Having a Solid '04 Season

This week the Miami Hurricanes will square off against Clemson University at 7:45 Saturday night in the Orange Bowl. Punter Brian Monroe will play a big role in trying to contain Clemson return man Justin Miller. After struggling as a freshman last season, Monroe worked hard in the off-season to correct his problems.

Last season punter Brian Monroe lost a lot of his confidence. He weathered an inconsistent season in which he averaged just 35.7 yards per punt. Monroe would worry about a bad kick rather than focusing on the next one.

To remedy the situation, Monroe worked hard during the off-season. The 6-2, 201 pound sophomore out of Palm Beach Gardens worked diligently with Mike McCabe, a coach he worked with back in high school.

"We did a lot of mental stuff," Monroe said. "We worked a lot on getting my head in the game. If I had a bad kick, I would think about it on my next kick and it would mess me up. We worked on forgetting things and moving on to the next one."

Not only did Monroe look to improve the mental aspect of his kicking game, he had to clean up his technique also.

"We also worked on my drop. It was pretty much my drop that was messing me up last season. I was holding the ball sideways, but we changed drop to where my hand is more underneath and thumb on top, so it decreases shanks. If I get the drop right, than it works."

Monroe's kicking and punting will be crucial this week as the Hurricanes face Clemson and junior punt and kickoff returner Justin Miller. Miller is second in the country in kick returns, averaging 33.9 yards per return, while returning two for touchdowns. On punt returns Miller averages 14.7 yards per return and has one touchdown.

However, the special teams for Miami have performed well. The Canes are second in the nation in punt return yardage defense, giving up just 2.93 yards per punt return. Monroe is aware of what Miller can do, but if Monroe does his job he is confident Miller will have a quiet day.

"I've seen him in the FSU game and he looked good. He returned two kickoffs (for touchdowns). We have a really good cover team. I feel if I can get the hang time, we can pin him down," Monroe said.

If Miller does break one loose on the defense, Monroe has showed he is not afraid to make the tackle. Monroe is a good athlete, who was timed running a 4.5 40 in high school. Monroe jokes about his tackling with the defense and they try to give him as much advice as he needs.

"If it comes up, it comes up. I don't believe in going for it, but if it does, than it does. The defensive guys just tell me to go for the legs, and knock yourself out," Monroe said.

Punters do not get a lot of credit for what they do. It is of course not as physically demanding as other positions, because a punter must rely on form, technique and fluidity. Punting is much like golf, if you try to overpower it, the ball is going to hook and slice.

"Everyone thinks that we just go out there and punt the ball and then we just go and sit on the sideline. But, there is a lot to that. Not everyone can get a perfect spiral, get hang time, and get it into position. When we are done we work on out drops and steps. We do what we have to do to get ourselves ready."

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