A hitting machine

Sean Taylor has developed a nasty reputation. A reputation that leaves opposing running backs and wide receivers reaching for the Tylenol bottle, while at the same time sends his University of Miami teammates into hysteria on the sidelines.

It may sound like fireworks going off or an 18-wheeler barreling into a tricycle. But Taylor is making creating quite a buzz- in the Big East and nationally- with his tendency to deliver crushing hits and send opponents to the turf, bent over in pain.

"I don't go out there with the intentions of hurting anybody," said the sophomore Hurricanes starting free safety. "And I don't have any kind of style. I just look to put myself in position to make a play."

Taylor, who has started all six games for the Hurricanes and is fourth in tackles with 29, hasn't laid anybody out in his short career at the University of Miami with one of those devastating tackles. Although, he does recall a play in high school that resulted in the opposing player needing help to get off the field.

"The last time I can remember was against Florida Christian in 11th grade," said Taylor, who recorded 100 tackles and 1,300 rushing yards as a senior to lead Miami Gulliver Prep to the Class 2A state title. "I don't remember putting anybody out in little league. But I remember running people over."

"I don't look for the big hit, but if it's there I'll take it. It depends. If I'm going towards the sidelines and I can take a good, clean hit then I will. I like to use my shoulder."

So far this season, Taylor has saved his best for the Hurricanes biggest games. Against Florida in September, Taylor recorded a season-high nine tackles, including a head-jarring stop of Gators running back Earnest Graham. Taylor was also key in Miami's 28-27 victory over Florida State Oct. 12 with eight tackles. One of those featured a sideline shot of FSU running back Nick Maddox.

"I enjoy playing hard all the time," said Taylor.

After playing in nine games last season for the national champion Hurricanes and collecting 26 tackles, Taylor has quickly turned into a steady member of the Hurricanes secondary that ranks first in the nation in pass defense. Miami is allowing just 117.83 yards passing per game and has been beaten for four touchdowns through the air all season.

"We missed some assignments against Florida State, but overall we're doing well," Taylor said.

"Oh man, that kid is just a rock," says Miami offensive lineman Sherko Haji-Rasouli. "I'm glad I don't have to see him much in practice. I can't imagine taking one of those full-tilt shots from Sean."

BCS STATUS ALRIGHT- FOR NOW: Despite sitting atop both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today coaches polls, the Hurricanes (6.41) trail the Oklahoma Sooners (3.92 in the first Bowl Championship Standings, released Monday night.

But unlike a year ago, when UM players and coaches publicly expressed their displeasure with the BCS system, the Hurricanes accepted the results with a shrug of the shoulders this time around.

"It's really an end of the year formula trying to put the best two teams together," said Miami coach Larry Coker. "If we take care of our business and win, things will work out. The system is designed to take the top two teams and I'm confident that will be the case."

Said Taylor: "I don't worry too much about the polls. I just go out and play football."

The Hurricanes ended up with the 6.41 total after receiving one point for poll average, 4.33 for computer average, 1.08 for strength of schedule, none for losses and no bonus-point deductions. Miami's strength of schedule, currently rated 27th overall, will increase with games against Tennessee and Virginia Tech remaining.

"You know, I was reading the paper this morning and it hit me," said UM senior offensive lineman Sherko Haji-Rasouli. "But there are so many games left we can't lose focus with that stuff. We have to focus on West Virginia. I'm just confident that the system will have the best two teams playing at the end of the season."

Miami offensive lineman Chris Myers said he had no idea how the BCS rankings are computed when asked at Tuesday's team press conference. But Myers is interested in two things.

"I have no clue how they do that," Myers said. "All I know is this- we need to keep winning and we want every team that's played us to win the rest of their games. That should take care of the BCS on our end."

Notre Dame, which is ranked sixth in the AP poll, is third in the BCS standings with a 7.07 points total in large part because of strength of schedule and favorable computer poll rankings. The Fighting Irish,, are No. 1 in four of the seven computer polls. Virginia Tech (8.63) is fourth, while Georgia (8.69) is fifth.

The BCS standings, a points calculation that includes the AP and coaches polls, computer polls, strength of schedule, won-loss records and a bonus-points system, will determine which two teams will play for the national title at the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.

ROWDY CROWD: The Hurricanes are expecting to get an earful when they make their appearance at Mountaineer Field on Saturday. Although West Virgina's home stadium is small in capacity and seats just 63.500 fans, the open-air structure facility can be an intimidating place for any visiting opponent to play in.

And the Hurricanes know just how rowdy the West Virginia crowd can get during a football game. "They'll fill it up," said Coker when asked about the West Virginia fans. "They'll back their team and it's about as lively a place as you can get. I think they like to play Miami."

Miami players and coaches weren't exactly received with red-carpet treatment during several visits to Morgantown in the late 90's. The Hurricanes complained of West Virginia fans throwing objects on the field and shouting obscenities after a 10-7 UM victory in 1996. In 1998, Miami equipment manager Bobby Revilla escaped serious injury after dodging a garbage can thrown from the stands.

"I haven't played down there, but I've heard all the crazy stories and how they get. I'm looking forward to playing there."

LIAR, LIAR: As is the case for every game, the coaching staff arranges for a guest speaker to deliver a pep talk before each UM game. So before the Florida State game, the Hurricanes received a few words of encouragement from former Minnesota Vikings receiver Cris Carter.

"He told us he was retired," said Coker. "Obviously, he lied. He's a liar." Carter signed with the Miami Dolphins on Monday.

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