Stephen Morris to start for Miami

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Jacory Harris will play a big role for Miami this week. Just not as the Hurricanes' quarterback.

That job still belongs to Stephen Morris.

When No. 24 Miami hosts Virginia Tech (No. 16 BCS, No. 14 AP) on Saturday with the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division championship possibly hinging on the outcome, Morris will be making his third straight start -- while Harris will be helping from the sideline, still recovering from a concussion that has kept him out since Oct. 30.

"Concussions are serious," Miami coach Randy Shannon said Tuesday. "And a lot of fans, a lot of media, bloggers, you all think it's a deal where you can just line up and take one week off and the next week show up and play. It's not that way. ... Speaking impediments, brain aneurysms, all kinds of things can happen. I think a lot of fans and a lot of people want to say, 'What is Coach going to do?' It's not that. I'm looking at what is best for Jacory. It's not what's best for Randy Shannon or this football team."

Harris met with doctors again on Tuesday and was on the practice field with the Hurricanes, but has not yet been cleared for contact. The fact that he hasn't conditioned or done any live work in more than two weeks made it, at best, highly doubtful that he would play anyway when the Hurricanes (7-3, 5-2) host the Hokies (8-2, 6-0) -- but Harris' status has nonetheless been a hot topic in South Florida.

So Shannon tried again Tuesday to quell it all, repeating that there is no controversy over which quarterback gives Miami the best chance of winning.

For now, Shannon insists, Morris is the only option.

"All it takes is one hit, we go back too early, and now Jacory's in another world," Shannon said. "Then who's going to feel bad? Now I'm the bad guy. I'm not going to do that. We're going to do it the right way here at Miami. We're going to take it slow. We're going to put him through the process of it and when he's ready, the medical staff is going to say he's ready."

The way Morris has played, there's been no need to rush Harris along.

Morris has completed 28 of 48 passes for 516 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his two starts, winning both and winning plenty of respect from teammates as well. Miami has racked up more than 500 yards of offense in those games, the first time that's happened in consecutive weeks since the final two games of the 2002 regular season.

"In practice, Jacory, the coaches, they're doing a great job getting Stephen ready," running back Lamar Miller said. "So on Saturdays, it just seems to be coming easily to him."

Virginia Tech is taking notice as well.

The Hokies can clinch the division title and another trip to the ACC championship game with a win Saturday, and will have to keep Morris in check to make that happen this week.

"I don't think their game plan changes a lot with who plays quarterback," Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. "Harris is a real talent and has been good for them for a long time. And the Morris kid comes in there, very poised for a freshman, has good pocket presence. He's done a heck of a job for them."

Morris and Harris -- who took the concussion-causing hit in the second quarter of Miami's loss at Virginia -- have been studying together in the film room, and have plenty of contact on the sideline during games as well.

Shannon isn't in the film room with them, but wasn't surprised to hear that Harris has been advising his former understudy.

"It shows Jacory is a team guy," Shannon said. "His biggest job is to make sure Stephen is the best quarterback he can be right now to give Miami a chance to win."