NC State (4-2) vs. #3 Miami (5-0)
Saturday, October 23, 2004
7:45 pm Carter-Finley Stadium (55,600)
Chris Colmer, OT - shoulder sprain
Dovonte Edwards, CB - knee sprain
Andre Maddox, ROV - hamstring strain
T.A. McLendon, TB - hamstring strain
Tank Tyler, DT - knee sprain
T.J. Williams, TE - groin injury
Merci Falaise, OL - knee sprain
Jed Paulsen, C - ankle injury
Miami Scouting Report
|Frank Gore leads Miami's rushing attack|
7 Brock Berlin, QB – Starting quarterback who has only lost two games behind center in his career. Erratic at times with his decision-making, Berlin has plenty of talent to get the job done. He's the key to Miami's offense.
3 Frank Gore, FL – Solid runner who's recovering from two ACL injuries. A hard-nosed runner who is still one of the league's top backs.
1 Roscoe Parrish, WR – Electric wideout who can stretch the field for the Hurricanes. Has good hands and works the middle of the field, despite being a smallish wide receiver.
6 Antrel Rolle, CB – May be the ACC's top player, regardless of position. Rolle is a shut-down cover corner who also excels blitzing off the edge. Physically, he can dominate a game at the cornerback spot.
Antrel Rolle could be the ACC's best player
92 Orien Harris, DT – Productive sophomore defensive tackle who makes plays for the Hurricanes. A leader on the defensive line, Harris will contend for All-ACC honors.
50 Roger McIntosh, OLB – Athletically, McIntosh has what you're looking for at linebacker. He's rangy, athletic, strong, and intense. The sophomore leads a solid Miami linebacking corps.
4 Devin Hester, PR/KR/CB – Hester is possibly college football's top player with the ball in his hands. In space he's a terror and if he gets in front of a defender, forget about it. NC State must keep the ball out of his hands on Saturday.
Miami wants to establish the run. The Hurricanes will use play action and then try to get their set of tight ends involved. They normally won't go shotgun much until they need to, and they did a great late against Louisville.
Randy Shannon is arguably the top defensive coordinator in college football and he keeps everything simple. He won't blitz too much, plays a lot of man on the edges, and lets his athletes make all the plays.
ROLLE'S ‘D' ENOUGH TO START TALKING HEISMAN?
The play of Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle on the defensive side of the football has been so outstanding that his name is being brought up in Heisman Trophy discussions across the country. The senior cornerback from Homestead (South Dade High) has been the most disruptive force on the Hurricanes' defense. In five games, Rolle has 4.5 tackles for loss (51 yards lost), 1.5 sacks, 28 total tackles, an interception, a 47-yard fumble return and five pass breakups. With opponents scheming to take the shutdown corner out of games, Miami has allowed the versatile playmaker to blitz from different angles. He almost single-handily shut down Chris Rix and Florida State in the opener with six tackles, including three tackles for loss (minus-31 yards) and one sack. Rolle is ninth in this week's ‘Heisman Watch' on ESPN.com, and ESPN's Power 16 asks "Is it legal for us to declare Antrel Rolle the baddest man on the college football planet?"
BEST 55-GAME STRETCH IN SCHOOL HISTORY
Miami's 51-4 record over its last 55 games equals the best 55-game stretch in school history. The Hurricanes also went 51-4 from Sept. 14, 1985 (the second game of the 1985 season) to Nov. 4, 1989 (the eighth game of the 1989 season). UM's current 51-4 record dates back to the start of the 2000 season and includes wins in the Sugar, Rose and Orange Bowls.
BERLIN SPREADING IT AROUND
Quarterback Brock Berlin has been extremely effective in spreading the ball around to different receivers and position groups. Ten different Miami pass catchers have at least three receptions, with six of them hauling in at least 25 yards per game. Berlin has connected with six different wide receivers, two tight ends and two running backs. Roscoe Parrish leads the way with 14 catches for 185 yards and a team-high three touchdowns. Tight end Greg Olsen leads the team in total receiving yards (193) and yards per catch (21.4).
JENKINS MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF
Wide receiver Darnell Jenkins made the most of his first career start last Thursday night with a career-high and Miami season-high seven catches. His 68 yards in receptions marked a career best. Jenkins earned his start after an outstanding week of practice and because of Sinorice Moss' injured hamstring.
HESTER LEADS THE COUNTRY IN PUNT RETURNS
Miami punt returner Devin Hester remained at the top of the national rankings with 32.3 yards per return . His nine returns qualify for the national lead ahead of Kevin Robinson of Utah State, who has 11 returns for a 29.55- yard average. Hester made a name for himself with two punt returns for touchdowns against Louisiana Tech, going for 51 and 92 yards. He then tied the school record with his third punt return for a touchdown this season with a 78-yarder against Louisville. His 143 punt return yards against Louisiana Tech were the second most in a single game for a Hurricane in school history (155 by Kevin Williams vs. Penn State, 1991). The 92-yard return also tied Roscoe Parrish's school record for the longest punt return.
PUNTER MONROE BECOMES A WEAPON
After learning the ropes as a true freshman in 2003, punter Brian Monroe has become a weapon in the field position battle. Although he is only averaging 39.8 yards per punt, Monroe has pinned opposing offenses inside their 20-yard line on 11 of his 27 punts (40.7 percent), eclipsing his mark of 10 inside-the-20 kicks for the entire 2003 season. Of those 11 punts, seven were downed inside the opponent's 10-yard line. Opponents have returned only 12 punts for 33 yards through five games with an average of 2.8 yards per return. The longest return against the UM punt cover team and Monroe is nine yards by Willie Reed of Florida State in the season opener.
PUNT RETURNS TOUGH TO COME BY AGAINST MIAMI
The Miami special teams always seem to play a vital role in the Hurricanes' weekly attack. In 2004, UM has not only done an excellent job returning punts, but covering punts as well. Opponents have only returned 12 of Brian Monroe's 27 punts this season. On those 12 punts, opponents have managed only 33 yards, or 2.8 yards per return. The longest return against the Miami punt cover unit was a nine-yard return by Florida State's Willie Reed in the season opener. The Hurricanes have downed 11 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line and seven of those have been downed at or inside the 10-yard line.
TURNOVERS PLAYING A ROLE FOR MIAMI AGAIN IN 2004
After leading the nation with a plus-26 turnover margin in 2001, Miami struggled in 2002 and 2003 to win the turnover battle. In 2004, Miami is returning to form with a plus-1.60 advantage in turnovers per game that ranks tied for fifth nationally. The Hurricanes have recovered eight fumbles and picked off six passes, while losing only three fumbles and throwing three interceptions.
NC State News and Notes
PACK WELCOMES NEW RIVAL
The Miami Hurricanes will travel to Carter-Finley Stadium for only the second time on Saturday for a contest under the lights. Although NC State and Miami have met 10 times on the gridiron, this will mark their first meeting as conference rivals. Eight of those games have been played on the Hurricanes' home field. The only time the two teams have squared off in Raleigh was in 1981, when the ‘Canes won, 14-5. NC State won just three of the matchups, in 1942, 1944 and 1971. Chuck Amato was a graduate assistant coach for the ‘71 team that won in Miami.
The last meeting between the two teams was played at what was deemed a ‘neutral' site - Miami's Pro Player Stadium in the 1998 Micron Bowl. Miami won that contest, 46-23.
THE FLORIDA PIPELINE
Twenty-eight players on the Wolfpack's current roster hail from the state of Florida, including 22 who have seen action this season and 12 who have started. Of those 28 players, 16 are from South Florida and eight of the 11 who have started are from the Miami area. Chuck Amato recruited in South Florida during his 18 years as an assistant coach, while Associate head coach Doc Holliday recruited the same region during his 18 years at West Virginia.
South Florida players made up five of the top 10 tacklers, one of the top three rushers and four of the top five receivers on the team.
NATION'S TOP DEFENDERS
NC State's defense moved back into the national lead in total defense after holding Maryland to 91 yards of total offense, the lowest total ever for a Wolfpack opponent in an ACC game. The defense, which was much-criticized last season after ranking 116th nationally in pass defense, allowing over 284 yards per game. In the total defense column, State ranked 89th nationally, giving up 421 yards per game.
The Wolfpack has held five of its six opponents under 300 yards of total offense this season, and has held four to under 200 yards. Those four tallies under 200 yards mark the first time since 1963 that NC State has touchdown to an ACC team in a road game.
The Pack's performance against Maryland was the thirdbest in the nation this season. NC State has now posted two of the top 15 defensive outings in the country in 2004.
THE GO-TO GUY
Junior wideout Richard Washington has moved into the team-lead in receptions, tallying 20 for the season and ranking seventh in the ACC with 3.33 grabs per game. More than a third of those receptions (7) have been to convert on third (6) or fourth (1) down. In fact, against Maryland, three of Washington's four catches were on 3rd-and-7+ situations. Washington has also become more of a weapon rushing the ball, tallying 128 yards on the ground for the season. The diminutive junior has also become one of the offense's top blockers (at least among his fellow wide receivers).
At 5-11, 171 pounds, Washington weighs 100+ less than the blockers on the offensive line, but he has become one of the team's best blockers. Against North Carolina, he had three catches for 34 yards and his four rushes for 71 additional yards, but as importantly tallied six knockdown blocks. He also earned two coveted "Raleigh Rails" in the contest, which involves driving the defender back at least five yards. In the last three games, he has tallied a dozen knockdown blocks and has 18 for the season.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN THE HURRICANES HAVE THE BALL
Miami's going to try and establish the running game early behind Frank Gore and Tyrone Moss. NC State must be able to take the running game out the equation. That has to be priority #1.
If they are unable to run and play-action pass, Miami will go to the shotgun and allow Berlin to pass the ball down the field. Tight ends Kevin Everett and Greg Olsen are major targets for Berlin, along with wideouts Roscoe Parrish and Darnell Jenkins. Here NC State's going to try and force Berlin to make bad passes and decisions, hoping the Wolfpack can capitalize on a turnover.
The Canes are using a patched-up offensive line, and NC State's defensive front will create problems. Can they stop the Wolfpack's relentless pass rush? That could be the deciding factor in the game.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN THE WOLFPACK HAS THE BALL
Based on the latest injury report, running back T.A. McLendon is listed as 'probable,' meaning he'll play against Miami. Priority #1 for the Wolfpack should be to establish the running game behind McLendon, Bobby Washington, Darrell Blackman, and Reggie Davis.
Quarterback Jay Davis will need to get comfortable early, and that means the offensive front will have to give him time to throw against Miami. The Hurricanes will use a 4-3 alignment the majority of the time, and will play a ton of man coverage with two-deep safety help. Davis will need to make smart decisions and accurate throws against Miami for NC State to have a chance.
Finally, NC State's got to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers. T.J. Williams, Tramain Hall, Richard Washington, and the other athletes for the Wolfpack can play with Miami's defenders. No drops, no fumbles, and no missed blocks will be crucial for NC State to sustain drives against the Hurricanes.
T.A. McLendon and NCSU's RBs vs. Frank Gore and Miami's RBs: With both teams having great defenses, each offense needs to look to establish a ground game. No team has developed a consistent ground game against the Wolfpack all season, and their defense has to play strong against the run for them to have a chance. Whichever offense that can become two-dimensional will have the advantage.
#4 Devin Hester
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Thanks to NC State and Miami Athletics for much of the information in this preview.