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UM waits out rain, Rutgers

The 'Canes tune up for next week's game vs. Washington, pounding the Scarlet Knights 61-0 in UM's Big East opener.

By MICHAEL SNYDER

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 9, 2001


College Football 2000 Preview
[AP photo]
Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey looks for an open receiver in the first half against Rutgers.
MIAMI -- No one has figured out what it will take to beat Miami yet.

Trickery certainly won't though -- and neither has Rutgers.

The No. 1-ranked Hurricanes routed the Scarlet Knights 61-0 on a rainy Saturday before 39,804 in the home opener at the Orange Bowl.

The inclement weather delayed the start by 45 minutes, though the Knights likely would have preferred a cancellation.

The win, Miami's ninth straight in the Big East series, sets up a matchup of ranked teams in the Orange Bowl at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday against No. 15 Washington, which beat Michigan Saturday.

UM has scored at least 51 points in the past five meetings against Rutgers. The new Scarlet Knights coach, Greg Schiano, who spent the past two years as UM's defensive coordinator, was quite aware of the difference in talent on the opposite sidelines.

He tried unusual formations -- like using four receivers on one side and later having the line stacked to the left, while quarterback Ryan Cubit was snapped the ball alone on the right.

"(Schiano) tried to fake us, to get us off-balance with tricks," UM linebacker Howard Clark said.

Kind of a waste of effort.

"It's probably an understatement ... the best team won the game," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "I feel bad for Greg because the game got out of hand."

Miami led 27-0 at the half. The 'Canes piled up 542 yards of offense in the game, while Rutgers had 126. Miami recovered five of eight fumbles.

Miami improved to 11-3 in Big East openers. The 'Canes are 77-7 against unranked foes since 1990.

Quarterback Ken Dorsey completed 14 of 25 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns, 40 yards to Andre Johnson and 3 yards to Jeremy Shockey. Najeh Davenport and Clinton Portis also scored on 3-yard runs. Todd Sievers converted field goals of 24 and 40 yards.

In the second half, UM notched touchdowns on special teams and defense.

Phillip Buchanon, doing his best Santana Moss impersonation, had a 56-yard punt return for a touchdown and freshman defensive end John Square returned a fumble for a score. Freshman Frank Gore, who was the leading rusher with 78 yards on six carries, added a 10-yard scoring run, and Jarrett Payton had a rushing score in the fourth quarter.

Shockey again was Dorsey's favorite target, with four catches for 79 yards, while Johnson had two catches for 104 yards.

Senior cornerback Markese Fitzgerald of Dixie Hollins caused two fumbles in the second half.

Linebacker Chris Campbell also caused a fumble, recovered by Ed Reed, which led to the first touchdown of the game. James Lewis had an interception and Jonathan Vilma caused and recovered a fumble.

"They are an extraordinary football team," Schiano said. "We went out and played as hard as we could."

UM could have made the score much worse.

"We haven't clicked on all cylinders yet," Dorsey said. "Next week is a very important game, and if we don't come out on all cylinders, it will be a long day."

There were certainly things for Coker to be concerned about.

Payton and Shockey dropped sure touchdowns. Dorsey overthrew Johnson for what likely would have been another score. Sievers missed a field goal from 34 yards. Of course, the rain might have had something to do with a few of those plays.

Perhaps more alarming was UM's penchant for picking up penalties -- costly ones. Twice in the first quarter offensive linemen -- Sherko Haji-Rasouli and Martin Bibla -- committed personal fouls.

Miami also lost top offensive tackle Joaquin Gonzalez and backup tailback Willis McGahee to right shoulder sprains.

Gonzalez, a senior, was injured in the first quarter on an 11-yard run by Portis. He was replaced by sophomore Vernon Carey.

But the overriding theme of the game came late in the first half when Miami's Carl Walker blindsided Rutgers' Nathan Jones on a kickoff return. It was a statement-making bonecruncher.

And the Hurricanes are making a statement about how difficult it's going to be to defeat them.

"We had a lot to play for," Coker said. "We needed to be 2-0. We've got a big game coming up. ... that's the type of game you love to play in."

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