The tight end often says he's open. QB Ken Dorsey believes him at just the right time.
|[Times photo: Joseph Garnett Jr.
Jeremy Shockey celebrates his game-winning touchdown catch.
By JOE FRISARO
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 8, 2000
MIAMI -- Four plays into the first quarter, Miami's Jeremy Shockey thought his season might be over. But in the closing seconds Saturday, it was the sophomore tight end's dramatic touchdown that has kept the Hurricanes' national championship hopes alive.
Shockey's 13-yard scoring catch with 51 seconds left lifted No. 7 Miami to a 27-24 victory over top-ranked Florida State at the Orange Bowl.
In crunch time, quarterback Ken Dorsey turned to the most unlikely player in the stadium to pull in the most significant touchdown in Butch Davis' six season as Hurricanes coach.
|Times college football site|
That Shockey was even in the lineup in the second half was a surprise. The 6-foot-6, 245-pounder buckled his right knee on the opening drive. He spent the rest of the first half being evaluated by team doctors.
"I thought I tore something," said Shockey, who had the knee packed in ice afterward.
Instead, he strained the MCL. At halftime, Shockey told the coaches he was able to go in the second half. On a scorching afternoon (84 degrees with 76 percent humidity), Miami needed the depth.
It was shocking that the Hurricanes went to Shockey so often in the game-winning drive. All three of his catches came during that series, during which he also had catches of 5 and 6 yards.
With FSU focusing on receivers Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne, Shockey became a primary weapon.
"Shockey kept telling me, he's open," said Dorsey, who drove the Hurricanes 68 yards on seven plays in 51 seconds. "This time, I listened to him."
In a lineup filled with playmakers, the sophomore must speak up for himself. It has been a running joke with Dorsey all season.
"I always tell Kenny I'm open because he throws the ball to guys like Reggie and Santana and the other people we have," Shockey said. "But I'm not always open. I didn't think Kenny was going to throw to me until I looked up and saw the ball."
Of all the options, Dorsey liked the matchup of Shockey being covered by linebacker Brian Allen down the middle of the field.
"I thought I had a better shot with the tight end," Dorsey said.
If Dorsey looked Moss' way, the All-American candidate felt he was open, too.
"To tell you the truth, I came open on the outside," said Moss, who opened the decisive drive with a 13-yard catch to the Hurricanes' 45. "But Kenny went to the tight end. Touchdown!"
Moss, slowed by a sore right ankle, had his best receiving game of the season: Seven catches for 115 yards. The senior All-America candidate had a long catch of 42 yards. Moss' 19-yard catch gave Miami first-and-goal at the FSU 8. After a timeout and a false start penalty, Dorsey hooked up with Shockey for the winning touchdown.
Before their final drive, Moss received a pep talk from Michael Irvin, one of the many former Hurricanes on the sideline.
"Michael Irvin came up to me and told me this is what makes bread-and-butter players," Moss said. "He told me I've got to make some big plays."
On the field after the game, Irvin said: "I told Santana if he wants to be a great player, this was his time to step up."
Moss praised Dorsey's composure in the final drive.
"You've got to realize, Kenny is a young dude who seems like he's been here a while, because he's played so much," Moss said. "He knows he's got guys around him who will help him. The pressure isn't just on him. We've got some playmakers on this team."
None more surprising than Jeremy Shockey.
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