeed, he shouldn’t be given a clean slate.
If they continue on with Harris at quarterback, it would be like sticking with an obese nutritionist.
After watching a 24-6 Miami thumping over Ohio State this Saturday, it’s clear Jacory is the same mistake-prone guy. An 18-point win over a top-20 team and the quarterback needs to go? While it’s tough to stomach the concept, the answer is a definitive yes.
The Miami offense is handcuffed. Golden admitted as much when defending his reasoning for settling for a field goal to go into halftime with a 17-6 lead.
“We already had two interceptions,” Golden said. “To be quite honest with you, I didn’t want to get greedy.” What happens when they’re in the same scenario again with the first-half interceptions but, instead of an eight-point cushion, they’re losing?
They won’t be playing the anemic Ohio State offense as ACC play kicks back up again in a few weeks with a true test at Virginia Tech. The win looks great on paper. Beating a ranked “rival” convincingly in the home opener is just what they needed. Nobody needed it more than Golden, a man who’s had to undergo one of the most stressful offseasons for a first-year coach in the history of college football.
On the flip side, they caught a Buckeyes team in the midst of a transition year, revealing some of the worst quarterback play I’ve ever witnessed in person. And living in Miami for 19 of my 23 years, that is saying something.
Lamar Miller, the offensive line and the stifling defense won that game. Harris’ two interceptions could have easily stretched to four or five if not for some errors on the side of Buckeye defenders. In fact, I think it was one of Harris’ worst games in a Miami uniform.
No. 12 is a bipolar quarterback, folks. He’s not changing, not this late in the game. The sooner Golden realizes this, the better. Harris has an opportunity to pad his stats and lengthen his leash with home games against Kansas State and Bethune-Cookman on tap, which may hurt this team in the long run.
So, when another two-plus turnover display occurs down the road, and it most certainly will, it may not be his last. Now, obviously we don’t know what’s coming out of the coaches' mouths behind closed doors. Golden publicly supported Jacory after the game and he should, after getting a win.
“For the plays he didn’t do well, he’s sitting there on third-and-1 and he’s scrambling,” Golden said. “He pulled it down and converted a big first down by their bench, so he did some good things too.”
While it was a critical first down, the speedier Stephen Morris makes the same play in his sleep. Take the first two games and compare the quarterback play side-by-side while comparing the level of difficulty. One can make a strong case that the road game at Maryland, playing against one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC without key defensive personnel, was a more difficult matchup. Throw pouring rain on top of it, and it’s a pretty hostile atmosphere for any quarterback in their first game of the season.
Sure, Morris threw a couple of errant balls, but what stuck with me were the throws he did make. He was slinging it through tight windows all night and displayed an NFL arm. Swap Harris’ game from Saturday night into that rainy Monday night in College Park, and Miami loses by three touchdowns. At least. Sometimes I forget who’s the sophomore and who’s the senior.
It can’t be as simple as a win or a loss. There are too many variables to just grade quarterbacks based on the outcomes of the games in which they play. Morris has the superior arm by at least two grades, displays better accuracy down field and has more upside as a true sophomore.
Maybe Golden realizes that once he benches Harris, that will be it for his college career. Maybe he is just so good of a kid that he wants him to have every opportunity to find success in his final season. The question is: would he sacrifice wins for the sake of one player’s career? Of course, the answer cannot be yes. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened on Saturday if they were losing when Harris threw his second interception in the half, a disastrous late rainbow down the right sideline. He may have very well yanked him at halftime.
With Jacory running the show, this team will stay grounded from reaching their potential this season. There isn’t a soul I’ve spoken to over the last two days who thinks Jacory is the better quarterback. It’s sad, but with a big lead late in the contest I was nearly rooting for a third interception to hurt Harris’ cause for the sake of the team’s future.
Sometimes you have to take a small step back, to take a leap forward. That leap will never occur with No. 12 behind center.