Atkins, Defensive Line Creating Havoc

Junior Baraka Atkins teamed up with rest of the Hurricane's defensive line to create havoc for highly touted Marcus Vick and Virginia Tech's offense. The defense sacked Vick four times and never gave him time to get into a groove. They look to do the same against Wake Forest tomorrow.

"It was a great win," Atkins said. "It felt good. We went up there and played football the way we should have been playing all year. Now we just have to move on to the next game. The Virginia Tech game is done and over with."

The ‘Canes defense knew it was just a matter of time before they would start getting more turnovers and getting a few defensive touchdowns. It happened last Saturday, when the ‘Canes caused six turnovers including a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

"It feels good," Atkins said. "We always go out there trying to get as many turnovers as we can. It was even better that we got six and we were able to score a defensive touchdown for the first time this year. It just a great feeling when you know you played a complete game."

The ‘Canes next opponent is Wake Forest (4-6). The ‘Canes need to avoid a letdown after their big win at Virginia Tech.

"We are going to prepare like we do for every other game," Atkins said. "Go in there and make the correct calls and play ball."

Atkins feels the Virginia Tech win sets the tone for the rest of the season.

"I think this win is a big motivational factor," Atkins said. "I mean it jump starts the rest of our season. We have three more regular season games, the ACC championship game and then the bowl game."

The ‘Canes struggled to stop the run last season and it played a huge factor in the three losses in 2004, but this year the defense has been able to stuff the opposition's running game. Baraka has teamed up with fellow defensive tackles Kareem Brown, Orien Harris, and the rest of the ‘Canes defense to hold opposing teams to 2.7 yards per carry on the ground this year.

"This defense has been together for a year or two now," Atkins said. "We work better with each other. We have become more physical and better at running our scheme."

If the ‘Canes continue to take care of business, the Rose Bowl could very well be in the Hurricanes' future.

"We don't control too much of that," Atkins said. "We just have to hold up our end and that is to win. We just have to win the rest of our games and hopefully we will get there. If not so be it. It will be a disappointment, because we would definitely like to be in the national championship game. We feel we have a national championship caliber team."

The Hurricanes defense currently ranks first in the country in yards allowed (215 per game).

"It feels great being ranked number one," Atkins said. "It's an honor to be here at the University of Miami and be the number one defense in the country."

This season Atkins switched from defensive end to defensive tackle, a position he had only played occasionally in his career. Through eight games Atkins ranks fifth on the team in tackles with 39 and leads all defensive linemen in solo tackles with 20.

"I think I have played well in the defensive scheme," Atkins said. "As always everyone wants to make more plays, but we are winning so that's all I can ask for."

Atkins and the number one defense take on Wake Forest (4-6) in Winston Salem, N.C. at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 12.

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