Miami offense heats up

Hurricanes' defense one of nation's best, but QB Wright, skill players gain momentum

ACC notebook

October 12, 2005|By GARY LAMBRECHT | GARY LAMBRECHT,SUN REPORTER

Have you heard the joke about the University of Miami's midseason schedule?

As they prepare for a trip to play winless Temple on Saturday, the No. 7 Hurricanes are feeling good about themselves, having just outscored Duke and South Florida by a combined 79-14 in their previous two victories.

All kidding aside, sophomore quarterback Kyle Wright sees Miami - specifically, its youthful offense - growing exponentially, even if it is doing so at the expense of some overmatched opponents.

"No matter who you're playing, whether it's Florida State or Duke or Temple, you want to go out and execute the game plan," Wright said. "With the types of athletes we have, if we do that week in and week out, there's no one that can beat us.

"We've taken some huge strides on offense. We're showing lots of improvement up front with our run blocking and our pass blocking. In the past couple of weeks, I've completed passes to six different receivers. We're starting to get an identity."

At Miami (4-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), the identity typically starts with defense, and 2005 is no different. The Hurricanes, who trail first-place Virginia Tech by a game in the ACC's Coastal Division, returned 10 starters from a unit that ranked 28th a year ago. Through five games this fall, Miami is ranked third in passing defense and total defense, and fifth in scoring defense (11.4 points).

But the offense, which lost six starters, including five at the skill positions, is taking shape.

Wright is averaging 215 passing yards a game. Senior wide-out Sinorice Moss (51.4 ypg, two TDs) and sophomore tight end Greg Olsen (54.8 ypg) lead a receiver corps that is stretching defenses. And junior tailback Tyrone Moss (eight TDs, 90.2 ypg) heads a deep backfield that got stronger with the return of sophomore Andrew Johnson, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament before last year's Peach Bowl victory over Florida.

"Our defense is definitely one of the top one, two or three in the country," Wright said. "But with the amount of playmakers we have, there is definitely a pride thing as an offense."

Rough going for Cavs

Virginia has lost two straight games to take the shine off its 3-0 start, and the Cavaliers are no lock to earn a bowl bid, not with games against Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Miami remaining.

On top of that, Saturday's game against visiting Florida State just got more challenging. Virginia senior offensive tackle Brad Butler has been suspended for the game after he injured Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka with a chop block during a 28-17 loss to the Eagles last week.

A third-year starter, Butler dove helmet-first into the back of Kiwanuka's right knee, which television replays showed came after the whistle. After Kiwanuka hit the ground in obvious pain, his teammate, Al Washington, retaliated by jumping on Butler.

Washington was ejected. Kiwanuka, who is widely viewed as a potential first-round NFL draft pick, later got tossed after taking a swing at Butler, who was not disciplined on the field.

Virginia coach Al Groh and athletic director Craig Littlepage, after reviewing game tape and discussing the matter with Butler, decided to weigh in with a penalty flag of their own.

"Football is the most intense and physical of all games," Groh said in a released statement. "Because it is so, all of us who have the privilege to participate should have the utmost respect for the game itself and for fellow players and coaches. On Saturday, Brad crossed the line in adhering to that standard, and for that he must take accountability."

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

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