Date with Death Valley

The No. 13 University of Miami Hurricanes (0-1) travel to Clemson, S.C., this weekend to take on the No. 20 Clemson Tigers (2-0). After a bye week, Miami looks to not only avenge its opening week loss to Florida State but last year’s loss to Clemson as well.

The Tigers shocked Miami at the Orange Bowl in 2004. The Hurricanes led 17-3 at halftime, only to lose 24-17 in overtime.

Miami, which leads the all-time series 4-2, will have to deal with one of the toughest venues in the nation on Saturday, as it heads to Death Valley for the first time in school history. The Hurricanes may have to play without starting tailback Tyrone Moss, who is questionable after sustaining leg injuries in Tallahassee.

After one of the sloppiest losses in recent memory two weeks ago, the Hurricanes have no easy task traveling to Clemson. Not only has Clemson won 12 of its last 13 home games, but it is led by an extremely experienced quarterback. Senior Charlie Whitehurst will be making his 32nd start as a Tiger.

Clemson upset Texas A&M in week one and came from behind to beat Maryland on the road last Saturday.

Miami Head Coach Larry Coker feels that Clemson’s defense is eerily similar to that of the Seminoles.

“Their defense is much like Florida State’s,” Coker said. “They are very fast at defensive line, the linebackers are fast and so is the secondary.”

Miami, who will be opening with back-to-back ranked opponents for the first time since 1988, has had an extra week to right the wrongs from the Labor Day loss.

The ‘Canes will get much needed depth on the offensive line when senior Tony Tella returns to playing full-time after nursing an injury for much of the fall.

Miami quarterback Kyle Wright will start for the second time in his young career on Saturday. Although he lost his first collegiate start, Wright showed that with time to throw, he can be dangerous. Wright threw for 232 yards and a touchdown in week one, and will look for his favorite target, tight end Greg Olsen, who had the best performance by a Miami tight end in nearly two decades. Olsen caught eight passes for a total of 137 yards.

Defensively, the Hurricanes rank third in the nation in yards allowed, as they held the Seminoles to just 170 yards of total offense. Defensive tackle Baraka Atkins, who bruised his knee at FSU, was held out of practice much of the week and will be replaced by Kareem Brown in the starting line-up. Safety Anthony Reddick and linebacker Tavares Gooden will not play. Reddick is out for the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL, while Gooden remains out with a shoulder injury.

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Douglas Kroll can be reached at