Defense, Special Teams Help Offense

The final result on the scoreboard at Alumni Stadium last Saturday night would indicate that all is well with the University of Miami football team, right? A stifling defense, speedy special teams and adequate offense allowed the No. 2 ranked Hurricanes to leave Chestnut Hill with a lopsided victory over an overmatched Boston College squad that could barely do anything right last Saturday night.

The Hurricanes (4-0), who are idle until Oct. 2 when they host West Virginia in the Orange Bowl, will get a little breather in the coming days- a few days off- after disposing of the Eagles for their first conference victory of the season. But that doesn't mean the Hurricanes will be unpacking the flip-flops and suntan lotion.

Miami's defense (213 total yards allowed) and special teams (92-yard punt return by Roscoe Parrish) were both key contributors in the 33-14 win over BC. Defensively, the Hurricanes held senior Derrick Knight, the leading rusher in the Big East entering the game, to a season-low 83 yards, while Parrish put the Hurricanes in front 7-0 1:49 into the contest with an electrifying return down the right sideline. Junior tight end Kellen Winslow added to the special team's heroics with a tackle of the Eagles punter. The play would lead to a Miami touchdown.

The Eagles first of two touchdowns- a Knight 5-yard run- did not come until 11:28 remained in the fourth quarter with the Hurricanes up 33-0. Senior linebacker D. J. Williams anchored the unit with five tackles, while Jonathan Vilma added four. Defensive end Baraka Atkins recorded a sack for the Hurricanes.

"We really tackled well – much better than we have this season- on defense," said UM coach Larry Coker. "I really felt like Randy (Shannon) had a good game plan and the players went out and executed it very well. I liked the aggressiveness we showed defensively."

But what ended up being 19-point victories for the Hurricanes- their 25th consecutive Big East win dating back to Nov. 13, 1999- could have been even more of a run away if not for an offensive unit that could not find any consistency for most of the evening.

Despite 300 yards and accounting for three touchdowns, the Hurricanes offense was plagued by a number of penalties and incompleted passes. Starting quarterback Brock Berlin was 18-of-30 for 151 yards before giving way to back-up Derrick Crudup in the latter stages of the second half.

"We're doing things that certainly can be corrected," said Coker. "But as we know things are only going to get tougher for us."

Coker praised the play of senior running back Jarrett Payton, who took over for starter Frank Gore in the third quarter. Payton rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown on 10 rushes after receiving a significant amount of playing time for the first time in recent memory.

Payton has 136 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries this season. He gained 223 yards on 50 rushing carries all of last season.

"I think he sees where he can be as a player now," said Coker. "Jarrett is protecting the football, getting the yards and running through arm tackles. That is encouraging."

Winslow (41 yards), Jason Geathers (37 yards) and Kevin Beard (20) had four receptions each to pace the passing game.

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