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SUN BOWL NOTEBOOK

Miami QB decision hurt by ankle injury

– Miami interim coach Jeff Stoutland’s quarterback decision may have become easier Tuesday.

Freshman quarterback Stephen Morris injured his left ankle early in practice and was helped off the field by the Hurricanes’ training staff.

He was on crutches at one point during practice, but Morris left the practice facility wearing a protective boot.

Morris and junior Jacory Harris have been competing for the starting job for when Miami (7-5) plays Notre Dame (7-5) in the Sun Bowl at 2 p.m. Friday.

Stoutland didn’t have an immediate update on Morris’ injury after practice, and he said during a morning news conference that he was still deciding on a starter.

“It was the lower extremity, but I don’t know what the severity of it is or any of that other stuff,” Stoutland said. “I didn’t see it, but from what I was hearing, somebody had slipped and fell down on the ground and rolled into his leg.”

Harris started nine games for Miami, throwing for 1,756 yards with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Morris made four starts, throwing for 958 yards with five touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Running hard

Notre Dame senior running back Robert Hughes became a big offensive weapon late in the season.

After being used sparingly nine games, the 5-foot-11, 245-pounder ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns in the final three games.

Coach Brian Kelly said Hughes became effective because the back became more of power runner.

“I think it is definitely one of my strengths to run downhill,” Hughes said. “Once I put more of an emphasis on that things started to get better.”

O-line challenge

Miami’s defensive linemen have combined for 21 of the Hurricanes 37 sacks, the sixth-highest total in the nations.

The group will challenge the Irish’s offensive line that has given up the fewest sacks per pass attempts (4.2 percent) since 1998.

“They are a very athletic defensive line, so we are going to have to be on our A game,” left guard Chris Stewart said.

tkrausz@jg.net

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