Sophomore Jacory Harris was one of 62,106 fans in attendace to witness the tragic end to the 70-year history of the Orange Bowl. Harris was only an obeserver then. He is the orchestrator now.
In November 2007 on the finale at the historic Orange Bowl, Virginia humiliated the Miami Hurricanes, 48-0, and had the Cane nation in disbelief. Virginia handed Miami their worst home loss since 1944.
Saturday at noon at Land Shark Stadium, the No. 16 Hurricanes (6-2, 3-2) will look to avenge their home loss against the Virginia Cavaliers (3-5, 2-2) and keep ACC title hopes alive.
“It’s our homecoming against Virginia and another conference game,” said head coach Randy Shannon, who is 1-1 on homecoming games. “We need to come out and play very well due to the fact that Virginia is a team that plays hard.”
Two years ago it was former quarterback Kyle Wright’s team against Virginia. Wright threw three interceptions and had an average of 4.5 yards per pass.
However, this is no longer Wright’s team but Davey O’Brien nominee Harris’ squad.
Under the guidance of then true freshman Harris, the Hurricanes had a bit of revenge last season against the Cavaliers. Trailing 17-10, Harris orchestrated a 15-play drive for 95-yards to tie the game and eventually winning the game in overtime, 24-17, with a touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Aldarius Johnson
“It was an exciting game and my team really rallied behind me,” said Harris, who has 2,106 passing yards, 17 total touchdowns, and is 11th in the nation in passing efficiency this season. “We wanted it the most on that last drive.”
Harris pulled a similar come back last week against Wake Forest, rallying in the fourth quarter. Only having a total of 10 yards of offense in the second half, Harris engineered a nine play for 82 yards and a game winning 13-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Travis Benjamin for a 28-27, win.
The Canes will definitely need their offense to be fluent for four quarters against the Cavaliers. Even though Virginia has lost two straight, their passing defense is 19th in the nation and has only given up four touchdown passes this entire year. In the red zone, Virginia buckles down and allowed 14 field goals.
Shannon and offense coordinator Mark Whipple must seize the opportunity inside the red zone.
“In the red zone, they are not giving up touchdowns. They’re giving up field goals,” Shannon said. “We need to capitalize and score touchdowns.”
The Canes also will see a unique set defense this week against Virginia as they run the only 3-4 defense in the ACC. Shannon knows Miami will sometimes see an eight man front and man coverage.
Miami had no problem moving the ball last year against the Cavaliers tallying up 448 total yards. Junior running back Graig Cooper had careers high with 24 carries for 131 yards.
“It is something you see in the pros, like with the Steelers,” Harris said. “It will be different. [They have] different kinds of blitzes. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Starting Virginia quarterback Jameel Sewell status is unclear for the game because he has a chest injury. Sewell defeated Miami two years ago but was injured in last season’s match up.
The Canes are confident and ready to make a statement on their homecoming game.
“It’s our homecoming,” said senior captain Randy Phillips, who leads Miami with two interceptions. “We are going to come out with a lot of energy. They got to understand that if they don’t come out with energy then they are going to get run out of here.”
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.