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Miami Football Preview

Junior running back Graig Cooper carries the ball against Virginia last Saturday. Cooper rushed for a career-high 152 yards. Steven Stuts // The Miami Hurricane

Junior running back Graig Cooper carries the ball against Virginia last Saturday. Cooper rushed for a career-high 152 yards. Steven Stuts // The Miami Hurricane

The Hurricanes are looking for a different type of revenge this weekend.

With Head Coach Randy Shannon head-to-head against former Head Coach Butch Davis, now coach for North Carolina, Shannon’s No. 12 Hurricanes (7-2, 4-2) are hoping to finally overcome in their third game against the Tar Heels, against who they remain defeated, in Chapel Hill, N.C, Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Shannon has paid close attention to North Carolina despite their overall 6-3 record and ACC mark of 3-2.

“It’s a rivalry game within our conference,” Shannon said. “Watching North Carolina on tape, their record does not indicate what kind of team this is. They have lost a lot of close games in the last two or three minutes. That team beat Virginia Tech so they are clearly capable of doing great things.”

Davis took over the Hurricanes in 1995 and inherited a program hindered by NCAA sanctions that limited scholarships for his first three seasons. Davis gradually brought the team back to prominence by being 51-20 over six seasons and winning three Big East Conference titles and four bowl games. He has also been known for recruiting the top-tier 2001 Hurricanes national championship team.

Ever since Davis took over North Carolina in 2007, his Tar Heels have always defeated the Canes.

Two years ago at North Carolina, the Canes had to rally from a 27-0 deficit and nearly pulled the comeback until former quarterback Kyle Wright’s four interceptions cost Miami the game.

Last season, Miami had North Carolina in a jam with a 10 point lead until a 74-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks brought the Tar Heels back, eventually winning them the game 28-24 in the final minute.

Shannon and his Hurricanes are seeking their first win ever in Chapel Hill.

“We are playing 0-3 in North Carolina, so our main goal this week is focusing on making that record 1-3,” he said.

Shannon has made it quite clear to his team that North Carolina will not be a slouch in Chapel Hill.

“Coach Shannon has been talking about it a lot this week and telling us how we’re 0-3 up there,” said sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris, who has 19 total touchdowns and leads the ACC in passing efficiency this season. “It’s going to be a tough trip going up there playing against a good defense and good offense and overall a good team.”

The Hurricane offense will be facing one of the best defenses in all of college football. Even Shannon has called the Tar Heels’ defense better than Oklahoma. North Carolina is ranked in the Top 10 nationally in both rush defense (8th) and pass defense (5th).

It will be up to former NFL Coach and Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple to create a scheme for Harris and the offense to be successful.

“Oklahoma was very good, but overall North Carolina is the best that we’re going to see,” Harris said. “It’s going to be a tough challenge and something hard to overcome, but we got to fight through it.”

The Hurricanes will know their own fate in the ACC by the time their game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. No. 7 Georgia Tech plays at Duke at noon. Duke must win in order for Miami to control its own destiny the ACC. A Georgia Tech win would guarantee the Yellow Jackets a ticket to the ACC Championship Game in Tampa Bay.

Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at lledoux@themiamihurricane.com.

November 11, 2009

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Lelan LeDoux

Senior Sports Writer


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