© St. Petersburg Times, published October 30, 2002
CORAL GABLES -- Miami center Brett Romberg is known for talking -- to opponents, teammates and reporters. He was more vocal than usual Tuesday. He was downright critical of the top-ranked Hurricanes.
And he wasn't alone.
Even though the defending national champions have won 29 consecutive games and have beaten teams by an average score of 43-17 this season, the Hurricanes (7-0) acknowledged they have plenty of problems -- on and off the field.
"Some of the guys are just sitting back, letting their helmet and shoulder pads sit on the field and hoping we win football games," Romberg said. "It's not going to get done if we keep playing like that. We have to realize that now, and if we don't, it will be too late."
Guard Sherko Haji-Rasouli echoed Romberg's sentiments.
"Last year's team was a little bit more hungry at this point in the season and a little bit more worried about losing and not as nonchalant about some things," he said. "This team has to build up that hunger if we want to keep winning and go to the Fiesta Bowl."
Nearly 50 players on Miami's roster haven't lost since setting foot on campus. Another 17 haven't lost since early in the 2000 season.
Romberg and Haji-Rasouli said the problems -- which include not spending enough time in the weight room or the video room -- are mostly with younger players. But freshman tight end Eric Winston said he didn't think it's a problem with his classmates.
"We've talked about a sense of urgency, but I think it all comes down to the leadership," he said. "Someone's got to pick it up. Someone has to say, 'We've got to score every time we get the ball.' I don't think the younger guys can do that. I really think it comes down to (the seniors)."
CENTRAL FLORIDA: The team held a 2 1/2-hour practice in full pads in preparation for Saturday's game against Syracuse at the Citrus Bowl.
"It is great to have a team the caliber of Syracuse come to our place," senior defensive tackle Larry Brown said. "I have been here three years and played against some big teams, but it always seems like we are in someone else's backyard. It is going to be big for us to have our home fans behind us."
Syracuse's complex offense, which features lots of motion, formation changes and multiple sets, will be the focus of the Central defense.
"We can't pay too much attention to all of that," Brown said. "The coaches have a great game plan put together, so we need to do what they tell us to do and be where they want us to be. We have to execute our assignments."
Saturday's kickoff is 7 p.m. and will be televised on Sunshine Network.
HOFSTRA: Player Peter Martocci posted $100,000 bond following his arrest on charges he raped and sodomized a female student on a campus athletic field. Martocci pleaded innocent Monday, his lawyer, Bruce Eiber, said.
Martocci, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound offensive lineman, was automatically suspended from the team because he was charged with a felony, Hofstra spokesman Michael DeLuise said. If convicted, the 19-year-old player could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.
NEBRASKA: Prosecutors will refile assault charges against player Tamotu "Junior" Tagoa'i for failing to comply with his diversion program. Tagoa'i was accused of hitting his girlfriend in the jaw Oct. 23, 2001.
Among the unmet requirements cited were failure to verify completion of 30 community service hours and a mandatory domestic violence prevention course, authorities said.
OHIO STATE: Freshman tailback Maurice Clarett is probable for Saturday's home game against Minnesota.
Coach Jim Tressel said Clarett will be held out of contact drills in practice, adding that it's not the time of year when players take much pounding.
Without Clarett, OSU did not score an offensive touchdown in a 13-7 victory over Penn State.
TENNESSEE: Receiver Kelley Washington could miss Saturday's game against South Carolina.
Washington is still being evaluated after sustaining a concussion Oct. 12.