August 23, 2004 The Big Picture
Miami lost a record six NFL first-round picks in April and has pressing questions at several positions, but don't count the Hurricanes out of the national championship picture. This is the same program, after all, that in recent years replaced Jeremy Shockey with Kellen Winslow, Santana Moss with Andre Johnson and Ed Reed with Sean Taylor. The schedule with an out-of-conference lineup that includes Louisville, Houston and Louisiana Tech is the program's most favorable in years. Big East teams spent 13 mostly unsuccessful seasons chasing Miami. The ACC could find itself doing the same this season.
Miami coaches will be far less patient with quarterback Brock Berlin than they were last season, especially with strong-armed redshirt freshman Kyle Wright waiting in the wings. After a series of poor performances, Berlin finally was benched last year following a 10-3 loss to Tennessee. But the staff lacked confidence in backup Derrick Crudup and chose to go back to Berlin after one start. That probably won't be the case this season.
Done For Me Lately
|1994||7-0 (1)||10-2||Orange Bowl (L)|
|1996||6-1 (1)||9-3||Carquest Bowl (W)|
|1998||5-2 (2)||9-3||MicronPC Bowl (W)|
|1999||6-1 (2)||9-4||Gator Bowl (W)|
|2000||7-0 (1)||11-1||Sugar Bowl (W)|
|2001||7-0 (1)||12-0||Rose Bowl (W)|
|2002||7-0 (1)||12-1||Fiesta Bowl (L)|
|2003||6-1 (1)||11-2||Orange Bowl (W)|
|Big East: 60-10 (.857)|
|Overall: 96-25 (.793)|
Cornerback Antrel Rolle could be the best defensive back ever turned out by Miami. He is the definition of a shut-down corner. The 6-1, 202-pound senior has not allowed a touchdown pass in his last 25 games. As good as Rolle is, he may not be the first Miami player chosen in next April's NFL draft. That distinction could go to junior offensive tackle Eric Winston, who Miami coaches say is better than former UM star Bryant McKinnie, or possibly even junior defensive tackle Orien Harris, who was virtually unblockable in August.
Coming On Strong
There are plenty of new faces in Miami's lineup, including two at linebacker, where Leon Williams will start in the middle, flanked on the weak side by Tavares Gooden. Williams has better physical skills than NFL-bound Jonathan Vilma but has lagged in other areas. Sophomore tailback Tyrone Moss rushed for 511 yards last season and may begin 2004 as the starter. A straight-ahead runner, Moss is a nice compliment to Frank Gore, who is more of a slasher. Freshman receiver Darnell Jenkins won't start, but coaches are expecting him to give the offense some of the big-play capability it lacked last season. Of course, the young player all Miami fans are waiting to see is Wright, although he'll play only if Berlin struggles again.
Cause For Concern?
There is no bigger question mark than at quarterback, where Berlin returns as the starter. He was downright awful at times last season, throwing 17 interceptions and only 12 touchdown passes. Berlin looked better during spring and August practice, but nobody is ready to proclaim him the next great Miami QB. A lack of experienced linebacker depth also is a worry. The three backups are comprised of two redshirt freshmen and a true freshman. There also is no experienced depth at safety.
The Whole Truth
"Last year, there were some times when (Berlin) wasn't really sure, and he had that little bit of indecision. That will kill you as a quarterback. When there's 80,000 people in the stands and however many million watching on TV, and we're playing against Florida State, that's when he's got to prove he can do it."
Miami offensive coordinator Dan Werner
CHART BY: THE MIAMI INSIDER
(11-2, 6-1 Big East)
|48||at Louisiana Tech||9|
|33||at Boston College||14|
|22||at Florida State||14|
|7||at Virginia Tech||31|
|Sept. 6||Florida State (10-3)|
|Sept. 18||Louisiana Tech (5-7)|
|Sept. 23||at Houston (7-6)|
|Oct. 2||at Georgia Tech (7-6)|
|Oct. 14||Louisville (9-4)|
|Oct. 23||at N.C. State (8-5)|
|Oct. 30||at North Carolina (2-10)|
|Nov. 6||Clemson (9-4)|
|Nov. 13||at Virginia (8-5)|
|Nov. 20||at Virginia Tech (8-5)|
|Dec. 4||Wake Forest (5-7)|