Countdown To Kickoff

Offensive balance has been one key to Miami's recent success. Each of the last five seasons the Hurricanes have rushed for more than 2,000 yards and passed for more than 2,000 yards. In fact, UM is the only school in the nation to surpass both marks since 1998. Despite that success, the second-ranked Hurricanes (5-0) and quarterback <b>Brock Berlin</b> have relied heavily on the pass in comeback victories over Florida and West Virginia. They may carry that plan into Saturday's showdown at FSU.

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 the Mountaineers last Thursday. He also went 18 of 21 in the final 21 minutes of the Florida game to give UM its 38-33 victory.

FSU coach Bobby Bowden studied more video of Berlin Tuesday and came away impressed, saying he does "an excellent job." Bowden also agreed that defensive pressure will be an important key to the game.

"It would be big for both teams. Pass rush would be big. Berlin is just…if he has time to throw, and he had all the time he needed the other night (against West Virginia), he had all the time against Florida, and he just cut people to pieces," Bowden said following the Seminoles' Tuesday practice, about half of which was held in a light drizzle.

While UM has traditionally relied on a solid ground game mixed with play-action, the Hurricanes also have relied on the hurry-up shotgun offense under Berlin.

"I don't know it's kind of like us, against Georgia Tech," Bowden said.

"When we went to the passing game all the way, you couldn't stop us. It seems like when they get behind, they will go to it all the way and you can hardly stop them. I just think it's… I don't know. I would hate for them to come out and throw the whole game.

"The last three or four years, they've run the ball so effectively with the great tailbacks they have, and they can still do that. I am sure that's the way they will test you first to see if you can stop their running, and mix the play-action pass with it. But they've added this dimension to their team and it helps them."

Defensive tackle Travis Johnson says he would much rather see Berlin behind center than lined up in the shotgun Saturday.

"In high school, he used to be seven yards deep in shotgun and then drop back 10 more yards and then just gun it," Johnson said. "Brock, he's a mastermind in that shotgun. I would rather see him behind center, to tell you the truth. Brock is a great athlete. He's a good quarterback."

BACK TO RECEIVER

Willie Reid doesn't mind playing musical chairs. With the return of tailbacks Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker from injury, Reid has moved back to receiver after filling in at tailback the last three games.

Offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden has been impressed by Reid's versatility. Reid currently ranks fourth on the team behind receivers Craphonso Thorpe and P.K. Sam and tailback Greg Jones in all-purpose yards (275 for a 55-yards per game average).

"He immediately stepped out there yesterday and stood out," Bowden said.

"(We missed) his quickness and (he's) an excellent open-field runner. Like in practice, he continues to make plays, like he did when he was at receiver earlier in the year. It's funny, because I never thought it would be that easy of a move for him but it as been. He goes back and forth as easy as I've seen."

STAYING FOCUSED

FSU's secondary, which expects to be tested by Hurricanes' passing game, was dragging a tad in practice Tuesday.

"The kids are practicing real hard," graduate assistant coach Kirby Smart said.

"We're a little tired right now. I don't know if the heat got us the last couple of days. But they have a couple of days to get their legs back. Leroy (Smith) has a little banged up ankle and flu, and Stanford (Samuels) has a slight groin (pull). But overall we are fine."

The Hurricanes' receiving unit features an intriguing mix.

Roscoe Parrish is probably the most explosive, catching a scoring strike of 50 yards against East Carolina. He also returned a school-record 92-yard punt return for a score at Boston College and is tied for the Big East lead and 10th nationally in punt returns (16.1 average).

Fifth-year senior Kevin Beard, who is averaging 44.2 yards per game, enjoyed a career effort against Florida, finishing with seven catches for 164 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt freshman Ryan Moore is averaging 12.4 yards per catch and has come up big on third downs for the ‘Canes.

"We may have faced one or two better individuals, but the whole group and the fact they can protect better than the other teams scares you a little more," Smart said.

"Their weapons may not be as good but they can exploit them because they have a good offensive line. They are very athletic and they're very big. They have the little quick guys in Moss and Parrish and they got the big guys in Beard and Moore. If we don't give up the big play, we will be fine but you can say that every game."


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