Pressuring Brock

Will they or won't they? At least one paper, it appears the No. 2 Miami Hurricanes will be forced to tweak their offensive philosophy for Saturday's showdown at No. 5 Florida State. For starters, the Canes will be without starting tailback <b>Frank Gore,</b> who is lost for the season with a knee injury. Secondly, quarterback <b>Brock Berlin,</b> the nation's 29th-rated passer with 1,225 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions, has looked more comfortable in the hurry-up shotgun offense.

Will they or won't they?

At least one paper, it appears the Miami Hurricanes will be forced to tweak their offensive philosophy for Saturday's showdown at fifth-ranked Florida State.

For starters, the Hurricanes will be without starting tailback Frank Gore, who is lost for the season after suffering a knee injury in last Thursday's victory over West Virginia.

Secondly, quarterback Brock Berlin, the nation's 29th-rated passer with 1,225 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions, has looked more comfortable in the hurry-up shotgun offense than behind center.

UM rushed for just 88 yards and passed for 352 yards against the Mountaineers.

For the season, the Hurricanes rank 60th in rushing offense (150.6 yards a game), 26th in passing (271.4) and 28th overall (422). UM enters averaging 35.8 points per game to rank 20th nationally.

Of course, they will square off against an FSU defense that ranks in the top 20 in every major category. The Seminoles are first in scoring defense (7.4 ppg), fifth in total defense (256), 13th in pass defense (167) and 19th in rush defense (89.2).

While UM coach Larry Coker would rather feature a balanced attack between the run and pass with two backs and multiple-receiver sets, the Hurricanes may have to rely more on the pass if they hope to extend their winning streak to four straight over the Seminoles.

''You want to do what you do best and move in that direction, but also realize the consistency we've had for a number of years now,'' Coker said.

"We'd hate to abandon some of the things we have done pretty well for however long I've been here. The thing we haven't been able to do is run the ball as well out of the traditional formation.''

Twisted or stirred, FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews says the Hurricanes remain potent as ever.

"They are just a solid football team," Andrews said.

"They are tough when they need to be tough. They can throw it, they can play-action you. It looks like there is a little more variety in their offense."

Fifth-year senior Jarrett Payton will make his first career start at tailback against the Seminoles. He averages 41 yards a game and 5.1 yards a carry.

As Berlin's primary option from the shotgun, Payton also chipped in 10 receptions for 71 yards against West Virginia. However, he also has been plagued by fumbles during his career and his fourth-quarter turnover against the Mountaineers nearly cost the Hurricanes.

Freshman Tyrone Moss and senior Jason Geathers, who will move back to running back from receiver, will be the other running options.

FSU linebacker Kendyll Pope, who is expected back after missing the Duke game with a knee sprain, still believes the key to the game will be the Seminoles ability to pressure Berlin.

Berlin has struggled at times when forced from the pocket. The projected starters on UM‘s offensive line have played together just twice this season due to injuries.

"I don't really think he performs well under pressure," Pope said of Berlin.

"If you can get a hand in his face, he kind of throws the ball up there without looking down the field. He also keeps his eye on one main receiver that he wants to go to. Those are things that we are looking at, trying to key on. We are hoping the coaches call some blitzes so we can get back there in his face and cause some big turnovers. It's going to be two good defenses playing against each other and which defense makes the biggest plays.

"There's probably not going to be that much scoring."

Pope also stresses the Seminoles must force the Hurricanes into long-yardage situations to be successful. The countdown is on as the two teams enter this week of preparation. FSU enjoyed a long weekend and returns to practice today.

"It has been a long time coming," Pope said.

"We haven't won a game against Miami -- we want to go out and get that win and show Florida State is back and we can play with any top team in the nation.

"At high noon (kickoff), can't nobody get away from this game. From a player's standpoint, this is one reason why you come here. When I was a little kid, watching the Florida State-Miami rivalries, the wide right, the wide left, all that. But this is what you play for. This is the reason you come to Florida State. For games like Saturday."


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