Where's Tony Robbins?

You are the No. 1 college football team in the nation coming off a decisive victory over the Florida Gators in their home stadium. You have just silenced every critic who boosted that the young secondary wasn't ready for a quarterback declared an early Heisman Trophy candidate and that the green offensive line had never witnessed anything close to the 85,000 gathered at Florida Field.

But now you must focus on last year's celler dwellers of the Big East Conference and perhaps one of the five worst teams in all of college football.

That's the scenario facing the top-ranked University of Miami Hurricanes (2-0) as they board a plane to Philadelphia to face the Temple Owls (1-1) at Franklin Field, Saturday, Sept. 14 in the Big East Conference opener for both teams. Kickoff is at 12:06 p.m.

The Hurricanes- which have the longest winning streak in the nation at 24- are riding high after a dominant 41-16 victory over Rex Grossman and Gators in which they limited the Heisman hopeful to 191 yards on 19-of-45. The 41 points scored by the Hurricanes were the most Florida had allowed at home in 32 years.

On the other hand, Temple (1-1) is coming off a 35-3 loss to Oregon State and former UM head coach Dennis Erickson. The Owls have dropped three of their last four games dating back to Oct. 27, 2001 and are coming off a 2-5 finish in the conference.

Imagine being Miami head coach Larry Coker this week and having to ready the troops for the Owls just a few days after disposing of one of Hurricanes' most hated rivals in enemy territory. Tony Robbins might have trouble getting the defending champions to show any interest in the Owls.

But for whatever its worth Coker is giving it his best shot.

Coker, a perfect 14-0 since taking over for Butch Davis last year, has already warned his team about being complaisant and letting their guard down against the Owls. Despite Temple's recent struggles in the Big East, which include five last-place finishes since 1991, Coker isn't buying into the notion that the Hurricanes will coast to another victory this coming Saturday.

"I was on the teleconference with all the writers from Philadelphia and one of them asked me how it felt to be 3-0 already," said Coker, who apparently was upset by the question. "That's as ridiculous a statement I've ever heard in my life. I have a lot of respect for (Temple head coach) Bobby Wallace and his coaching staff." Now all Coker has to do is get the Hurricanes to believe him.

Miami has toyed with Temple in a series that dates back 72 years and has caused the Owls plenty of headaches. The Hurricanes, which own a 10-game winning streak in the series, have outscored Temple 138-17 in the last three years. UM has surrendered just three touchdowns to the Owls since 1998 and have two shutouts in the last three years.

The only Temple victory over Miami? 1930 in Philadelphia.

Miami junior offensive lineman Vernon Carey wasn't even a thought 72 years ago. And apparently Carey isn't losing too much sleep over the Hurricanes' next opponent.

The 360-pounder has more important things ... "Yeah it is- it'll be tough to get up for them," said Carey, when asked about playing Temple. "But they're on the schedule and that means we have to line-up and go after it. If we go out there and play the way we know how to then we shouldn't have a problem. But we're approaching this like any other week- very business like."

Carey said all the ‘right things' about Temple. But he left some doubt on whether or not the Hurricanes are indeed looking ahead.

"We still have a long way to go to be a great team and reach our ultimate goal," said Carey. "We're still making a lot of mistakes and have to do a better job of pass protecting and keeping Kenny safe back there. I know a lot of people are making us out to be world-beaters, but this team isn't there yet. It's going to take some time."

The Owls have bigger problems, and the Hurricanes might be the least of them.

For a couple of seasons now there have been rumblings about Temple being dropped from the Big East. Under pressure from the league's committee and mounting pressure throughout the country, the Owls last season in the conference is expected to be 2004.

The news hasn't been much better on the field, either.

Last week, Temple had 109 passing yards –to the Beavers 269- and the offense could only manage a 39-yard field goal by Cap Poklemba. Offensively, the Owls were just 4-14 on third-down conversions for a 28.6 percentage. Looking for a positive?

Temple senior running back Tanardo Sharps, who entered the season ranked fifth all-time in career rushing yards with 1,993, gained 95 yards on 22 carries against Oregon State, just falling short of his 11th 100-yard rushing game. For the season, Sharps has 216 yards on 52 carries. Sophomore starting quarterback Mike McGann is off to a bad start evidenced by his numbers in the early going. In two games, McGann is 31-of-65 with six interceptions and two touchdown passes. He has accumulated 312 yards passing and has a completion percentage of 47.7.

Senior receiver Sean Dillard, who did not play against Oregon State and is questionable for the UM game with an ankle sprain, gives the Owls a solid downfield threat. Dillard is coming off a 2001 season in which he led the Big East Conference in receptions per game (4.64) and was second in receiving yards (747) and receiving yards per game (67.9). Dillard had five receptions for 48 yards in the season-opener against Richmond.

Defensively, the Owls are anchored by senior defensive lineman Dan Klecko, who after sitting out the season-opener recorded five tackles against Oregon State last week.

"Dan Klecko is a standout," said Coker. "Dennis Erickson says he's a pest."

Miami will be without junior star receiver Andre Johnson, who had arthroscopic surgery to remove loose particles from his left shoulder on Monday. Coker said that he expects Johnson to be ready to rejoin the team by Sept. 21 when the Hurricanes host Boston College. But Coker did added that the shoulder had been giving Johnson trouble ‘for sometime'.

Coker will increase the load of freshmen receivers Aikeem Jolla and Ryan Moore in Johnson's absence. Moore, who has yet to play this season, has been practicing for the last several weeks despite trying to overcome an ankle injury. Jolla has one reception on the season- a 39-yard TD score in the opener against Florida A&M. Receivers Roscoe Parrish, Ethnic Sands and Kevin Beard will also be ‘getting more reps' according to Coker. Through two games, Johnson leads the Hurricanes with seven receptions and 100 yards.

"It's been something that has been bothering him and it was something that needed to be done," said Coker, who added that Johnson won't return until medically cleared.

Still, Coker stressed the point of going forward with the players that are available to play. "Well we have a chance to be a great team- if we continue to play like we do," said Coker. "But that doesn't mean we don't have a lot of things to correct. The penalties and some other mental mistakes that we have to eliminate if we want to be a good team."

The Hurricanes probably won't need to correct a lot of things to on Saturday.

Canes Time Top Stories