Sports

O-Line cannot do the job

After their consistent success in developing one of the country’s best rushing attacks, as well as its rock-solid protection of Ken Dorsey, the offensive line was perhaps the last position any of the Miami consensuses worried about entering the Fiesta Bowl.
Head coach Larry Coker, however, thought otherwise.
“They’re very good at what they do, and we’re going to have to be patient,” said Coker in the days leading up to the national championship game. “We’re going to not have to get frustrated if we don’t get the big plays.”
The concerns of Coker rang true during the national championship game as Miami’s offensive line was consistently dominated in the Hurricanes 31-24 double overtime loss. The unit, which allowed just 11 sacks in the regular season, surrendered four against the menacing Buckeyes’ defensive line, including one that resulted in a Dorsey fumble.
Dorsey’s two interceptions could also be partially blamed on the offensive line’s inability to consistently handle Ohio State’s blitzes, particularly on the right side, where Will Smith and Kenny Peterson had a field day.
The Buckeyes front four also outmaneuvered Miami’s offensive line in the running game, where the Hurricanes mustered just 65 yards, nearly a third of their average.
“We didn’t protect the quarterback, and we didn’t establish a running game,” offensive line coach Art Kehoe said. “In the end, it all showed. We all have to take blame for that.”
Entering the game, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel pointed to the Hurricanes running game as being the key weapon for their success, and the most important thing for OSU’s defense to shut down. During the first half, it was evident that the Buckeyes spent a considerable amount of time dissecting the Miami’s ground game and were familiar with the various schemes that Coker and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski had implemented throughout the season, as they held McGahee to under 30 yards rushing.
The sophomore tailback would have more success in the second half, as the offensive line improved on its run blocking, giving McGahee more room to maneuver towards the outside.
“[Ohio State] were moving and blitzing every single down like they were trying to stop the run, and they were stopping the pass at the same time,” right guard Chris Myers said. “We did better with the running game in the second half – the first half we just [stunk].”
Individually, the Hurricanes offensive lineman struggled in their matchups as well. In addition to Myers and Carey, seniors Sherko Haji-Rasouli and Brett Romberg had problems as well. Romberg allowed his first career sack to Ohio State’s Tim Anderson, and was in no mood to express much verbal communication after the game.
“Romberg was quiet, very quiet,” lineman Ed Wilkins said. “I’ve never seen him at a loss for words.”
The ‘Canes offensive line also struggled mightily during Miami’s final possession. The Hurricanes could not punch the ball into the end zone on four attempts from the one-yard line. On fourth down, blitzing linebacker Cie Grant broke through the line, getting to Dorsey and causing the UM quarterback to rush a throw from his back foot, which would fall incomplete.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Brett or Sherko, because they gave so much to this program, but they’d be the first ones, myself included, to put the heat on us,” Kehoe said. “We didn’t protect the quarterback and we didn’t establish a running game. We had a chance to put them away at the 1-yard line [twice in overtime]and didn’t get it done.”
The lackluster performance in the Fiesta Bowl does not take away from the offensive line’s growth throughout the season. The trio of Vernon Carey, Chris Myers and Carlos Joseph, none of who had a collegiate start entering the 2002 season, blossomed into more than capable starters. The continued growth of the three will be important with the departure of the ‘Canes two best linemen, Romberg and Haji-Rasouli. For now, junior Joel Rodriguez and senior Joe McGrath are the favorites to fill the open slots.
“If Joel gets a little tougher, and McGrath comes back and goes to work, we’re going to be good next year,” Kehoe said. “But it all starts with the maturity process. If you’re not playing, some guys have a tendency to kind of just sit back, not working as hard as they should be, and that’s what some guys have been doing.”

You can reach Jeremy Marks-Peltz at jmp310@hotmail.com

January 17, 2003

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The land of palm trees, beaches and mojitos gave way to the land of the Liberty Bell, cheesesteaks a ...

The University of Miami on Thursday launched a national search as it begins the difficult task of re ...

It would be hard to blame Avery Huff for rethinking his commitment to the Miami Hurricanes right now ...

The losses keep coming for Miami Hurricanes football and Mark Richt. And this feels like the biggest ...

The University of Miami is losing the architect of one of the nation’s best defenses. UM defensive c ...

Commencement speakers share gems of insight and wisdom as more than 1,000 UM students graduate in tw ...

During a news conference Wednesday, a UM medical team talked about the clinical findings after exami ...

Your one-stop shop for University of Miami fall commencement information. ...

The University of Miami will welcome more than 1,000 new graduates into the UM alumni family during ...

A UM medical team has released the first report of acute symptoms and clinical findings in 25 person ...

Fall graduation ceremonies held Thursday at Watsco Center. ...

The Miami women's basketball team ascended one position in each of the major national polls thi ...

Gerald Willis III added to his postseason awards list, picking up second-team All-America honors fro ...

Following its longest break of the season thus far, the No. 25/23 Miami women's basketball team ...

Miami head women's tennis coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews announced Friday the signing of two players ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.