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UM Keys to Victory

BOB HARIG
Published September 6, 2003

UM wins if it ...

PROTECTS BERLIN: It seems basic enough, but protecting the quarterback has been a huge reason for UM's recent success. And with his former Florida teammates dying to tee off on him, Brock Berlin will be a big target in the backfield. The Hurricanes are going through a transition on the offensive line, and injured tackle Carlos Joseph is not expected to play. That means three new starters on that unit.

GIVES IT TO GORE: Last year Willis McGahee rushed for 204 yards against the Gators, a coming-out party for the man who replaced the injured Frank Gore. Now Gore is back and many believe he can be just as good. He rushed for 118 yards in the opener and is fast and elusive. There is not much depth, however. Jarrett Payton is not the same runner.

AVOIDS TURNOVERS: The Hurricanes learned the hard way against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl that turning the ball over can be devastating. Five turnovers against the Buckeyes was the big difference, and that sort of thing could keep the Gators in the game. Berlin had several misfires against Louisiana Tech, and his receivers dropped some passes.

PRESSURES FLORIDA'S QUARTERBACKS: UM tackle Vince Wilfork played 12 games last year but didn't make his first start until the opener this year. He had three tackles and a sack in last year's game against Florida but will go against a veteran offensive line, including Shannon Snell, who called out Berlin this week. With one of the best secondaries in the country, UM could have a big night defensively if UF quarterbacks Ingle Martin and Chris Lead do not have time to throw.

STARTS FAST: The Orange Bowl, especially at night, is one of the great atmospheres in college football. And the rowdier it gets, the harder it is for the opposition. The Hurricanes have won 22 in a row at home, dating to 1999 when they were emerging from the depths of probation. They seem to feed off the enthusiasm and should take advantage, especially against a couple of young quarterbacks who never have played in such a situation.

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