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Colleges

'Canes are on a roll behind QB Harris

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 04:36 AM
MIAMI -

Jacory Harris isn't out for revenge this week against Virginia.

In fact, what the Cavaliers did to him in 2010 may have set the tone for his stellar play in 2011.

Miami's quarterback was knocked out of the Hurricanes' game against the Cavaliers a year ago, and that one huge hit started the downward spiral that doomed the team in 2010. Beginning with a loss that day, Miami dropped four of its last six games, and when Harris returned to the field later that season he struggled mightily.

This year, he's finally clicking. With 12 touchdowns and four interceptions, Harris is on a roll, and he'll look to lead the Hurricanes to their first three-game winning streak since October 2009 when Miami (4-3, 2-2 ACC) hosts Virginia (4-3, 1-2) in another key Coastal Division game tonight.

"It's a big game because it's an ACC game," Harris said. "It's not big because of what happened last year. Last year is last year. Things happen. I got hit. Got knocked out. But it was a great thing. It helped me, I guess, find the next level and start really recognizing a lot of things in life. So it really helped me in the long run."

Virginia is noticing the difference.

Harris threw 32 interceptions over his sophomore and junior years. He went more than 17 quarters without one before the fourth quarter of last week's win over Georgia Tech, when a pass intended for John Calhoun hit the receiver, bounced skyward and into the hands of Yellow Jackets linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu.

"He'll just continue to get better, I believe," Virginia coach Mike London said of Harris. "He's already got the height and the arm strength and the skills, and you can point it out. His touchdown-to-interception ratio has dramatically increased because he can read the roads and he can put the ball and place the ball where it needs to be placed."

London has some ongoing quarterback issues of his own.

The Cavaliers have used two quarterbacks all season, with Michael Rocco starting and freshman David Watford entering games at times typically predetermined by London and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.

Starting now, that plan is apparently being scrapped. Rocco will have an expanded role, with Watford's being more situational, less scripted.

Miami's record is 15-2 in Thursday night games, and the Hurricanes will spend part of the evening honoring several past national champions, including the 2001 team that captured the school's fifth football title. There's some irony there, in that the last time Miami scheduled a celebration around a game with Virginia, things did not work out well for the Hurricanes.

Four years ago, Virginia was the opponent for the final Hurricanes game in the now-dismantled Orange Bowl — a 48-0 loss for Miami.

VIRGINIA AT MIAMI

Tonight: 8 p.m. TV: ESPN

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