Yesterday, nine Miami football players were suspended for part of the 2011 football season. They include Aldarious Johnson, (indefinitely), Olivier Vernon (six games), Dyron Dye, Ray Ray Armstrong (four games each), Jacory Harris, Sean Spence, Adewale Ojomo, Marcus Forston, and Travis Benjamin (one game each) Here are some of my thoughts and observations on the suspensions:
- The suspensions are relatively light compared to what they could have been. It’s ugly for Maryland with those nine suspended, but it could have been far worse with as many as 13 players suspended for the game.
- The Maryland game will be tough, but for the rest of its conference slate it will have everyone back eligible with the exception of Vernon who must sit out games at Virginia Tech and North Carolina and Johnson, whose possible return is unclear at this time.
- The suspension of Jacory Harris for one game provides a great opportunity for Stephen Morris to audition for the job full-time. The two battled during spring practice, and we may never know who won that battle. Still, I’d find it hard to believe that if Morris plays well against Maryland that he won’t be given another shot during the following week against Ohio State, especially given that he’s a sophomore while Harris is a senior. Golden could also opt to let both play as well.
- The offense won’t be that hampered by the suspensions. If you subscribe to the belief that Morris and Harris are pretty close in terms of ability, then the starting offensive group really only loses Travis Benjamin. Benjamin’s loss hurts, but the presence of LaRon Byrd, Tommy Streeter, Allen Hurns, and others at wide receiver will help soften the blow. UM’s offensive line (minus the injured Seantrel Henderson) and its running backs will all be available.
- The suspensions will most hurt along the defensive line. Yes, the secondary will miss Ray Ray Armstrong, and obviously the loss of Sean Spence at linebacker cannot be undersold. However, the depth on the defensive line will be severely tested. Micanor Regis is left as the only real proven defensive tackle without Forston and the injured Curtis Porter. Even Luther Robinson, who is also injured may have helped play a role at defensive tackle. The loss of Ojomo leaves UM with just two experienced ends in Marcus Robinson and Andrew Smith. True freshmen Anthony Chickillo and Olsen Pierre will be called upon earlier than they anticipated, particularly in the first game with Maryland.
- What was once a game Miami should win but could lose is now a game Miami should lose but could win. Maryland returns the ACC’s best quarterback in Danny O’Brien and they pushed UM last year in South Florida before a late touchdown pass from Morris to Leonard Hankerson helped Miami pull out the victory. Maryland will have the home field advantage and obviously comes into the game with far fewer distractions. Miami can still win this game, but it may need to score in the 27-30 point range to do so now with the suspensions on defense.
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