Are Canes on the same page?

Apparently a 29-game winning streak, a rise back to national prominence after defeating Nebraska in the title game last January and an overwhelming sentiment around the country that only the University of Miami Hurricanes can beat themselves is having a negative effect on the team, according to senior starting left guard Sherko Haji-Rasouli.

Say it isn't so.

Hard to believe there could be anything wrong with a college football team that hasn't a lost a game in over two years, is the defending national champion and currently enjoys No. 1 status in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.

Haji-Rasouli indicated that some of the players on the team have not been practicing as hard as they should recently and seem to have gotten complacent in the last few weeks. Haji-Rasouli also expressed some discontent with the lack of leadership displayed by some of the older players on the team.

"We're 7-0, but I really don't get that sense of urgency from this team like we had last year," said Haji-Rasouli, who missed the final five games of the 2001 season and all of spring practice with a knee injury that required surgery. "A lot of people are pointing at the run defense. But it's a question of what can those players do to get better. I think our focus obviously needs to get better. We can't just show up on a football field and expect to win because we're the Miami Hurricanes."

Haji-Rasouli added that it's human nature to ‘back off a little' after tasting victory like the Hurricanes did last season. But he hopes some of the veterans on the team- including himself- can show better leadership skills during the remainder of the season in order to avoid a downfall.

Despite giving up over 650 rushing yards in the last two games, the Hurricanes have managed victories over Florida State and West Virginia. And sophomore safety Sean Taylor hasn't sensed any finger pointing on a unit that is still allowing only 286.86 yards a game.

"We know what we're doing wrong," said Taylor, who is third on the team with 39 tackles. "We just have to tackle better and just fill the gaps, you know. We'll be fine."

Taylor did say that several of the ‘young players' need to show better discipline in team meetings and practices.

"Sometimes guys just aren't paying attention, just playing around," said Taylor.

"I would hope that guys like Ken (Dorsey) and Jerome (McDougle) can step it up and lead some of the younger guys through this," Haji-Rasouli said. "We're going to have to play a lot better to get to where we want to go."

But Haji-Rasouli, one of the most soft-spoken players on the team, did say that there was no dissension on the Hurricanes.

"I'm here to win football games and get back to the national championship," said Haji-Rasouli. "Now, we have to get everybody on the same page."

The Hurricanes (8-0, 3-0) travel to meet Rutgers (1-7, 0-4) on Saturday.

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