The Hurricanes' leading rusher won't play because he's "little sore, banged up," said Miami coach Randy Shannon, who didn't specify the exact nature of Berry's injury. Whatever the problem is, Shannon said Wednesday that Berry has been dealing with it for about 2½ weeks.
And with that, Stephen Morris' job just got a little tougher.
A true freshman who was a redshirt target until getting pressed into emergency action when two-year starter Jacory Harris was knocked out of last weekend's game at Virginia with a concussion, Morris confirmed what's been obvious all week -- that he'll be under center when Miami (5-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) faces essentially a win-or-else game against the Terrapins (6-2, 3-1).
"I'm really excited to get this opportunity to start," Morris said. "It is what it is. Coach put the confidence in me, he had a lot of trust in me to run the offense. I'm just going to go out there and give my playmakers the ball, see what they can do with it."
One of those playmakers would have been Berry -- who, with 690 yards rushing this season, has piled up more than the next six Hurricanes rushers combined. Lamar Miller (252) and Mike James (243) have been the primary backups this season, and Graig Cooper is healthy as he's been since tearing knee ligaments last season inb the Champs Sports Bowl.
"We have a lot of great backs," Morris said. "Damien Berry, obviously, you can't mimic his ability. But we've got Lamar Miller, Mike James, people like that who can step up real well and handle the business."
Shannon said the decision on Berry was made for precautionary reasons.
"We can't make it worse than what it is when he's already kind of nicked up," Shannon said.
Harris has not been formally ruled out yet; the Hurricanes traditionally do not release their injury reports until Thursday afternoon, although Shannon's rule is that players who don't practice by Wednesday of a game week don't start. If they don't practice Thursday -- and Harris is not expected to receive clearance by then -- then they're typically not allowed to play that weekend.
Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said the Terps are prepping for both Harris and Morris.
"I'm fully expecting Harris to play," Friedgen said.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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