Canes Must Run The Ball

Just one look at the man should be enough to stop anybody short of challenging University of Miami offensive line coach Art Kehoe on anything that comes out of his mouth. Even at 46 and long removed from his playing days, Kehoe still exhibits some of the qualities of a wired up gridiron performer: bulging eyes, booming vocal cords and ready-to-run-over-somebody enthusiasm.

And it really doesn't matter what day of the week it is because nothing ever seems to change with the longest tenured coach on the Hurricanes staff. Kehoe always moves as if he were late for an appointment and that includes those daily walks with Donnie Soldinger. Kehoe talks as if everybody in the room were deaf even if the person he's having a conversation with is three feet away. Kehoe can't stay still even trapped amid a horde of cameras and microphones in the back in the room

Only this week he is a little more excited than usual. It's Miami-Florida State week.

So there was Kehoe Tuesday afternoon – that's right Tuesday afternoon - inside the Edgerrin James Conference Room pounding his right fist on a table as he talked about what the all-of-a-sudden underdog Hurricanes (6.5 points to be exact) need to do in order to come out of Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday with their perfect record intact.

"We're going to have to run the football. I don't care if it's one yard, two yards or three yards. We need to stick with the running game," says Kehoe. "I know they're probably going to stack the box and dare us to throw the football. But we need to keep them honest. Florida State has some horses up front and if we get into third-and-10 and third-and-12 situations they're just going to make us one-dimensional. We need to run the ball."

Couldn't agree with you more coach.

Going into Tallahassee with Jarrett Payton as your lead running back instead of Frank Gore in all likelihood will diminish the effectiveness of the Hurricanes' ground game, for obvious reasons, no matter what all the players and coaches say. But the Hurricanes have no other choice than to run Payton right into that vaunted Seminoles defensive front if they have any intentions of pulling this one out. Chances are Jarrett won't turn in a 150 or 200-yard day against a Florida State defense that is extremely cheap when it comes to allowing rushing yards (89.2 per game) and points (7.4).

Still I'll take my chances with Payton creating a slight dent in the Seminoles run defense and opening up opportunities in the passing game for the Hurricanes. That is the only way Miami can stay in the game and possibly win it. No way can the Canes expect to roll up a fourth consecutive ‘W' against Florida State with starting quarterback Brock Berlin throwing the ball 52 times and putting the entire responsibility of the team's offense on his shoulders. It just isn't going happen. Besides the final quarters against Florida, Berlin has yet to show that he can consistently move the Hurricanes from one side to the other. Berlin also has a habit of making horrendous throws under limited pressure. And let's remember that was with Gore in the line-up.

That's not to say that Berlin can't make plays against the Seminoles. With the Seminoles expected to use single coverage on all-world tight end Kellen Winslow that will likely give Berlin some shots with his other receivers. But Payton without question – not Winslow, Kevin Beard, Roscoe Parrish, Ryan Moore or Jason Geathers- is the key here. He can soften up everything with modest production on Saturday. Payton will get the first crack to show what he can do against the Seminoles. But don't forget Tyrone Moss. Moss should get some big carries now that Gore is done for the season.

But whoever it is controlling the tempo of the game is magnified a lot more when two teams of equal talent collide. So by forcing the issue with their running game the Hurricanes would do just that besides keeping the FSU offense off the field and the pressure off of Berlin. But it will be a long day if the Hurricanes have to throw the ball 50 times or more. Want proof? Just go back to last week against West Virginia when Berlin set career-highs for passing yards and passes attempted but the Hurricanes barely escaped (although putting Berlin in shot-gun formation for 60 minutes probably wouldn't hurt either).

Bottom line: Miami needs to attempt to run the ball against Florida State for any chance at an upset (UPSET?) that would certainly fire up Coach Kehoe even more.

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