Miami Defense To Toss Rix Around

It seems like the University of Miami defensive unit slipped a tape of the Felix Trinidad-Bernard Hopkins middle championship fight in the VCR in preparation for their own confrontation Saturday against Florida State.

Miami defenders are intent on utilizing the same gameplan that worked for the newly crowned Hopkins in his one-sided victory over Trinidad-keep the pressure on and don't let up.

Seminoles beware: Miami's plan calls for an entire afternoon of harrasing the FSU offense. The Hurricanes defense has prepared to hit anything in a garnet jersey for 60 minutes at Doak Campbell Stadium.

"You can't really ever say what's going to happen before a game of this magnitude," said Miami junior defensive end Andrew Williams. "The one I know is that there is going to a lot of guys with bumps and bruises. We're going to very physical on defense."

Williams said that there will be plenty of guys with loads of speed on the field when the No.1 Hurricanes face No. 14 Florida State-for both teams. The only way to combat quickness is by wearing the opponent down, says the the junior-college transfer.

"We have to make our presence felt as a defense," said Williams said. "The way you do that is by making plays and hitting people."

Speaking of hitting people, the Hurricanes have designated a special target once the whistle blows to start the game. Unfortunately, Florida State freshman quarterback Chris Rix may not want to read the next sentence.

Wherever Rix decides to go on Saturday, the Hurricanes plan to be right there with him. If that doesn't serve as enough warning for the first-year player from Santa Margarita, California maybe this will.

"Getting to their quarterback is our No. 1 priority. We want to get to him as much as possible and let him know were back there," said junior defensive tackle Matt Walters. "The more we get him on the ground, the more it'll get in his head."

The consensus among the Hurricanes defense is that an accumulation of hits and sacks-although, that is secondary-on Rix will open the door to some big things for Miami on Saturday.

"We can do all the film studying and game-planing we want, but we have to get to Rix," said Williams.

Rix, who has thrown for 838 yards and seven touchdowns this season, will be making just his fifth career start when he takes the field against Miami. And if the past is of any indication, Rix won't be very happy around 4 p.m. two days from now.

First-year starting quarterbacks in the Florida State-Miami series haven't fared too well. Quaterbacks starting in the series for the first time are 4-9 since 1989.

Aside from the previous two seasons-Ken Dorsey in 2000 and Chris Weinke in 1999, Thad Busby was the last starting quarterback to come away with a victory in the state rivalry. Although Busby was 8-of-17 for 125 yards and was sacked twice, the Seminoles defeated Miami 34-16.

Some of the other quarterbacks haven't been so fortunate. In 1998, Scott Covington was sacked six times and held to 165 yards passing as the Seminoles dropped the Hurricanes, 26-14. Ryan Clement threw two interceptions and was sacked three times in a UM loss in 1995. Twelve years ago, Gino Torretta was intercepted four times in a Florida State 24-10 victory.

Rix has shown the kind of mobility and quickness that have people in Tallahassee recalling the Charlie Wards days. Rix, who has 134 yards on 30 attempts, isn't afraid to tuck the ball in his arm and make a run for it.

"Chris Rix is fearless and from what I've seen would go through a wall," said Miami head coach Larry Coker. "He like to compete and will do anything to win a ballgame."

At this stage of his development, Rix may depend a lot on his legs although the Hurricanes defense is hungry for some....Rix.

"We have plenty of speed too, so I guess it'll be a track meet. I like our chances," Williams said.

The Hurricanes defense, which has allowed 35 points in four games this season and has recorded a shutout, doesn't think they will lose sight of Rix.

"We're going to be right there," said Walters. "We want to shake him up a bit."

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