### Jacory Harris said “I’m so happy to be back” on the field Saturday that “I might shed a tear.” Harris believes he’ll make fewer mistakes not only because he insists he’s more willing to check down that a year ago, but also because he said he knows so much more about defenses that he did last year.
Though Harris didn’t say it, we’ve heard from UM people that Mark Whipple didn’t relate to the players as went as new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. Fisch is significantly younger and less likely to go on angry rants than Whipple.
And Fisch apparently has spent more time teaching the quarterbacks the nuances of defensive coverages. Fisch also quizzes them on what they’ve learned.
“I’m watching more tape, preparing more mentally now,” Harris said, believing that will lead to fewer missteps. “I have confidence, probably more than I have ever had since I’ve been here.”
### Harris’ 32 interceptions the past two seasons (including 15 last year) are the most by a UM starting quarterback during a two-year span in 41 years. But keep this in mind: His 50 touchdown passes are more than any UM quarterback except Ken Dorsey (85). Plus, Harris is third all-time at UM in passing yardage and sixth in pass completion percentage. Of course, if he doesn’t eliminate the mistakes, then the positive numbers don’t mean a thing.
UM was encouraged because he did not throw an interception in either of the August scrimmages, although he was going against a clearly suspect secondary. UM coaches see a quarterback who is more patient and not as dead-set on forcing things that aren’t there.
### Watch for Marcus Forston Saturday. Back from his one-game suspension, he has vowed he will put this team on his shoulders and play at the level he played the last five games last year, particularly the Sun Bowl. Can Forston be the dominant defensive tackle this team badly needs? Al Golden said yes, but added that he missed part of the offseason recovering from knee surgery, and that cannot be discounted.
### It’s important Brandon McGee plays well early after being beaten deep late for one of the key plays in the Maryland game. Teammates say he has been prone in the past to getting down on himself and losing focus if he gets beaten early. “He’s made a lot of progress,” Golden insisted. “He’s a little more mature.” But cornerback remains as big a worry as any on the UM roster.
### UM will honor Russell Maryland on Saturday night for being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. But UM said no other former players will be allowed on the sideline – barring a late change in plans – because of tightening of policies in the wake of the Nevin Shapiro scandal breaking.
### For those curious exactly who was to blame in the Patriots debacle Monday, here’s a rundown of Dolphins defensive backs who were beaten in pass coverage, according to Pro Football Focus:
Nolan Carroll was targeted seven times and allowed six completions for 103 yards.
Since-released Benny Sapp: targeted nine times; seven completions; 169 yards
Vontae Davis: 6, 3, 74
Sean Smith: 3, 2, 40
Yeremiah Bell: 3, 2, 20
Reshad Jones: 4, 2, 9
Also, Jimmy Wilson was beaten twice.
Of course, those PFF numbers don't take into account when defensive backs were expected to provide help. Jones took a bad angle on the 99-yard Wes Welker touchdown against Sapp.
Linebackers were beaten several times, including Karlos Dansby on four passes for 43 yards.
### And now the Dolphins have to deal with Houston’s Andre Johnson on Sunday. “He’s harder to jam” than most receivers, Yeremiah Bell said. “There’s a fine line between do I jam him or do I not?”
Johnson respects the Dolphins’ starting corners: “Sean is a bigger corner. Vontae is very strong. Once he gets his hands on you, you can’t get them off.” Smith, 6-3, expects to cover Johnson, who's also 6-3.
### For Sunday, Tony McDaniel (hand) is out; Chris Clemons and Roberto Wallace are questionable; and Jason Taylor, Charles Clay and Daniel Thomas are probable. Thomas said he has responded to the instructions of his coaches, who have pushed for more from him. "It only took one time for them to tell me I need to run harder," he said.
### Tony Sparano has had his share of critics over the years – including Ricky Williams – but Brandon Marshall genuinely appears to admire the guy. He kidded this week that he so values Sparano’s words of wisdom that he wants to compile a book of Sparano quotes.