Hostile Environment

The Florida State Seminoles believe they can pressure Miami quarterback <b>Brock Berlin</b> into mistakes Saturday.Berlin may also have to battle history as well. Berlin will be making his first career start in the storied FSU-UM series that continues at Doak Campbell Stadium at high noon. While first-year Hurricane quarterbacks are 17-14 in the series, <b>Steve Walsh</b> is the last UM quarterback to win as a rookie in Tallahassee.

The Florida State Seminoles believe they can pressure Miami quarterback Brock Berlin into mistakes Saturday.

Berlin may also have to battle history as well.

Berlin will be making his first career start in the storied FSU-UM series that continues at Doak Campbell Stadium at high noon.

While first-year Hurricane quarterbacks are 17-14 in the series, Steve Walsh is the last UM quarterback to win as a rookie in Tallahassee.

Walsh threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns as the Hurricanes survived a failed two-point conversion from FSU on the game's final play to win 26-25 in 1987.

The two other first-year UM quarterbacks who managed a victory over FSU in the Orange Bowl included Ken Dorsey (2000, 27-24) and Craig Erickson (1990, 31-22).

Notables who lost to FSU in their first attempt were Kenny Kelly, Scott Covington, Ryan Clement, Frank Costa and Gino Toretta.

While Berlin has played a key role in helping the second-ranked Hurricanes (5-0) stage dramatic comeback victories over Florida and West Virginia this season, he hasn't exactly endeared himself to UM fans.

Berlin has been booed at times by the hometown crowd for his inconsistency.

UM ranks 20th in scoring offense with an average of 35.8 points a game. Last season, the ‘Canes ranked fourth at 40.53 points a game. Berlin has thrown for 1,236 yards and completed 110 of 177 passes for a 62.1 percent completion rate.

FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews remains wary of Berlin, pointing to his tenacity and leadership.

Berlin set a UM single-game record with 37 completions and tied another school record with his 54 attempts for a career-high 352 yards in the 22-20 victory over West Virginia last Thursday. But he only threw one touchdown pass, pushing his season total to six vs. seven interceptions.

Berlin also went 18 of 21 in the final 21 minutes of the Florida game to give UM its victory.

"The quarterback has better arm strength, it looks like, than the kid they had last year (Dorsey)," Andrews said. "He's starting to gain confidence and the team is starting to gain confidence in him."

FSU defensive end Eric Moore, one of four players with three sacks to lead the Seminoles' defensive charge, has watched enough film of Berlin to know he can be dangerous.

Berlin has connected with 12 different receivers, has completed 73.7 percent of his passes on third down and has produced points on 18-of-21 trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line -- nine touchdowns and nine field goals.

Berlin and the ‘Canes don't like wasting much time either. Of UM's 14 offensive touchdown drives, nine have been in less than three minutes.

"He's a good quarterback," said Moore, who sat out the Duke game with a bruised left hand.

"Every now and then, he's going to make a mistake. He's one of those quarterbacks who you have to keep him in the pocket and put pressure on him. If not, he's going to try to pick you apart."

Rover Kyler Hall also has made a point to watch extra film on Berlin.

"Same ol' Miami to me," Hall said.

"They are just as good this year as they were last year. They have some big-play receivers. Berlin's a good quarterback. I've tried to watch him every game to see what his tendencies are. So far we've been playing together but we can't take any credit. We have to keep working hard this week to get ready for this game. It's going to be a war."

While Berlin has an opportunity to prove the doubters wrong, not to mention buck history when it comes to first-year quarterbacks in this series, FSU starter Chris Rix is also looking to start a new trend.

Currently 0-2 against the Hurricanes, Rix is also 2-4 in regular-season games against ranked opponents. While Rix's career numbers are dressed to impress, so to speak -- his 5,706 career yards and 45 touchdown passes each rank sixth all-time at FSU -- he also needs to prove to FSU fans he can produce consistently in big games.

Since 1989, first-time FSU starters to beat UM include Peter Tom Willis (1989, 24-10), Thad Busby (1996, 34-16) and Chris Weinke (1998, 26-14). Rix lost his first game against the ‘Canes 49-27 in 2001, finishing 13 of 30 for just 222 yards and four interceptions.

''The Miami game, the Florida game, the [big] out-of-conference games -- definitely,'' Rix said. ``One game can define a player for a whole season. I'm excited for the opportunity that I have to go out there and prove a lot of the doubters wrong.''


Nole Digest Top Stories