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Golden counting on Jacory Harris, others to provide leadership that was lacking at Maryland

CORAL GABLES -- UM coach Al Golden hasn't been shy throwing the L-word around lately. 

Al Golden Golden said there just wasn't enough of it against Maryland in part because of the suspensions to seven starters. But with five guys back this week against Ohio State, Golden isn't expecting there to be a lack in leadership. In fact, he's expecting to see more of it from others.

"Well, now with Jacory [Harris] back and [Sean] Spence back and [Marcus] Forston back, yeah," Golden said Wednesday when asked if he is satisfied wit the amount of leadership on the team. "But clearly there was a void. I think JoJo [Nicolas] has stepped up. But we need other guys to step up. We need Tyler Horn and Harland Gunn to step up. We need LaRon Byrd to step up, some other guys on our team quite frankly to step up and lead. We need leaders at every position and not just seniors."

The truth is Golden is putting a lot of his eggs in Jacory Harris' basket. He's been asked countless times about his decision to make Harris UM's starting quarterback and why he's confident the turnover-prone Harris will be different in Jedd Fisch's new offense.

Wednesday, Golden was asked again how much confidence he has in Jacory.

"I'm very confident," Golden said. "Jacory has established that he's the starter right now. He's mature. He's worked really hard for this opportunity, and I'm excited about the opportunity he has and the opportunity we have as a team with him leading us Saturday."

Tuesday, during his weekly press conference with reporters, Golden was asked where he's seen Harris' improvement from the Sun Bowl, where he threw three interceptions in seven pass attempts before interim coach Jeff Stoutland pulled him for Stephen Morris. Golden said critics need to realize "this is a different time, different place."

"He's a different player," Golden said. "Jacory is the guy this Saturday. He's established that, has had a great camp, great demeanor. Sometimes we don't let people grow, develop, want to look at things they've done wrong. Let's look at what he's done right. I really believe Jacory will show us all Saturday night.

"He's done a great job. I just want him to go out and relax, play his game, don't make it bigger than it is and do what he's been doing since we've been here. So I'm excited about Jacory and I know in my heart he deserves this opportunity Saturday night."

It's clear a big reason Golden has put Harris into the starting role is because he believes UM's offense will run better in and out of the huddle, a problem at Maryland when the team drew back-to-back delay of game penalties and times seemed out of sync. Golden has said it is the quarterback's responsibility to avoid substitution mishaps and illegal procedure penalties.

"Again, we feel Jacory gives us the best opportunity there getting us in the right formation, the right call, get the snap off on time," Golden said Tuesday. "There's no excuse for anyone who plays quarterback for the University of Miami not to get this squared away."


-- Golden said Wednesday that Ohio State will be "as physical a team as we'll see."

"They're extraordinarily physical, rugged, high motor guys and excellent at hand-to-hand combat," Golden said. "We have to play a physical brand of football. That's their strength in addition to the speed they have on the perimeter."

Golden said he's preparing the team to see two quarterbacks Saturday. Ohio State has listed fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman (6-1, 230) and freshman Braxton Miller (6-3, 210) as co-starters. "When Braxton is in there it looks a little more like last year," Golden said. "Joe is more efficient, over 70 percent completions for his career, no interceptions thus far, so he knows what to do with the football. They'll take shots when Joe is the quarterback, not that they won't with the other kid. We'll get ready for both of them. We'll see what Saturday night brings, but we expect both of them to be in the game."

Golden said doing a good job covering 6-5, 245-pound tight end Jake Stoneburner will be a big key for UM's defense on Saturday. Stoneburner leads the Buckeyes with eight catches, including four for touchdowns in two games. "Excellent football player, can make catches across the middle, can open his hips and catch back shoulder pad, also catch the corner routes," Golden said. "He's an excellent tight end, a complete player. For us we're going to have to make sure we have the right matchups on him, don't give them a lot of time to throw the ball. He's one of the keys for us this week."

-- Asked if he expects his team to play a more physical style of grind-it-out, football Saturday on offense, Golden said: ""We want to be balanced. We weren't as balanced as we could have been [at Maryland], most particularly in tight situations because of the way it ended up going. We didn't get as many possessions, weren't getting as many stops on defense, barely made them punt. We made them punt one time in the game. Collectively between not stopping them and our mistakes on offense it kind of came unraveled for us a little bit."

-- Saturday's game will be the first game for Golden at Sun Life Stadium. Asked how he expects to feel running out of the smoke for the first time, Golden was pretty funny on Tuesday. "I don't even know where the tunnel is," he said. "I don't get too caught up in that stuff. When they point me to the tunnel I'll start running."