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Harris Shines in Second Scrimmage

Harris Shines in Second Scrimmage

by David Villavicencio

MIAMI – Fall camp is about building up to play a season and on Saturday the Miami Hurricanes took another step toward their season opener.

The Canes scrimmaged for the second time in fall camp, with the defense excelling in the first half and the offense answering back after the intermission. While both sides of the ball had highlights, head coach Manny Diaz believes both the offense and defense have some more work to do in the third week of camp.

“In the first half, I thought the defense really took it to the offense. You could see the addition of some of the guys coming back on the defensive line and that added an overall edge to their play,” Diaz said. “I thought the offense in the second half responded and played better and moved the ball in the second half and had some touchdown drives. Overall, though, it was much, much too sloppy of a scrimmage; much sloppier than the first scrimmage. It’s kind of a strange deal, way too many penalties on some things that we’re going to have to sternly address this week in practice.”

Miami’s biggest standout offensively was junior running back Cam’Ron Harris, who scored three touchdowns. While Harris rushed for 77 yards on 13 carries and caught two touchdowns among his five receptions, Diaz believes the Miami native made a statement with his first score of the night.

“Cam was fantastic. … Really set the tone with the first touchdown in the first half,” Diaz said. “He caught a ball in the flat about eight yards from the end zone and had three guys that really had to get him on the ground and he ran through all three tackles for a touchdown, so very impressive to see that Cam is making an older guy type play.”

Freshmen running backs Jaylan Knighton and Donald Chaney Jr. impressed for the second straight week, as each player rushed for over 40 yards and a touchdown on Saturday night.

“They got better, the freshmen running backs, as the scrimmage went on,” Diaz said. “I think after their big plays a week ago sometimes you have a tendency to want to hit a grand slam with no one on base. I felt that early on they were trying to bounce things that weren’t there. I think once they started trusting their cuts and just sticking to becoming north-south runners, once they cleared that front line now they can use their explosion, but early on, they were running into trouble by trying to make every play a touchdown.”

Four Miami quarterbacks threw touchdowns, with starter D’Eriq King leading the way with a pair of TDs and 95 yards passing. Harris’s five catches tied for the team lead with freshman Xavier Restrepo, who racked up 79 yards and a touchdown on his five receptions.

Brevin Jordan caught four passes after missing last week’s scrimmage, while Keyshawn Smith (3 catches, 53 yards) and Larry Hodges (45 yards) each registered a receiving touchdown.

Miami’s defense was very active in the backfield on Saturday, with Jaelan Phillips continuing his success at defensive end. Quincy Roche and Jon Ford, who missed the first scrimmage, also caught Diaz’s attention.

“Quincy and Jaelen were both very disruptive,” Diaz said. “Getting Jon Ford back, just a lot of guys creating havoc there in the backfield and creating some negative plays, which we had very few negative plays in the first scrimmage and it seemed like there are a lot more tonight.”

Freshman Brian Balom led all Canes with seven tackles, adding an interception and a forced fumble, while Jahfari Harvey had six tackles and Avery Huff tallied five tackles and a pair of sacks. Corey Flagg recovered a fumble and Te’Cory Couch had a pick to give Miami’s defense three forced turnovers.

“We were hoping tonight, as crazy as this sounds, we wanted some adversity because last week I think it was so simple,” Diaz said. “We wanted to see how guys responded and did we get sad and in our feelings or did we have some gumption about us to kind of fight back when we’re getting backed into the corner, which it seemed like they did.”

With two scrimmages in the books, Diaz and the Hurricanes will look to clean up some mistakes and continue improving ahead of the Sept. 10 opener against the UAB Blazers.

“We’ve got a big week this week,” Diaz said. “We’ve got to be able to extend these drives, especially in the heat. During training camp, we’re going in the evening a lot. We’ve got to get on Greentree, we need a hot week of practice and we just got to continue to push our guys through this week and make it really, really hard on them, make it really difficult on them and really find out. It’s pretty much the last week we’ll have to really find out who we can count on to go compete against UAB.”