Tennessee Preview

Miami suffered their first defeat to Virginia Tech last week 31-7. The Hokies dominated the scoreboard, but the Hurricanes out gained the Hokies in total yards 377-219. The biggest difference in the game was the turnovers as Miami had four turnovers in the game compared to two by Virginia Tech.

#17 Tennessee Volunteers (6-2) vs. #7 Miami Hurricanes (7-1)
Orange Bowl – Miami, Florida
November 8 – 12:00 PM Eastern on ABC Regional

Tennessee defeated Duke last week 23-6 in Knoxville. Jabari Davis who rushed for 113 yards on 17 carries led the Volunteers. Tennessee played with out starting tailback Cedric Houston (ankle) and safety Rashad Baker (knee).

Last year Miami defeated Tennessee 26-3 behind Willis McGahee's 154 yards rushing. Miami also got 103 yards receiving from Andre Johnson. Cedric Houston had a big 74-yard run for the Volunteers and finished with 111 yards rushing.

Tennessee Volunteers - Notes and Quotes

Tennessee takes a break from a thick race in the Southeastern Conference, but playing Miami in the Orange Bowl will be no easy task.

"We have an opportunity in front of us to certainly make a very memorable November," head coach Phillip Fulmer said. "We will continue to concern ourselves with what we can control. And that is improvement at practice, and working with a sweat and a purpose to get ourselves to be as efficient as we need to be. Our focus and our goals right now are the same as they were at the beginning of the season. We are one of the teams that have an opportunity to win the Southeastern Conference. Right now that is our total focus."

"This Miami game is a very important football game for a lot of reasons," Fulmer said. "You have two of the four winningest teams since 1983 playing against each other, them being first and us being fourth. It is obvious what a challenge anybody has going into the Orange Bowl playing these guys. Miami is an excellent football team. They are a very well coached football team. They have one of the best defenses that I have seen in the last couple of years, with the exception of last year, because they were exceptional then as well. As a team overall, they are very athletic and they have that long home-winning streak." Tailback Cedric Houston did not play last game due to a sprained ankle, but is expected to play in this week's game. Since Houston came to Tennessee his running style has changed a bit from being a cut-back runner to more of a straight ahead runner.

"When I came in I weighed about 200-205 pounds and now I am about 220-225," Houston said. "I have been getting my weight up and I can't make the cuts that I made in high school. When I am in a good groove I still see the openings and I can make the cut-backs like I did in high school."

Strongside linebacker Kevin Simon has been battling injuries throughout his career and is having a stellar sophomore season leading the team in tackles. Simon played with Miami standout linebacker D.J. Williams in high school and still keep in touch.

"I think everyone on the team understands that this is a big game and a must win situation for both teams," linebacker Kevin Simon said. "I am just ready to get to Miami and play the game. If we want to be where we said we wanted to be during the off-season, then we have to win this game especially with what is going on in the SEC East right now."

Punter Dustin Colquitt has had a solid season with 16 punts inside the 20 to just four touchbacks. His career long is 68 yards, which he set last year against Miami. This year he has been named the Southeastern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week twice.

"So far, so good this year," Colquitt said. "We have a really good protection scheme going. Our protection guys are doing real good and we have guys doing a good job covering punts as well. Field position is something we strive for each game. It creates a big challenge for their offense. Their return guys are going to be the best we have seen this year. We are looking forward to playing Miami after being embarrassed last year."

Miami Hurricanes - Notes and Quotes

After a tough loss to Virginia Tech, Miami is looking to rebound.

"We have a tremendous challenge this weekend with Tennessee," head coach Larry Coker said. "Tennessee as you might expect has a lot of talent and a lot of veterans back this year. They certainly have a fine quarterback in Casey Clausen."

The players understand the magnitude of this game and know that they need this win to get back in the race for the national championship game.

"Tennessee is a big game," defensive end Thomas Carroll said. "We need this win to be where we need to be. It can help us out with the BCS and we just have to win out and see where we will end up."

They also know it wont be easy.

"We are going to have our hands full on Saturday, no doubt about it," offensive lineman Eric Winston said. "They are a pretty good team and a lot of people don't realize that. They are ranked pretty high in the polls and they only have two losses. That's a pretty good team and we are going to have to play pretty good to win the game."

"Tennessee has a pretty varied defense," center Joel Rodriguez said. "They pretty much play the whole package. They blitz a lot, play a lot of zone, a lot of man, they use different fronts. It is going to be a very different approach."

Quarterback Brock Berlin has struggled this year throwing for 12 interceptions and just nine touchdowns. His confidence could be a bit rattled and the coaches know what Berlin needs to do to maintain his confidence.

"I think the main thing is to study tape," Coker said, "and know the defense. You have to understand their personnel and what they are trying to do. There is no shortcut. We still realize that is really a freshman in the system. Sometimes as coaches we forget about that."

Miami suffered two injuries to defensive tackles Orien Harris and Santonio Thomas last week. Both players will be out this week and will be re-evaluated next week. Defensive end Baraka Atkins will make the switch to defensive tackle to help out with the depth there.

"He (Baraka Atkins) is getting in there this week and I think he will present a different challenge for their offensive line," defensive line coach Greg Mark said. "He has a little bit more speed and a little bit more athleticism in there. I think it will work out well. We can always move him back out to end if that is not going well." "I played a little bit of defensive tackle last year during my redshirt year," Atkins said." It is a little bit different. There is not as much room to work in there at defensive tackle. It is pretty much the same type of blocks, but they are just coming at different angles."

"I don't believe we will have any problem re-focusing on winning games," Atkins said. "It is disappointing that we don't control our own destiny, but we just have to win out and hope other teams lose."

Miami Hurricanes – Projected Starters

QB Brock Berlin Junior
TB Jarrett Payton Senior
FB Quadtrine Hill Sophomore
TE Kellen Winslow Junior
WR Kevin Beard Senior
WR Ryan Moore Freshman
LT Eric Winston Sophomore
LG Vernon Carey Senior
C Joel Rodriguez Junior
RG Chris Myers Junior
RT Carlos Joseph Senior

LE Bryan Pata Freshman
LT Baraka Atkins Freshman
RT Vince Wilfork Junior
RE Thomas Carroll Sophomore
WLB D.J. Williams Senior
MLB Jonathan Vilma Senior
SLB Darrell McClover Senior
CB Alfonso Marshall Senior
CB Kelly Jennings Sophomore
FS Sean Taylor Junior
SS Maurice Sikes Senior

Hurricane Injury Status

WR Roscoe Parrish (Knee) Probable
CB Antrel Rolle (Suspension) Out
DT Santonio Thomas (Knee) Out
DT Orien Harris (Knee) Out
FB Talib Humphrey (Achilles) Out
TB Frank Gore (Knee) Out

Team Leaders

Miami

Passing – Brock Berlin (1768 yards 61% 9 TD 12 Int) Rushing – Jarrett Payton (489 yards 4.8 avg 5 TD) Receiving – Kellen Winslow (44 rec 439 yards 1 TD) Ryan Moore (31 rec 417 yards 2 TD) Defense – Sean Taylor (50 tackles 6 Int) Jonathan Vilma (68 tackles) Vince Wilfork (5 sacks) Kicking – Jon Peattie (14-18 FG 26-26 XP)

Tennessee

Passing – Casey Clausen (1789 yards 58% 16 TD 7 Int) Rushing – Cedric Houston (573 yards 5.1 avg 1 TD) Receiving – James Banks (32 rec 459 yards 6 TD) Mark Jones (19 rec 313 yards 2 TD) Defense – Kevin Simon (82 tackles, 3.5 sacks) Robert Peace (77 tackles) Jason Allen (2 Int) Kicking – James Wilhoit (11-16 FG 23-23 XP)

Notable Team Statistics

Tennessee – 96th Nationally in Turnover Margin (-6) Miami – 73rd Nationally in Turnover Margin (-1)

Tennessee – 4th Nationally in Net Punting (42.78) Miami – 5th Nationally in Punt Returns (15.26)

Two Key Match-ups To Watch

When Tennessee has the ball…
WR James Banks vs. CB Alfonso Marshall

Banks needs to establish himself early in the game as the team's go-to guy on offense. The Vols have not been running the ball particularly well this year against solid opponents and it will be up to Banks to help stretch the defense. Marshall will have a larger role this game with the absence to Antrel Rolle. Marshall is a physical cornerback with good size and speed.

When Miami has the ball…
TE Kellen Winslow vs. SLB Kevin Simon

Winslow is the key ingredient for the Canes to be successful on offense. When he gets involved and is able to make plays, the Canes are at their best. Simon will be matching up with Winslow, which should create a solid one-on-one duo in the game. It will be Simon's duty to contain Winslow and keep him in front of him. With safety Rashad Baker likely out of the game, Winslow could slip into the secondary.

Keep Your Eye On

Tennessee DT Mondre Dickerson – Dickerson leads the Volunteers with nine quarterback hurries and is coming off a game, which he set his career high in tackles with 10. Stopping the Miami run is something that Virginia Tech was able to do and for Tennessee to be successful Dickerson and his line mates need to establish the line.

Miami CB Kelly Jennings – Jennings started last year, but relinquished his starting role to Alfonso Marshall this season. With Antrel Rolle serving a one-game suspension mandated by the Big East because of his altercation with DeAngelo Hall last week, Jennings steps in as the team's starting cornerback and will be the nickel back as well.

Coach Larry Coker's Final Word

"One of the things to be successful is to be unselfish and sacrifice a little bit."

Player Quote of the Week

Center Joel Rodriguez on struggling against the blitz packages by opposing teams,

"Virginia Tech just brought more guys than we could block and Ohio State did the same thing. If there is a blueprint to beat us, that is probably it right there."

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com

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