Mid-season report card almost perfect

After six games that all resulted in victories, extending the nation's longest winning streak to 28, the University of Miami football team has reached the midway point of the 2002 season.

And little has changed.

The Hurricanes (6-0) are still undefeated, ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today coaches polls, sporting a Heisman Trophy candidate, behind in the Bowl Championship Standings and in control of their own destiny.

Just like at this stage last season,, the Hurricanes once again are trailing in the all important BCS Standings. But sitting at No. 2 Miami could avoid any controversy by winning their remaining six games and securing one of two spots in the national title Fiesta Bowl Jan. 3. Remember although Miami's strength of schedule sits at 1.08 in the current BCS standings that will only increase after games against Tennessee and Virginia Tech.

No matter how the calculations are done the BCS is worthy of an F for failure. But the same isn't true about the Hurricanes.

Let's checkout the mid-season report card.

QUARTERBACKS: Senior starter Ken Dorsey isn't exactly running away with the Heisman Trophy Award. But although he has been pressured and had his timing disrupted more than ever this season, Dorsey has performed like a champion when it matters most- with the game of the line. That has never been more evident than against Florida State several weeks ago when Dorsey shook off a first half filled with errant passes and interceptions to lead the Hurricanes back from a 13-point deficit. Dorsey's comeback effort consisted of a two-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Beard and an 11-yarder to Jason Geathers. By doing so, Dorsey continued to prove his critics- including myself- wrong. Even on a day when he does not complete more than half his passes, Dorsey is able to throw for 362 yards.

Against Florida A&M, Dorsey was limited to 13 passes because of the Hurricanes were rolling, while at Florida he threw four interceptions. Dorsey wasn't great against Temple or Boston College, either. So what does he do? Dorsey slaps FSU around with the money on the table.

Nothing against back-up QB Derrick Crudup, but the less he plays the better off the Hurricanes will be. Even in a limited role, Crudup still has a tendency to get rattled and look to run on every play. He needs work. But the Hurricanes better make sure it comes in practice. Derrick gets a B-.

Dorsey may not be the most gifted quarterback around, but he manages to always get the job done. He gets an ‘A' in my book.

RUNNING BACKS: Funny how things work. Several months ago, the Hurricanes were holding hope that injured running back Frank Gore would still be able to play this season. But that's a thing of the past considering the way Willis McGahee and Jason Geathers have performed.

As good as the UM passing game is it hasn't always been clicking this year. Still. McGahee has stepped up big consistently- no matter the situation. McGahee, who is 11th in the nation in rushing, cemented his big-game capabilities by putting up over 200 rushing yards against Florida and setting up Miami's winning touchdown against Florida State with a 68-yard screen pass. With over 700 all-purpose yards, McGahee has clearly been Miami's most consistent offensive weapon. Without McGahee, the pressure on Dorsey would have been even worse. Geathers has been superb and could start for a good percentage of the teams around the country. He has shown this season that he can run over or around people. A ‘B' for Jason sounds right.

There is nothing wrong with your running game if you can't make room for a player like Gore. Give me an ‘A-'.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Andre Johnson may not be doing a lot of talking off the field. But he has more than made up for it on the field. Johnson, a potential top-10 NFL draft pick, hasn't taken over games but has played solidly despite a shoulder surgery early in the year. Kevin Beard, Ethnic Sands and Roscoe Parrish have all had their moments but as a group they need to step it up. Give them a ‘B'.

TIGHT ENDS: Somebody knows what they're doing in Coral Gables. How in the world do you lose a Jeremy Shockey and end up with somebody that could be better than him. So is the case with sophomore Kellen Winslow, who leads the team in receptions with 22. Winslow, who has receiver speed and great size, came up big against FSU with six receptions. He is only going to get better. Give him an ‘A'.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Talk about stepping up. Miami was ravaged by the loss of Bryant McKinnie, Joaquin Gonzalez and Martin Bibla, the Hurricanes figured the line wasn't as good. But despite allowing several sacks, the young players on the line have been solid. They earn a ‘B'.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Except for the first half of the Florida State game these guys have done a great job. The only negative here is that they can sometimes be vulnerable to run up the middle. It's an ‘A-'.

LINEBACKERS: The defensive line controls the front and the middle guys make plays. And Jonathan Vilma (49 tackles) and D. J. Williams (45 tackles) have made lots of them. Although Vilma isn't very vocal, the former Gables High standout has excelled in all areas and really taken over as leader of the defense. He is rarely out of position and doesn't miss many tackles. Williams is finally showing what he is capable of. Both players deserve an ‘A'.

SECONDARY: Heading into the season the young secondary was everybody's major concern. But they have all responded with steady seasons. The only team that really offered a challenge was the Gators. But the UM secondary turned in a solid showing with Mo Sikes returning an interception for a touchdown. The defensive backs have also benefited from the defensive line ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks. We might not know until next year if this secondary is real good. But they have been impressive in the early going and deserve a B+.

COACHING: Talk about a task. Anybody is encouraged to call me if they can find anything wrong with the job coach Larry Coker has done. The Hurricanes are always prepared coming out of the locker room and make tremendous adjustment whenever needed. The only thing I would question Coker on this season is the fact that Kellen Winslow II wasn't used more against Florida State. Coker is 18-0 as UM coach. And deserving of an ‘A'.

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