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Moss has eyes on the title


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 23, 2000

CORAL GABLES -- Santana Moss' Heisman Trophy hopes may be gone, but his dream of winning a national championship remains intact.

The Hurricanes are legitimate title contenders in part because of Moss. The senior receiver has become the big-play threat Miami banked on in preseason.

Moss had a season-high 241 all-purpose yards in Saturday's 45-17 rout of Temple.

Trailing 3-0, Moss returned a punt 71 yards in the first quarter. His acrobatic 67-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter pushed the lead to 21-10. It was Moss' first touchdown catch of the season.

"He is one of the biggest sparks on this team, if not the biggest," said quarterback Ken Dorsey, who had his school-record streak of pass attempts without an interception snapped at 178. "He came up clutch in a couple of situations."

Miami has won four straight since losing at Washington on Sept. 9.

"This might be the chance to get this team going and get back in the limelight," said Moss, who was bothered by a right ankle sprain early in the season.

Healthy, Moss is taking on a leadership role.

"When you're not 100 percent, maybe in the back of your mind you're thinking about it a little," coach Butch Davis said. "Maybe he was thinking he wasn't getting out of routes as well or had as much separation on coverage as when you're feeling better.

"Santana got our kids excited with the punt return. That ... really changed the game."

DEFENSE RESTS: With tackle Damione Lewis (broken bone in his right foot) and ends Quincy Hipps (ankle) and Jevon Rhodes (left heel) sidelined, UM started its fifth defensive line combination in six games.

Matt Walters finished with five tackles and a sack in place of Lewis, and Cornelius Green, starting for Hipps, added five tackles.

Linebacker Dan Morgan, in the hunt for the Butkus Award, had 11 tackles and one of Miami's six sacks of quarterback Devin Scott. Linebacker Chris Campbell added seven tackles and two sacks.

UM allowed 122 yards rushing on 44 attempts, a 2.8 average. Temple's Tanardo Sharps, the Big East's leading rusher at 113 yards a game, had 37 on 14 carries.

"That's the starting point for every game plan," Davis said. "We talk about not letting the opponent establish the ground game, and everything else takes care of itself."

FRESHMAN MAKES FIRST START: D.J. Williams made his first start in place of senior fullback Will McPartland, who has had four concussions in 15 months. On a 17-yard scoring play in the second quarter, the freshman leaped over the safety for his first touchdown catch, giving Miami a 14-3 lead.

"He's played well, extremely well," Davis said.

Williams, who hasn't spoken much to the media this season, said: "I'm excited for every game."

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