In Need of a Strong Showing

A deep inspection would be required to find anything wrong with the University of Miami Hurricanes after the season's first two months. With six consecutive victories and three of their five remaining regular-season opponents sporting losing records, including Saturday night's opponent North Carolina (3-4), the No. 3 Hurricanes (6-0) are among a handful of teams primed to make a national title run.

Much-maligned starting quarterback Brock Berlin has recorded eight touchdown passes combined in the last two weeks to become a player in the Heisman Trophy race. Eight different receivers caught passes in last week's victory over N.C. State. Everything seems to be marching forward for the Hurricanes.

Everything except the defense.

After opening the season on a record-setting pace, which included allowing one touchdown in 60 possessions and 6.5 points through four games, the Hurricanes defensive unit hasn't exactly handcuffed the opposition as of late.

UM coach Larry Coker is concerned with the sloppy play. After reviewing the game film, Coker concluded that the tackling and passing defense must improve. The Hurricanes have surrendered 553 passing yards and seven touchdowns through the air in its past two games.

Although some of the touchdowns the Hurricanes gave up against the Wolf Pack came after the game was in hand, Coker added that N.C. State made it look easy on more than one occasion. He wants to see that change.

Despite their recent struggles Miami's defense is still ahead of last year's unit at this point in the season - numbers wise anyway. Through six games last season Miami had given up 93 points, including double digits four times. The Hurricanes had surrendered nine touchdowns in the first six games.

The Tar Heels offense, ranked fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, is averaging 371 yards per game with large contributions from senior quarterback Darian Durant (164 passing yards a game) and running back Jacque Lewis (71.6 rushing yards a game). But UM defensive back Antrel Rolle doesn't sound too concerned.

"This is a team and that's the way we play defense," says Rolle. "We're not going to sit here pointing fingers at anybody. We're working hard to correct some stuff and I'm sure we will."

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