Hurricanes weary of upset-minded Temple Owls
Another week brought another win for the Hurricanes, as they took Tallahassee by storm and handed FSU their first loss of the season last Saturday. But this week brings a new challenge of avoiding a let down against a weak Temple team who has never beaten UM in Big East play.
Temple brought an influx of junior college players to their team this past recruiting season in the hopes of improving dramatically before they get released from the Big East due to poor performance and attendance. The move has failed to produce many wins so far, as Temple stands at 1-5 on the season. Two of those losses, however, went into multiple overtimes and they have only suffered one blowout loss.
Despite Temple’s anemic record, Head Coach Larry Coker knows that his team cannot let their guard down.
“They’re in the process of finding themselves. We’ve had some very tough games with Temple,” Coker said. “They’re tough players and well coached and that’s what we expect in the Orange Bowl on Saturday. If we expect any less than that we’re not a smart group.”
Miami looks ripe for a letdown considering the importance of last week’s win and the fact that undefeated Virginia Tech looms ominously on the horizon. However, a Hurricanes letdown might not help Temple enough to win this game. Either way the team insists they will prepare for this game like they would against a top caliber team.
“We’re in our own playoff season. Every game counts for us. If we lose it’s not a big chance that we’ll end up in the championship game being that it’s so late in the season,” wide receiver Kevin Beard said. “Right now we’re approaching it like Temple is the number one team in the nation.”
Even though the ‘Canes enter the second half of the season as one of three undefeated BCS teams in the country, along with Oklahoma and Virginia Tech, they still have some worries.
The Hurricanes lead the Big East in turnovers and Brock Berlin has thrown 10 interceptions compared to only seven touchdown passes. Despite Berlin’s inability to find the end zone, Coker thinks his quarterback has made good progress so far this season.
“He’s very confident,” Coker said. “He’s made some bad decisions, [but it’s] not all his fault.”
Another weakness that the ‘Canes have shown this season is their inability to get touchdowns in the red zone. Kicker Jon Peattie has hit eight of his nine field goal attempts in the last two games, but the offense has just two touchdowns in that span.
“The one thing [is that] we don’t run the ball as well as we have. That’s the big theme,” Coker said. “Jarrett coming in, you like what you see with him. People that are really good in red zone offense have to be able to run the football.”
Running backs and special teams coach Don Soldinger disagrees that the lack of a rushing game has kept the ‘Canes out of the end zone.
“It’s a problem of not getting the ball in the end zone but that’s not just running. It’s catching, receiving, penalties,” Soldinger said. “I don’t think it’s just the running; it’s a lot of things.”
The ‘Canes also have a couple key players who will most likely miss this weekend’s game.
Safety Sean Taylor, who had two interceptions and a touchdown on the way to earning Big East Defensive Player of the Week Honors against FSU, had minor shoulder surgery to remove floating particles and will not play this weekend. Another player who will miss this Saturday’s game is wide receiver/punt returner Roscoe Parrish, who spent two days in the hospital after taking a vicious hit from FSU safety Stanford Samuels.
Maurice Sikes will return from injury to play strong safety and Greg Threat, who started for Sikes in last week’s game, will play Taylor’s free safety position. Antrel Rolle will return punts in place of Parrish.
Nate Johnson can be reached at NPJ44@aol.com