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Defense stalls again against run

© St. Petersburg Times
published October 28, 2002

CORAL GABLES -- One week can be chalked up to a fluke, but two?

Two likely isn't an aberration, though the Hurricanes say it's not a trend either. But others may wonder.

For the second straight game, top-ranked Miami's vaunted defense looked more like Swiss cheese when stopping the run. Two weeks after Florida State's Greg Jones ran over the 'Canes for 189 yards, West Virginia's Avon Cobourne did the same. Cobourne, the Big East career rushing leader, carried 26 times -- mostly into the heart of the defensive line -- for 175 yards and a touchdown.

He wasn't alone as backup tailback Quincy Wilson added 67 yards on 14 carries and a TD, and quarterback Rasheed Marshall had 21 rushes for 93 yards and a TD. Miami (7-0, 3-0) won its program-tying 29th straight 40-23, but there is little doubt teams have learned that the best way to beat the 'Canes is to pound the ball at them.

In two games Miami has allowed 659 yards on the ground.

"They're No. 1, but they didn't play like No. 1," said Cobourne, who leads the Big East with 1,177 rushing yards. "If they're No. 1, then we must be No. 2."

Miami plays at Rutgers on Saturday then at Tennessee, and Virginia Tech's tandem of Kevin Jones and Lee Suggs get their chance in the season finale.

"We still think we're the best," said defensive end Andrew Williams, a former Hillsborough High standout. "We come back stronger and harder every week. They (Virginia Tech) probably think they can run on us. When it comes down to Dec. 7, we'll see."

The 'Canes see no cause for worry.

"When we have to stop it, we stop it," tackle Matt Walters said. "When a team rushes the ball (62) times against us, it's because they don't want to throw the ball and go three and out. Obviously, they had some big runs we don't want to give up, so we have to get that fixed. We ain't concerned. We're winning. If they rush for 700 yards and we win, that's good enough for us."

Not quite, coach Larry Coker said. "We knew we had to stop the run and we weren't able to do it."

BOTTOM LINE ON DORSEY: UM senior quarterback Ken Dorsey, who passed for a career-high 422 yards against the Mountaineers, finished with school career records for completions (564), passing yards (8,024) and total offense (7,981) -- passing marks set by Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta. Though many criticize Dorsey, who is 33-1 as a starter, there is nothing average about his accomplishments.

"People are going to say what they want," Dorsey said. "A lot of people may not think I'm a very good quarterback. It's just something I've gotten used to."

Added tight end Kellen Winslow: "People can say what they want about him. The bottom line is he just wins."

IRISH EYE NO. 1: With UM's less-than-impressive win at West Virginia coupled with Notre Dame's domination of Florida State in Tallahassee, Miami is still ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Top 25, but might be behind Oklahoma and Notre Dame in the BCS rankings that are released today.

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