MIAMI GAME

The LSU Tigers will have to face another hurricane this season, but this one is not at the hands of Mother Nature.

Instead, it is courtesy of Larry Coker and the University of Miami. After an embarrassing defeat to Georgia in the SEC championship, LSU was rewarded by the bowl committee with a December 30th Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl draw of the Hurricanes. Though from an LSU standpoint, it might seem more like a punishment.

Miami is currently ranked number nine in all three polls in the country and possesses a high-octane offense and a punishing defense, particularly on the pass. They are 9-2 overall and 6-2 in the ACC with losses to in-conference rival Florida St. and Georgia Tech. They have matured over a season that saw an unproven Kyle Wright take the reins of the offense that gradually improved and a seasoned defense that has continually clamped down opposing offenses.

Unfortunately for Miami their first field test came against Florida St.

In the opening game of the college football season, viewers saw two teams with plenty of growing pains. The Hurricane offense could only manage one touchdown, a thirty four yard touchdown pass from Wright to Ryan Moore. On the night, Wright was 16 of 28 for 232 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Even with the poor play from Miami, Florida State did not run away with the game. Miami kicker John Peattie set up to attempt a 28 yard field goal with 2:30 left that would have given the Hurricanes their seventh straight win over the Seminoles. Instead, the snap was botched by Brian Monroe and Peattie never got the chance. With no timeouts left, Miami was unable to stop the clock and Florida St escaped with the victory.

Tyrone Moss carried the Hurricanes to a 36 of 30, three overtime victory against Clemson in the next contest. He ran for 139 yards and had three touchdowns, two of which came in overtime. The two teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime and swapped field goals in the second overtime. In the third extra frame, Tyrone Moss scampered for a 25 yard touchdown run that gave the Hurricanes the advantage and ultimately the victory.

Wright began showing glimpses of greatness in the Colorado game. He was 20 of 39 for 264 yards and a running and passing touchdown. Sinorice Moss was Wright's go-to man with five catches for 111 yards. He also scored a 53 yard touchdown. Jon Peattie added three field goals and the stingy defense held the opposing offense to one field goal in the first stages of the fourth quarter. Safety Brandon Meriweather led the defense with 12 tackles and one interception.

The explosive offense that Miami is capable of began to take shape in the South Florida game. Tyrone Moss had two rushing touchdowns in the first quarter to help Miami take a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. He added another one later to tally three touchdowns for the game on 89 yards rushing. Wright was 13 of 26 for 173 yards and lead the offense to scoring on four of their first five possessions. Lovon Ponder had two interceptions and the defense had four total.

Wright threw for three touchdowns in a five minute span in the second quarter to lead Miami to a 52-7 routing of Duke. Wright was 18 of 31 for 255 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Tyrone Moss added another two scores on the ground. Ryan Moore had a career high seven receptions of 87 yards and one touchdown.

The Miami tidal wave continued as they easily polished off Temple 34-3. The ‘Canes led 27-0 at the beginning of the second quarter and added another touchdown in the second frame. After that, the first unit got the rest of the day off. Wright played for a quarter and a half and still managed four touchdown passes in 19 minutes of play. Ryan Moore had two touchdown catches.

Miami was down 16-7 at the half to UNC but a strong second half by Tyrone Moss quickly eliminated thoughts of upset. He ran for 195 yards and had four touchdowns. Three of those came in the second half comeback effort. The Hurricanes grabbed the lead when Quadtrine Hill blocked a punt and landed on it in the end zone.

The Virginia Tech game was billed as a clash of the ACC powerhouses. But Miami made short work of the Hokies due to a defensive effort that had Marcus Vick in a state of confusion. The Miami defense forced six Vick turnovers( four fumbles, two interceptions). The final score was 27-7 in favor of the Hurricanes. One thing that was not positive was the injury of Tyrone Moss. He tore his ACL and will be out for the rest of year.

The absence of Moss did not impair the ‘Cane offense as they polished off Wake Forest 47-17. Wright picked up the slack by tying a school record with five touchdown passes to five different receivers. Moss' replacement in the backfield, Charlie Jones, filled in well with 90 yards on the ground to go with two touchdowns. Wake Forest was up 17-14 late in the second quarter but the second half saw a new Miami offense come out and put the game away in little time.

Miami would have needed more time to defeat Georgia Tech. With 7:43 left in the third quarter, Yellow Jacket quarterback Reggie Ball ran 16 yards to take the lead and the game. Miami could not make up the difference for the rest of the game. Wright was 14-37 for 207 yards. Sinorice Moss did his best with a six catch performance. He had the only Miami touchdown of the game with a 19 yard reception.

With their minds still on their lost chance at a shot in the ACC title game, Miami almost forgot about their last opponent. Wright connected with Sinorice Moss for a touchdown that finally gave them the lead. Wright was 23 of 30 for 248 yards on the game. Once they got the lead, Charlie Jones added another rushing touchdown to give them a 25-10 advantage. Virginia scored later but it was too late.

For LSU to stop Miami's potent scoring attack they will have to begin with Kyle Wright. The sophomore quarterback has really come into his own as the season has aged. At any time in a game, he is capable of changing the pace. He has the arm and accuracy to hit deep targets and the precision to thread passes. In short, he will continue the rich tradition of successful quarterbacks at Miami.

When Wright has run into trouble he has other options to fall back on. The backfield is equally impressive with their ability and depth. Tyrone Moss' injury sustained against Virginia Tech was a devastating blow to the run attack but the fill-ins have succeeded better than most could hope for in the situation. They now use Charlie Jones as the starter. Since Moss' injury, Jones has recorded 178 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Even while Moss was healthy, Jones still saw carries so he is no stranger to big situations. Quadtrine Hill is the fullback and is another receiving threat.

But the receivers do not need much assistance. Sinorice Moss is a stat sheet's dream and will line up as the flanker. Ryan Moore is a sure set of hands who will play split end. Both are end zone magnets who can turn a routine play into a game breaker. Greg Olsen plays tight end but at times looks like another receiver. It is easy to see how Wright has adjusted at such a fast pace.

The offensive line is a key component to the Hurricane success. They make the holes and give Wright the time he needs to execute. They are led by all-everything Eric Winston at left tackle. Next to him is Tyler McMeans at right guard. Anthony Wollschlager plays center and Tony Tella and Rashad Butler make up the right side of the line.

Although the offense is regarded as flashy, the defense may be the more impressive of the two. Before their last game, the defense was number one in the country in total defense and number two in scoring defense, yielding just 11.4 a game. The defense is in a good position to puzzle first-time starter Matt Flynn. Their front four are aggressive and the secondary picks off passes at an alarming rate. It will be a tall order for Flynn to navigate LSU through the Miami defense.

The defensive front is led by right tackle Orien Harris who had 61 tackles heading into the final game. Thomas Carroll will play defensive end. On the other side is Bryan Pata at end and Baraka Atkins at tackle.

The linebackers are equally menacing. They are led by Rocky McIntosh. He has a nose for the ball and will blitz often. Romeo Davis is at the middle spot while Jon Beason mans the other linebacker position.

The secondary is a big reason that the defense is so stingy in scoring. They intercept passes at an amazing clip. They will use their cunning coverage methods to try and lull Matt Flynn into throwing ill-advised passes. If he does, they will be there to make him pay. Kelly Jennings is one of those who will collect and will play cornerback. The other cornerback is Marcus Maxey. Brandon Meriweather embodies what a safety should be and will line up on the strong side. Kenny Phillips will play the other safety.

Jon Peattie will handle kicking responsibilities while Brian Monroe will punt. Devin Hester will be the return man and is very dangerous in the open field.

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