Jacory Harris was surprisingly named the starting QB for the Ohio State game 10 days in advance. There had been rumors that Harris had won the job prior to the Maryland game, so most fans expected to see him atop the depth chart.
The surprising part was the timing, as Al Golden had previously said that both QBs would be competing this week. Instead, Golden shut down the competition before it started, delivering a huge vote of confidence to the senior QB. And, despite the rumblings from a fickle fan base, Harris’ performance over his career warrants him getting the ball against Ohio State, and barring a completely horrific, Sun Bowl type performance, he should continue to start going forward.
Jacory Harris has been superior
One of the more interesting things in this QB controversy is that fans are willing to grade on a curve in an attempt to dismiss Harris. An objective look at the performance of both QBs paints a pretty clear picture of who has been more effective:
It’s not even close, actually. Obviously, Morris is a much younger, less polished QB, so you can take that into account. But based on past performances, it’s hard to argue that Jacory Harris shouldn’t be the starting QB at Miami.
Almost everyone expected Al Golden to wait until next week to name the starter. A fascinating subtext to the entire QB debate is the argument that with Harris, “you know what you have”, but with Morris, you still have a lot of “upside”. Ironically, I believe this to be accurate, but I believe that Golden’s swift decision to throw his support behind Harris is a result of knowing what he has in Harris. And what he has in Harris, with a staff’s backing, is a good quarterback. Harris’ career numbers (noted above) are solid, especially outside of the INT numbers. But, if you remove the end of last year, where an ambiguous QB situation resulted in both QBs playing their worst, Harris numbers move even higher.
That is what Harris produces with staff backing and confidence in his position as the starting QB and leader of this team. If you drill that down to a normal game with a variable number of attempts, you get a picture of what an average Jacory Harris performance looks like:
Who wouldn’t take that performance against Ohio State? I am sure Al Golden would.
Of All Teams, Of All Times
Jacory Harris most certainly would have started Monday Night’s game against Maryland had he not been suspended based on a nuanced technicality (he took $40 over the limit in extra benefits). Getting suspended was certainly not a good thing, but it has created a situation where Harris has the ultimate opportunity to burst back onto the scene and forever win the hearts and minds of Miami fans, who have unjustifiably ripped him, choosing to focus only on his INTs while ignoring his entire body of work.
And of course, it just had to be Ohio State waiting in the wings. Miami fans have wanted to beat Ohio State for nearly a decade as some sort of redemption for a wrong in the 2002 National Championship Game. It was also versus Ohio State where Jacory Harris lost the support of much of the fan base. It wasn’t just his 22-39, 232 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs performance that signified the last straw. It was that he had played brilliantly the week before (12-15, 210 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT) raising hopes that he could lead the ‘Canes over Ohio State. When he threw 4 INTs against Ohio State (2 of which were clearly not his fault), Miami fans who had circled that game on their calendars years earlier turned on him, rather unfairly.
And yet, as fickle as this fan base is, he can forever endear himself to them with one big performance against Ohio State. If Jacory Harris walks off the field on September 17th a victor, it will certainly leave egg on the face of those who ridiculously wrote his obituary last January.
Jacory Harris has won several big games over the course of his career (@Virginia with an epic drive, @Florida State, Oklahoma, @Pittsburgh, @Clemson), but this is by far the biggest. He has been a good overall QB during his career at Miami. But the Ohio State game represents his greatest opportunity. A sold out home stadium, with a fan base desperate for redemption, reeling from a contrived scandal. If Jacory Harris delivers to them that which they desire, he will not only set himself and this program up for a big season with dreams of a possible ACC title, but he will forever change his legacy.