It's the nightmare scenario Canes fans don't want to stomach this season. And it's probably the only way Taylor Cook gets on the field for more than mop-up duty. The play? Jacory Harris goes down in a heap of pain and UM's offense once again is placed in the hands of an inexperienced quarterback.
Taylor Cook wants Canes fan to know one thing even if it never happens: "I'll be ready."
Cook, a redshirt freshman, admits he never expected to be one bad break away from being UM's starting quarterback this quickly -- not before Robert Marve left after last season. But now that he could be that guy, he's confident he can handle running Mark Whipple's new offense. You see, the truth is, Cook didn't spend a lot of time learning Patrick Nix's old offense anyway. As the scout team quarterback, he ran the offense of UM's opponents. So, he doesn't need to learn any new terminology. Whipple's playbook was new to him this spring.
"I'm excited and I definitely feel more comfortable knowing I'm going to get a lot more reps this year," said Cook, who stands 6-7 and has added 10 pounds to his frame (235) since arriving. "I feel like I can get comfortable with the offense quickly, the team in general. Being here for a year helped big time. But so has learning this offense since this spring.
"I ran a run based offense my first two years and went to a more spread type thing. This offense is a lot more complex. But it's like going to school. The more you study, the more you are going to learn. I'm pretty comfortable with it now."
Cook, who returned home briefly this summer to help out at his family's rice farm in Texas, said "there are no stupid questions" when Canes quarterbacks are around Whipple. He said the new coordinator hasn't just been patient answering questions, but pointing out improvements in mechanics and delivery. Cook said he's worked on having a quicker release at Whipple's request. He's also been spending more and more time with Harris. This summer, the two roomed together for four weeks and studied nightly.
"We developed a little bit better bond probably," Cook said. "Over the summer, we threw a lot together."
And its during the summer, Cook said, he felt he really got into a groove in Whipple's offense. "The spring was kind of a learning time," Cook said. "But I really like what we did during 7-on-7s. We had a lot of big plays. I think its going to be an exciting year. The players were having more fun, making guys miss and taking the ball 50 years for scores. It's an exciting offense."
MORE ON THE FIRST DAY...
> Unfortunately, I couldn't make it out to practice this morning. It wasn't the alarm clock that didn't go off. It was my car that let me down. As I was about to exit the Palmetto Expressway to head down to Coral Gables, my radiator blew and my car overheated. I made it to Media Day, but I was too late for what I heard was a very light practice. I might have made it had I jumped on board with the Sun-Sentinel's Shandel Richardson, who politely pulled his car behind me and asked me if I needed any help. But I wasn't going to leave my car on the 826. Still have to thank Shandel for the gesture. He's a team player.
> I have to hand it to defensive line coach Clint Hurtt for getting a strong message across to his defensive linebefore camp even began: "Finishing last in the ACC in run defense is simply unacceptable." On Friday, Hurtt had his first official meeting in the film room with his players and greeted them with a set of numbers on the chalkboard according to defensive end Adewale Ojomo. "It compared how many yards teams averaged on us each game and how many they averaged on us at the beginning of the season," Ojomo said. "After that, we didn't need to be motivated. All we needed was the practice schedule."
> If you take a look at the Canes' media guide you get the sense the school is definitely trying to remind finds -- and recruits -- of The U's deep connection to championships and the NFL. The back of the guide features hologram photos of former Canes who are now Pro Bowlers. But it isn't just the media guide sending an NFL message.
Running back Graig Cooper said Whipple treats his players like they're in the NFL. "He's real patient. He lets us have fun. That's one thing I love about him," Cooper said. "It does feel like more an NFL program. He lets us practice. He doesn't dwell on mistakes. We correct them now. But he doesn't dwell on them or treat us like a little high school kid. He'll be patient and let us correct it ourselves."
> Quarterback Jacory Harris made quite a stir last week on Dan LeBatard's radio show when he let loose. Among Harris' gems: He said he'd show up to the Heisman ceremony with a pink suit, an afro and a pimp cup. He also said he didn't believe Gators quarterback Tim Tebow was a virgin. I found the whole interview tongue in cheek. But apparently Randy Shannon didn't. Harris was much more subdued and streamlined in his interview with media today. I want the old, fun Jacory back!
> Defensive tackle Marcus Forston accomplished what he wanted to last season -- he earned Freshman All-American honors and got better as the season progressed. He's got an intriguing set of goals this year: "In the first game, I want to be called out as a starter," Forston said. "Last year, I only started one game. And, I want to lead all defensive tackles in sacks. Not here. In the country. Period."
> I didn't come across any Canes at the Cineplex over the summer, but according to Brandon Harris the Canes made it a point to catch all the blockbuster flicks together this year. The team's favorite? Probably The Hangover. "We do everything together now. Everytime we go out, we have 50, 60 people going to the movies," Harris said. "We send a couple people to buy tickets. Last night we saw GI Joe. A couple weeks back we all went to see Orphan. You'll be surprised how these guys act with a scary movie. Marcus Forston was screaming like a girl. We go to the movies so much. I think the favorite was The Hangover. That was a big one. Everybody was crazy about The Hangover. Mike James saw it about 10 times. He went everyday by himself."