Barbers double trouble for Virginia's opponents

On College Football

November 10, 1995|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Tailback Tiki Barber has become Virginia's best offensive player. Cavaliers cornerback Ronde Barber was the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year last season, and his play hasn't fallen off.

Besides sharing a birth date and an apartment, the Barber twins were two-sport stars at Cave Spring High in Roanoke, and they were half of the 400-meter relay team that took third in the ACC track championships last spring. They are also solid students in Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce.

Request an interview with Tiki and, when it's finished, he hands the telephone to Ronde, who just happens to be passing through Virginia's publicity office. They may be college football's best twin combination since the McKeevers at Southern California in 1960, and is there anything the Barbers don't have in common?

"Let me think," Ronde said. "We've got different girlfriends."

Ronde was more celebrated last year, when he led the ACC and was second in the nation in interceptions as a redshirt freshman. Tiki, who played as a true freshman in 1993, wasn't even the Cavaliers' leading rusher last year, but last week he looked like the best back in the nation who hasn't been mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate.

Virginia's ending Florida State's 29-game ACC win streak was only half the story on ESPN last week. The other was Tiki, who outplayed the Seminoles' Warrick Dunn by a large margin, gaining 193 yards on 31 carries, 45 on three catches and 73 on six punt returns. That's 311 yards total offense.

Tiki has 1,224 yards rushing, one shy of the Virginia single-season record, and he'll surely get that mark tomorrow (noon) at Byrd Stadium, when the Cavaliers (7-3, 6-1) can clinch a share of the ACC title with a victory over Maryland.

Ronde was George Welsh's favorite last year, when the Cavaliers' coach nagged Tiki to bulk up. The Virginia media guide lists Tiki as 5 feet 10 and 180 pounds, but Florida State's linebackers will attest that he's up to 193 now.

"People have told me that I still have an advantage with my speed, but I worried that I had put on too much weight," Tiki said.

Whether it's 180 or 193, it's a load Maryland has to worry about.

Troy who?

Unlike Tiki Barber, Iowa State's Troy Davis hasn't gotten national television recognition, and that's a shame.

With 1,647 yards on 280 carries, Davis is cruising to the national rushing title, and he's on pace to become the fifth major-college player to reach 2,000 yards in a season. The others have been Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen, Mike Rozier and Rashaan Salaam, and all won the Heisman Trophy.

A 5-foot-8, 185-pound sophomore from Miami, Davis was homesick last year, when the Cyclones went 0-10-1 and coach Jim Walden used the triple-option offense.

Walden was fired and in came Wisconsin assistant Dan McCarney and a pro-style offense. Davis gained a school-record 291 yards in the season opener against Ohio University, and has continued to prosper despite defenses that have been stacked to stop him.

It will be more of the same tomorrow, when Davis faces Kansas State, which has the nation's top-rated defense. The seventh-ranked Wildcats are the fourth Iowa State opponent to be ranked in the Top 10.

The last word

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden appreciated the significance of the Seminoles' loss to Virginia, which ended some of the carping over the strength -- or weakness -- of the ACC.

"No. 1, I hated to lose, but our conference needed it," Bowden said. "I don't like to be the sacrificial lamb, but we [the ACC] had gotten lambasted so much. I hate to say it, but I feel it gave our conference more respect. I told our coaches: 'How many times have I told our kids, if we don't play our best, we're gonna get beat?' You say it 29 straight times, nobody believes you, but by golly, it finally happened."

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