No. 2 Miami Moving On

John Thompson knows what it's like to be on the other side of a University of Miami laugher. The former University of Florida defensive coordinator could not do anything but watch a little more than a year ago as the Hurricanes pounded the Gators defenders into submission on their way to a 41-16 victory in Gainesville.

Fortunately for Thompson Ken Dorsey, Willis McGahee and Andre Johnson have all moved on to the National Football League. That being the case, Thompson will be faced with another daunting task when he brings the East Carolina Pirates (0-2) into the Orange Bowl Saturday, Sept. 13 to play the No. 2 Hurricanes (2-0).

Some of the names Thompson will see on the back of Hurricanes' jersey in a few days might well be different. But nonetheless the first-year Pirates head coach knows what his team will be up against once the whistle blows at 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

"Hey, its no secret the caliber of team were going up against in Miami," said Thompson, who arrived at East Carolina after 21 seasons in the collegiate ranks, including 19 as a defensive coordinator. "We know what we're up against. We're preparing to go down there and give it everything. At the end of day this will truly be a measuring stick as to where we are as a program."

Thompson might need a couple yardsticks after this one.

Miami, who moved up a spot in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today coaches polls earlier week, is coming off an emotional 38-33 victory over the Gators in which the Hurricanes rallied from 23 points down in the third quarter behind the right arm of junior quarterback Brock Berlin. Berlin, who struggled in the first half against Florida, rebounded in the second half to lead the Hurricanes to four touchdowns and the come-from-behind victory.

Despite trailing in the all-time series 8-2, the Pirates have beaten Miami on consecutive tries, handing the Hurricanes defeats in 1996 and 1999, the last time both squads played. But those days seem like a distant memory as Thompson attempts to take a program that is 18-20 since 2000 to the next level.

Only it doesn't appear like it's going to happen this year.

The Pirates, who started the season with six new starters on defense, have allowed 88 points and 1,044 yards combined in losses to Cincinnati and West Virginia despite Thompson's presence. East Carolina's D has especially been victimized up front as evidenced by the 746 rushing yards (6.9 per play) they have given up. East Carolina's defense has only created two turnovers. Thompson says it will definitely take time to create the type of defense he desires after making multiple changes during the off-season, including abandoning the 3-4 alignment.

"We have a lot of young players and anytime you come in with some new things there is always going to be an adjustment period," said Thompson. "It's certainly not going to happen over night for us."

The Hurricanes have more immediate plans after escaping an upset bid by the Gators and staying in the national championship hunt - at least for now.

The victory over Florida was nice, but UM coach Larry Coker wants his team to move on in order to correct a number of things he feels will make the Hurricanes an improved squad down the road. Miami had 16 penalties for 134 yards, including a handful of false starts on offense, and four turnovers.

Coker hopes he sees a shaper team against the Pirates this week.

"I think the first thing we have to do as players and coaches is put the Florida game behind us," says Coker. "Its over-its in the record books and I'm certainly happy about that but its really time to move on."

"I think we're still working on becoming a better football team, but obviously we're not there right now. We definitely have to find a way to eliminate all the mistakes. We had five procedure penalties, two blocks on the back and our kicking situation needs to be better."

Another thing that Coker will be keeping a close eye on is the kind of emotion the Hurricanes play with. After rallying against Florida in an emotionally charged stadium, Coker doesn't want to see a drop off.

"I don't think you can play with that type of emotion each week," said Coker. "But I just wish I could bottle up the kind of emotion we showed in the second half of that football game. These guys know that you have to come out aggressively every single week because that team on the other side of the line isn't going to take anything for granted."

The Hurricanes defense will also be looking to rebound after forcing just one turnover and being pushed around up front in the early stages of the UF game.

"We have to put pressure on the quarterback," said Miami defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. "We didn't get it done against Florida."

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