tampabay.com

UM goal: break recent two-game slide trend

By SHARON GINN
Published September 16, 2005


Miami hasn't posted a loss in September since falling 34-29 to Washington in the second game of the 2000 season, so there's no blueprint for what comes next for Larry Coker's Hurricanes.

But given recent history, at least, UM may be susceptible to opening the season 0-2.

From 2000-02, Miami lost just twice. But in each of the past two seasons, the Hurricanes followed one loss by immediately losing a second. In 2003 they lost 31-7 to Virginia Tech and then 10-6 to Tennessee. In 2004 it was losses to North Carolina (31-28) and Clemson (24-17).

A week after a sluggish offensive performance and three botched field-goal attempts resulted in a 10-7 loss to Florida State, No. 13 UM (0-1) travels to No. 20 Clemson (2-0) to try to break the pattern - however short-lived - and stay in contention for the ACC title.

"It's a game we need to win, no question," Coker said. "Is it do or die? No. We lost two last year and didn't die until (a third loss to) Virginia Tech."

PAINFUL MEMORIES: Jacksonville native Alvin Wyatt is happy to relive a bit of his childhood as his team heads to Alltel Stadium for the Gateway Classic Saturday. But he isn't particularly keen on reliving what happened last time his Bethune-Cookman team met South Carolina State.

A year ago, the Wildcats (2-0) had won four in a row when South Carolina State (2-0) dashed their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference hopes with a solid 28-14 victory in Orangeburg, S.C. B-CC tried using both quarterbacks, Jarod Rucker and Jimmie Russell, but neither could lead them to a second-half score.

This year, Wyatt has Rucker, Russell and senior Lawrence McCloud at his disposal, but none has impressed him enough to earn the starting job.

"We're just going to go with the one that's fit and ready to go," Wyatt said. "That's how it's going to be."

B-CC receiver Eric Weems was named MEAC offensive player of the week for his play against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Weems, a junior, ran for 60 yards and two touchdowns and had 53 receiving yards in the 31-17 victory.

EMPTY SEATS: Apparently Florida Atlantic either doesn't have enough fans to warrant its move to Division I-A this year, or most of them just decided they'd rather stay home and watch the Owls on TV.

Despite the best marketing efforts of coach/salesman Howard Schnellenberger, FAU drew an announced 16,421 for the Sept. 8 home game against Oklahoma State at 75,000-seat Dolphins Stadium. The Miami Herald said the actual crowd for the game, aired on ESPN2, appeared to be closer to 10,000.

The Owls offense also seemed to be missing; FSU lost 23-3 as quarterback Danny Embick - named Sun Belt offensive player of the week just days before - completed 7 of 16 passes for 91 yards.

MA NATURE 2, JU 0: Every coach has to worry a little about the weather, but Jacksonville coach Steve Gilbert never has had a season like this.

First the Sept. 1 opener at Southeastern Louisiana was canceled because of Hurricane Katrina. Last week the Dolphins were supposed to host Georgia State - a club team that plays a short schedule - but officials called and told JU that they had to cancel because the team's equipment was ruined when its storage location flooded.

Neither game will be rescheduled, meaning the Dolphins will play just eight this season, nine if they make it to the Pioneer League championship game. JU kicks off the season at Charleston Southern Saturday.