Last season Miami had to win games in spite of Jacory Harris. He completed only 54 percent of his passes and threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (14).
This season, it appears (on the surface) that he is one of reasons that the Hurricanes are sitting above .500 at this point. He's thrown 18 TDs to only four interceptions while completing 64 percent of his throws. For a guy who had thrown 32 picks over the past two seasons, this is a drastic improvement. He is passing more efficiently, has finally learned to limit his turnovers, and he appears to actually be playing the quarterback position.
When you look a bit deeper, however, you can see that Harris has actually been counted on much less by the Miami offense this season than in years past. During his sophomore campaign he threw 17 picks, but he was throwing the ball 31 times per game over the course of the season, and 34 times per game against ACC opponents. During his junior year he threw the ball 27 times per game, and that number jumped to 32 per game in conference games.
This season, he is only throwing the ball 22 times per game for the season and 21 times per game through six conference games. He has definitely improved his efficiency and appears to be making better decisions, but he also has not been given as many opportunities to make mistakes. The Miami offense been running (as it should) primarily through Lamar Miller, who is averaging just about as many carries (19) as Harris is pass attempts per contest. On average, Miami is running the ball 34 times compared to just 25 pass attempts per game.
The defense Harris will be facing this Saturday is the best he has seen this season. FSU is currently fourth in total defense and third in run defense (also No. 12 in F/+ at +10.8%). Miller is second in the ACC in rushing this season with 1,016 yards (5.9 ypc), but he will have a tough time running the ball on this Seminole defense that allows only 2.2 yards per carry. If FSU's run defense takes Miami out of their slow-paced game plan that helps keep their D on the sideline, it will force them to lean on Harris, which is when we will see just how much he has really improved.
Editor's note [Bud]: How much less is Jacory passing the ball relative to Miami's slower overall pace?
I was asked:
How much of the 40% decline is attributable to their slow pace? 8 possessions against Duke. If your speed drops 20%, and you gave Lamar Miller the rock 20% more, how much less does Jacory armpunt the ball?
An excellent point. Anyone care to look?
Today in my e-mail, I was surprised to find a great response:
Bud here is what I came up with for the team, not just Harris, for all games including OOC games
Passing...443 plays @ 7ypp 47%...34attempts per game
Rushing... 493plays @ 4.8ypp 53%...38 attempts per game
Passing...230 plays @ 8.9ypp 43%of plays...25.5 attempts per game
rushing...306plays @4.7ypp 57%of plays...34attempts per game.
Tempo decrease approximately 18% (59plays/game in 2011 vs 72/game in 2010)
Projected passing decrease of 18%
Actual Passing attempts decreased 25%
Projected passing attempts considering 18% decrease of pace...27.88 passes/game
Actual passing attempts per game 25.55 passes per game.
Also they are averaging 29.4 seconds between offensive plays this season, compared to 23.4 seconds per offensive play last season. (calculated by TOP/total plays)
My thought is the 7% decrease in passing attempts compared to projected percentage, indicates they are running to shorten the game, not necessarily only because they are having increased success on the ground.
Not sure if this reader wants attribution for this, or if he wants to remain quiet.