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July 17, 2008

Miami set to use 2-quarterback system in fall

TAMPA, Fla. When choosing among quarterbacks Robert Marve, Jacory Harris and Cannon Smith, Miami coach Randy Shannon found there was only one solution that made sense.

He'll play at least two of them.

Shannon still hasn't selected a starter, but announced Thursday that he'll use multiple quarterbacks this season. But he's not revealing which two have the inside track on field time.

The Hurricanes don't have a single quarterback on the roster with any college snaps on their resume. Marve is a redshirt freshman, Harris a true freshman, and both were Florida high school record-setters before enrolling at Miami. Smith is in his first year at Miami as well.

"Whichever quarterback that we name, we're going to play the other one," Shannon said at the Florida Sports Writers Association College Football Media Days, again without specifying any of the quarterbacks by name and therefore not tipping his hand. "We need depth at every position on the field and that's the one position that we don't have depth at because they're young. They're good quarterbacks, but they're young."

Shannon said it won't be a platoon situation. The way he envisions it, one person will emerge as the clear starter, and another will play at certain times to get a feel for game action - in case that person gets called upon for a bigger role, for injury or any other reason.

Either way, it's a new era for "Quarterback U." The school that produced Vinny Testaverde, Bernie Kosar, Gino Torretta, Jim Kelly, Steve Walsh and Craig Erickson is starting over, at least at the game's marquee position.

"We can't go into the season not getting this other guy any experience and then have something unforeseen happen, like it always does in football," Shannon said. "So we're going to make sure both get reps."

Shannon said he doesn't expect to name a starter until before the Aug. 28 opener against Charleston Southern.

Marve led Tampa Plant High to a state championship and 15-0 record in 2006 after throwing for 48 touchdowns and 4,380 yards. Harris also went 15-0 as a senior, throwing for 49 touchdowns and 3,445 yards. Both were selected Florida's "Mr. Football" after their respective senior seasons. Smith had a strong spring for the Hurricanes as well, ensuring that it's not just a two-man race for the starting job.

The Hurricanes went 5-7 last season, a year where Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman took the snaps under center. Wright graduated and exhausted his eligibility; Freeman got his degree and chose to transfer to Baylor for his final season. The offense - which has undergone several changes in recent years - simply didn't ever click with either quarterback and Miami struggled offensively throughout 2007.

"We're going to improve," Shannon said.

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