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Owls present 'Canes their last breather

By MICHAEL SNYDER

© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 3, 2001


CORAL GABLES -- There's no gentle way to put it. No fancy words to disguise the facts.

There's really nothing to get excited about in top-ranked Miami's game against Temple at noon today at the Orange Bowl -- well, unless you're quarterback Ken Dorsey.

The 'Canes are 6-0 and have national championship dreams, and the Owls (2-5) are doing what they seem to do every season -- playing out the string. But sometime this afternoon Dorsey could throw the 49th touchdown of his Miami career. With it, Dorsey will put his name at the top of a storied list of UM quarterbacks as the all-time leader in scoring passes.

He tied the record with the second of two TD passes Oct. 25 in a 45-3 win against West Virginia. Not bad for someone who had to sit as a freshman while Kenny Kelly toyed with the idea of being a college quarterback before opting for baseball with the Rays.

Steve Walsh and Vinny Testaverde each had 48 touchdowns at UM. Gino Torretta is next with 47.

Dorsey was the fastest to reach 48, needing 22 games. Walsh needed 24 games and Testaverde 29.

"I could have never imagined this," Dorsey said. "I'm still not where I want to be. The records I've got are kind of the window-dressing records. Those are the ones that look good and impress girls. The one I want is the completion record, the one no one really cares about."

Dorsey might find companionship with the touchdown record, but he would rather join Testaverde and Torretta in the Heisman winners club.

If he keeps up his pace, it's a possibility.

Dorsey has completed 100 of 168 passes for 1,607 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. His veteran offensive line, led by tackles Joaquin Gonzalez and Bryant McKinnie, has kept his uniform so clean it barely needs washing.

Still, Dorsey isn't thrilled with his play -- far from it. He said he has done a "horrible" job managing the ball.

Last season, Dorsey went 177 passes -- a school record -- without an interception. It would be safe to say interceptions gall him. "I want to get back to not throwing interceptions, and hopefully rebreaking that record," he said.

The Temple game usually is a good place to find redemption and pad statistics. Miami has won every meeting -- except the first in 1930 -- by an average score of 46-11.

The Hurricanes might be without key players, including defensive end Andrew Williams (sprained knee) and tailback Willis McGahee (sprained knee). It's the last "gimme" game for UM before playing Boston College (6-2), Syracuse (7-2), Washington (6-1) and Virginia Tech (6-1) to close the regular season.

"I think we're ready," coach Larry Coker said. "We've got some people banged up, but the attitude of the team is good and we've had a solid week of practice."

Dorsey's performances in those games will affect his chances for the Heisman. He has professed his intention to return for his senior season.

Despite the attention, Dorsey's demeanor hasn't changed since he arrived on campus as a scrawny teenager with a powerful arm, a gee-whiz persona and a load of confidence.

"The people who have played here -- Steve Walsh, Testaverde, Torretta -- those guys are heroes, they're icons, they're Hall of Fame type players," Coker said. "I don't think he sees himself as one of those guys. Ten years from now as he looks back at it, he'll see he (was) one of the great ones to play here."

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