Game of the Week: Miami-Tennessee

As we move through November our focus this week is on a contest that was most anticipated when the season began as the Hurricanes fly to Knoxville and take on the Volunteers. A game offering two programs that consistently put a flood of prospects into the NFL with one team trying to stay up in the BCS rankings and the other looking to pull a big upset, redeeming a disappointing campaign in '01. Here are some of the better match-ups.

Game of the Week: Miami-Tennessee

The Lines of Scrimmage: A Virtual Scouting Encyclopedia

There is so much talent on both sides of the line the story of this game will be written in the trenches. The Hurricanes have three potential initial frame choices up front (William Joseph, Vince Wilfolk, Jerome McDougle) with another, Andrew Williams, working his way into the first day.  Yet an additional pair McDougle(the Green's; Cornelius and Jamaal) could here their names called in the late rounds. Neither Wilfolk nor Joseph are having the lights out season many expected and McDougle was hurt early in the year. For his part Andrew Williams is making a big rush up charts and could surprise on draft day with good workouts in March. Tennessee's offensive line is up to the task and though not the athlete's of their counterparts, a tough and intelligent group of blockers. Will Ofenheusle is a powerful tackle best suited for the right side and a lineman with a great feel for his position. A late first day selection is in the offing for Ofenheusle. Likewise Anthony Herrera overpowers opponents at guard and displays a lot of strength blocking for the run. A thick and sturdy lineman, Herrera falls into the middle frames if the Prop-48 prospect decides to opt for the draft in April. The strength of the line could be their underclassmen; sophomore Jason Respert is one of the nations most dominant guards, Scott Wells is effective on the pivot and when healthy Michael Munoz does a terrific job at tackle.

Flipping the sides around one sees talent, though not as dominant. Miami's seniors are late round picks while developing underclassmen seemingly have a bright future. Sherko Haji-Rasouli plays with greatMoore,-Rahsard fundamentals, intelligence and intensity but prior injuries and limited athleticism will knock him late into the draft. Still, he could quickly turn into an inexpensive starter at the next level. Brett Romberg, one of college football's most efficient centers, lacks bulk and size but work ethic coupled with a feel for the pivot will place him on a roster next September. Underclassmen tackles Vernon Carey and Carlos Joseph will be very early draft selections in the future. The Volunteer defensive front are a bunch of "no names" with talent for the next level could help prove it by stopping Willis McGahee; possibly the number one running back available next April if he declares for the draft. Rashad Moore is a solid thumper in the middle that stuffs the run and also displays the skill to rush the passer. Baring catastrophe Moore is a top 75 choice. Versatile Demetrin Veal and pass rusher Omari Hand will be given late round consideration while Edward Kendrick could surprise with good post season performances. Kendrick, who sat out last year due to academics, is a talented lineman that needs to kick it into gear and play to his potential.

Miami's Run-Defense: Look to the Linebackers

For all its' success and talent Miami's run defense is not good, in fact it presently ranks in the bottom half of the Big East immediately below Temple. Much has to do with a lack of size up front while the other portion of goes to the "kill the quarterback" mentality at the risk of ball carriers getting through the line. And for all their problems UT hasDJ Williams consistently proven one thing; they can run the football. Either with one feature ball carrier or running back by committee, the Vols get the job done on the ground and this season has been no different. It will be up to a group of talented linebackers to shut down the Vol ground attack, a crop of middle line defenders with good potential for the next level. From the neck down DJ Williams has the physical skills to be a big time player in the NFL as well as an early draft pick. Unfortunately the mental part of the game has been a little slow in coming, though he's made improvements. One Miami coach told us Williams did not have much of a clue on the field last season and did a lot of running around but greatly improved the quickness in which he recognizes his assignments in 2002. The word is Williams will stay at least one more year with the Hurricanes; let's hope he's a man of his word. Jonathan Vilma is not quite as athletically gifted but has the mental portion of the game down pat. He reminds us of a lesser Nate Webster; around the action often though not nearly as explosive.

Can Clausen handle the rush

Tennessee's Casey Clausen has been nicked this season and now the quarterback faces his toughest test of the season Saturday. For all its' woes against the run Miami is relentless and usually successful in pursuing opposing signal callers. Clausen could be a sitting duck in the pocket and with Kelly Washington not playing, the quality of targets available to him reduces dramatically. This is where Jason Witten comes into play. Rated as our number one tight end, Witten is a complete player at his position excelling as both a blocker and pass catcher.  We expect the big tight end to be active in both aspects throughout the game. Can Witten help slow down the Hurricane pass rush blocking up front? Does he catch a lot of passes against athletic linebackers? Should be interesting to watch.

What is the Word on Kelly Washington?

Right now….mum. There have been lots of speculation and reports pointing to his concussion being more than a small headache but rather whiplash that may end his career. We've even been told there's more and external factors are part of the reason why Washington's not on the field. At this point we'll just sit tight, hope for the best for Washington and report the news when we hear something solid.

Dorsey to Johnson: Get used to it

In many ways this is a big game for Ken Dorsey; his Heisman chances and in part, draft ranking. ShouldRashad Baker Dorsey be able to pull

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