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'02 Hurricanes ahead of '01, coach believes

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 7, 2002

MIAMI -- It was a day for defense -- and new faces.

The Miami offense bested the defense 35-16 in the annual CanesFest Game before 14,432 at the Orange Bowl on Saturday.

Although four quarters were played, it wasn't a regular game. One point was awarded for first downs and forcing a three-and-out series.

The offense scored only two touchdowns after seven in two previous scrimmages.

"It's a good foundation," coach Larry Coker said. "I think we're further ahead as a team than we were a year ago. We're a better offensive team than we were a year ago (at this time)."

It was apparent on the first play this isn't the same squad that won the Rose Bowl.

Quarterback Ken Dorsey sent a pass over the middle for tight end Kellen Winslow, who led with 57 receiving yards. But it was broken up by linebacker Rocky McIntosh. Winslow and McIntosh are vying for vacant starting jobs. Neither was more than a footnote last season.

"We made a lot of great strides this year," Dorsey said. "We've got guys right knowing exactly what we want them to do."

While Miami's passing game looked sharp, the running game -- minus the departed Clinton Portis and injured Frank Gore -- struggled against a front that should be among the nation's best in 2002.

The offense managed 60 yards on 57 carries, a 1.1 average.

Dorsey looked sharp, connecting on 6 of 10 passes for 86 yards. He had a 1-yard touchdown to Andre Johnson nullified by a penalty for 12 men on the field. The offense settled for a 23-yard field goal by Todd Sievers, who later made a 51-yarder, the longest of his career.

Backup quarterback Derrick Crudup, who had an excellent spring, was 6-of-11 for 70 yards and threw a 13-yard touchdown to Brandon Sebald after throwing for three scores in last weekend's scrimmage.

He also connected with Roscoe Parrish, who is helping his cause of breaking into a top-four receiver slot, on a 31-yard strike that set up the touchdown. But whenever Miami went to the running game, things grinded to a halt. Starters Jerome McDougle, William Joseph, Jamaal Green and Matt Walters, along with backups John Square, Vince Wilfork and Orien Harris dominated up front.

Miami was without its starting guard tandem of Sherko Haji-Rasouli and Ed Wilkins, giving youngsters such as Joe McGrath, Chris Myers, Joe Fantigrassi and Joel Rodriguez extra playing time.

It was a struggle.

Willis McGahee had 40 yards on 14 carries, but 19 came on one run. Jarrett Payton had 29 yards, and Quadtrine Hill rushed for 22 and scored the day's second touchdown on a 6-yard run late. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma had two sacks, as did Square, who had three last week.

"People are actually trying to make plays," Vilma said. "They're not just going out there saying, "Look, I did my assignment. I did my job, and that's it.'

"We've got people trying to get off blocks. We've got everyone running to the ball, everyone trying to tackle, run the D, doing the right things."

Former Florida quarterback Brock Berlin, who has to sit out the season per NCAA transfer rules, entered in the fourth quarter. He connected on 4 of 5 passes for 50 yards and led Miami to its second touchdown.

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