Clark Probable Starter

D. J. Williams is likely out and Howard Clark is likely in-at least for one game. Clark, a junior, will start at weak-side linebacker for the No. 1 University of Miami against Troy State in the Orange Bowl on Saturday, Oct. 6, if Williams isn't healthy enough to play.

"Howard has a great chance to start this week if the situation with D. J. doesn't work out," said UM head coach Larry Coker. "Howard is always prepared and has done a great job for us."

It doesn't look promising for Williams.

Williams, a sophomore, had a cast on his injured left ankle and did not particpate in practice earlier this week. He was unavailable for comments regarding his status for Saturday's game.

The 6-2, 244-pounder was helped off the field with a high ankle spain early in the first quarter of Miami's 43-21 victory over Pittsburgh last week.

Williams, who had a noticeable limp after the game, was unable to return and was replaced by Jarrell Weaver. Williams has started every game at weak-side linebacker for the Hurricanes this season and tied for third on the team with 16 tackles.

Clark emerged last season as the starter at weakside linebacker where he started eight games and recorded 60 tackles for the Hurricanes. Clark, who played in 10 games in 2000, had four sacks and tallied 39 tackles in the season's final four games. He had a career best 13 tackles against Virginia Tech last season.

Clark acknowledged earlier in the week that he would welcome the opportunity to start and that staying on the first-team is a priority of his. Although, he went on to say that the final call would be made by the coaching staff.

"Its good anytime you start. Who long its going to last I don't know," said Clark. "Obviously when you come to Miami you don't want to be second-team to anyone."

"You really don't want to play behind anyone, but all I can do is continue to play hard and hope it stays that way. The rest is up to the coaches."

Clark also said that a nagging right foot injury had bothered him throughout the spring and fall, hindering him from competing at full strength.

"I was concerned for Howard because I saw his frustration with the injury and that he felt it was keeping him from competing for the job," Coker said.

Williams beat out Clark in the fall for the starting job at weak-side linebacker only after Clark had been moved to the middle to fill in for injured sophomore Jonathan Vilma.

This only after spending his freshman season as a backup fullback. Williams had 16 carries and 50 yards rushing, along with 12 receptions and 143 yards, last season. After an off-season conversation with Coker it was decided Williams would move back to the defensive side of the ball.

Canes Time Top Stories