After missing the last three games with undisclosed, injured extremities, there's a chance sophomore linebacker Sean Spence and freshman safety Ray Ray Armstrong could return Saturday and play against Duke.
UM coach Randy Shannon said both returned to practice Tuesday. "Two days they got in, so they should be ready to go," Shannon said. "I don't know how much they'll play, but they'll play... they should help out the defense if they get an opportunity to get into the game."
Take Shannon's word on injuries for what it's worth. Last week we heard the same thing about Javarris James and Eric Moncur returning to practice. Moncur (leg) is now likely done for the season and I'm pretty sure James wasn't on the field even though he was listed on the participation report. I know James didn't catch a pass or have a carry.
JACORY PRACTICES AS USUAL... Quarterback Jacory Harris, who will likely play with pain Saturday, took his usual snaps Wednesday according to backup A.J. Highsmith. "We still did the same rotation we always do, our usual routine," Highsmith said.
Harris was seen wearing a protective strap over his thumb (the finger we suspect he messed up in the UNC game) and index finger. "He did everything," Shannon said. "He had no problems, did everything he was supposed to do."
SECONDARY'S VOW TO PLAY BETTER... After Riley Skinner and Wake Forest carved the Canes up for 555 yards of total offense, Brandon Harris said Miami's secondary vowed to "never come out and have another game like that."
Except for the final game-clinching drive by North Carolina last Saturday, the University of Miami defense has done a pretty good job of holding its own.
The Canes only gave up 149 yards of total offense to Virginia and 16 of North Carolina's 33 points (17 came off Harris interceptions). Shannon said the improved play is the result of guys who hadn't had many opportunities to play -- Ramon Buchanon, Curtis Porter, Jeremy Lewis, Jared Campbell -- finally beginning to get comfortable. I'll buy that.
But it also didn't hurt that Virginia (118th) and North Carolina (113th) rank among the country's worst in total offense. We'll see Saturday just how much UM has improved defensively. Duke brings the top-ranked passing offense in the ACC (ninth overall) to town. The good news for UM: Duke is basically one dimensional, ranking dead last (120th) in rushing.
"We definitely want to try and keep them one dimensional," cornerback Chavez Grant said. "When you know you can stop the run, you can concentrate on shutting the down the pass."
Still, a motivated, hungry Thaddeus Lewis, who has two talented, fast receivers from the Miami area won't be easy to stop. And the Canes know it.
"It's always fun going against Thad because he's a competitor and he always wants to win," Brandon Harris said. "He's going to give us his best shot. He's coming home for the last time. His family is going to be there. They say his goal when he got to college was to beat Miami. Three years he's come close [to beating us]. He knows this is his last shot. It's now or never. We feel the same way. We won't underestimate him."
> Expect more bad injury news regarding Sam Shields and Thearon Collier to leak out soon. And don't expect fullback Pat Hill back. Shannon was asked about Hill Wednesday and said he didn't know if he'd return. Expect Hill to seek a medical redshirt for his high ankle sprain.