Full Steam Ahead

The Miami Hurricanes (7-1) will look to keep rolling this Saturday when they travel to Wake Forest (4-6) for the first time since 1971.

The Hurricanes have won seven in a row, including its biggest win of the year last week, defeating then-No. 3 Virginia Tech 27-7 on the road.

When the Demon Deacons visited the Orange Bowl last year, it was Brock Berlin who threw all over a weak defense and led Miami to a 52-7 win. This year, Wake Forest has a younger defense that is allowing 373 yards per game. Miami quarterback Kyle Wright will look to add to his touchdown total of 11 touchdowns.

With starting running back Tyrone Moss out for the season with a torn ACL, sophomore Charlie Jones will be thrown into the job. But it isn’t like this will be his first experience. He came in for an injured Moss at Virginia Tech and ran for 97 yards and a touchdown.

As for the defense, there’s not much more that can be said, other than the fact that the numbers don’t lie. The squad is No. 1 in total defense (214.75 yards/game), pass defense (117.38 yards/game) and pass efficiency defense (73.09). Last week, the defense made a one-time Heisman Trophy candidate, Marcus Vick, turn the ball over six times, including four fumbles and two interceptions.

The Miami defense has allowed only one score in five of the last six games and outscored its opponents 197-43 during that period.

This week, the defense will have to deal with a strong Wake Forest offense, especially on the ground. The Demon Deacons are averaging 204 rushing yards a game and are led by senior running back Chris Barclay. He has gained 1,022 yards and scored nine touchdowns on the season. Last year at Miami, Barclay ran for only 57 yards and a touchdown.

Playing in its final game of 2005, Wake has beaten East Carolina, Clemson, N.C. State and Duke this season and is primed for an upset on senior day in Winston Salem, N.C. Quarterback Cory Randolph will be making his final appearance in a Wake Forest uniform. Randolph has thrown five touchdowns but is only averaging 88 yards per game. Benjamin Mauk has also gotten some time under center; the redshirt sophomore has thrown for 132.5 yards a game but has thrown five interceptions and only one touchdown.

This game was originally scheduled for Nov. 17, but Hurricane Wilma forced it to be moved up five days to Saturday afternoon at 3:30 on ABC. With this week originally scheduled to be an off-week, the coaching staff made plans for NFL scouts to come in and take a look at the team. About 50 scouts still came this week, and Head Coach Larry Coker didn’t mind one bit.

“I think the timing is pretty good,” Coker said. “They had a chance to view some film and we make this pretty open for them and for our players. I think it’s a pretty good motivator. It would motivate me if I’m trying to be an NFL player. If a guy is looking at me and taking notes, I’m probably going to try to do something.”

Douglas C. Kroll can be contacted at d.kroll@umiami.edu.