Canes not overlooking FAMU QB

Casey Printers fits the bill perfectly. At 6-3 and 208 pounds, Printers has the ability to stay on his feet after that initial hit. With lightning-quick speed and reflexes, the young man from DeSoto, Texas can also make a lot of would-be-tacklers come up empty. And he also has the skills to make opponents pay for their mistakes.

Dearly.

If Printers looks fast, strong and indestructible it's because he's

"Casey is a great athlete who can do it all," said Florida A&M head coach Billy Joe. "But what makes him special is that he can make something out of nothing. That's what separates Casey from a lot of other quarterbacks."

Printers, a former Texas Christian University record-setting quarterback, will be wearing the Rattlers' orange and green for the first time ever Saturday, Aug. 31 as he leads Florida A&M into the Orange Bowl against the top-ranked Hurricanes. And although most observers might already be pointing towards next week's in-state clash against the Gators, Printers presents Miami's defense with its initial exam of the 2002 season.

UM head coach Larry Coker is certainly aware of that especially with a young and banged up secondary that will take the field for the top-ranked Hurricanes opposite Printers. Defensive back Kelley Jennings, slated to start at right corner, re-injured his right thumb earlier this week and will miss the game after undergoing surgery. Jennings had a pin placed in his hand and might play Sept. 7 in Gainesville. Senior safety James Scott broke his left wrist in practice last week and will be out four weeks.

With Jennings and Scott out of the contest, Al Marshall will start opposite Antrel Rolle. Freshman Glenn Sharpe will back-up Marshall at least against the Rattlers. Freshman Greg Threat will also play a significant role in reserve.

"You're absolutely right," said Coker, when asked about the chances of the Hurricanes secondary being put to the test early against Printers. "We're young back there and not to experienced so I expect them to come after us. I know I would. Our guys are going to make some mistakes, but we just have to keep them to a minimum. It's going to be a test in terms of match-ups back there."

The Hurricanes defensive front made the rounds during the off-season as one of the best overall units in the nation. And a solid pass-rush by the likes of sophomore Vince Wilfork, seniors Andrew Williams, Jerome McDougle and Matt Walters will be of significance if the Hurricanes plan to contain Printers.

"You have to put pressure on the quarterback no matter who it is," said Wilfork. "To be successful as a defensive line that is a must."

Wilfork has said all off-season that the key to stopping a quarterback like Printers is to "toss him around" and "bring him down" as many times possible in the course of a game.

"We need to pound him," said Wilfork.

That would be a good start.

Printers, an early contender for the Heisman Trophy Award, has unquestioned skills. A three-year starter for the Horned Frogs before deciding to transfer to Tallahassee because of a coaching change and system philosophy, Printers led TCU to a 23-8 record and three consecutive postseason bowl games.

Printers completed a school-record 56 percent of his passes (324 completions of 578 attempts) in three seasons and finished his career at the school as the third all-time leading passer (4,621 yards, 37 touchdown passes). He added a career-high 16 touchdowns passes in 2000 after throwing for 1,824 yards last season. Printers completed 136 of 252 passes and 13 touchdowns in 2001.

He recently gave the Rattlers a glimpse of what could be in store this season with over 380 yards passing and four touchdowns in a scrimmage last week.

Now, Printers is set to take over the Rattlers 'Gulf Coast' offense which requires a quarterback to make play calls at the line and seek both a vertical and horizontal stretch. And Joe didn¹t even hesitate to hand over the responsibity.

"I didn't realize he was such an athlete. He's the best quarterback I've had as far as athleticism."

Not only does he give Florida A&M a player that can operate their fast-paced offensive system, Printers brings quality leadership and big-game experience. And he is ready to prove it.

"I've played in a lot of big games before against Nebraska, Southern Miss. And Louisville so that's something that doesn't really concern me," said Printers, a senior. "Games aren't decided in the press box, in the stands or in the newspaper."

"I'm sure we're both going to make mistakes it's just a matter of going out there prepared and with a plan. I'm going to play my game and go from there. The only thing that concerns me is losing. That¹s why I'm going to leave it all out there. It's not really a big deal playing a school like Miami. We just have to be ready."

Thanks to his foot-speed and right arm, Printers has already drawn comparisons to former Syracuse quarterback and Philadelphia Eagles All-Pro Donovan McNabb. Printers, who was recruited by Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Arizona State and Syracuse, has developed a close friendship with McNabb since the late 90's and both players worked out all summer last year.

"We worked on my timing with receivers, hand and eye coordination and he taught me when to or not to throw the ball," said Printers. "He's one of the guys I really admire because he does things the right way."

Said Coker: "We won't need to wait until Florida to get tested. Casey is a great player and that's there philosophy (throwing the ball) on offense. There's no doubt we'll be severely tested. That's what we're expecting anyway."

WHAT: Florida A&M @ Miami
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 31
WHERE: Orange Bowl
SERIES HISTORY: Miami leads 4-1
LAST GAME: Sept. 4, 1999; UM 57, Florida A&M 3
AT THE ORANGE BOWL: UM leads 4-0
NOTEWORTHY: The Rattlers have failed to score a touchdown in four games against the Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl since 1980.

OULOOK: Alright, so the Hurricanes secondary is coming in green for this one and is bound to make a mistake, especially with quarterback Casey Printers firing away at them. But Miami just have too many weapons on both sides of the ball. But for halftime -when the Florida A&M Marching Band makes an appearance- don¹t expect much noise out of the Rattlers.

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