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  • Sensabaugh not overly impressed with Miami's offense

    Oct. 26, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Gerald Sensabaugh spent most of North Carolina's week off studying tapes of Miami, and he saw the speed, the talent and the big-play capability.

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    He also saw something else.

    "It's probably the most simple offense we've seen," the Tar Heels strong safety said Tuesday. "They're really talented, but they basically run the same play over and over again. In the games I've watched, they've probably run like six plays."

    This is Sensabaugh's first season with North Carolina -- he transferred from Division I-AA East Tennessee State when the school disbanded its program -- so perhaps he can be forgiven for not fully understanding the nuances of "bulletin board material." Still, while he gave the fourth-ranked Hurricanes credit for their skill level, he didn't seem overly concerned with Saturday's game.

    "I have a lot of respect for them, but they can be beaten," Sensabaugh said. "If we go out there and play like we can, we can shut anybody down."

    And what about Miami quarterback Brock Berlin, who has eight touchdown passes in the last two games?

    "He's not the best quarterback, he's all right," Sensabaugh said. "He doesn't really make the type throws he should be able to make. He makes a lot of simple throws, nothing too complicated."

    A printout of Sensabaugh's remarks was passed around following Miami's practice on Tuesday. Most of the Hurricanes seemed more amused than angered.

    "Bulletin board stuff is just that -- for the bulletin board," Hurricanes offensive lineman Chris Myers said. "Once you get on the field, you're not even thinking about what's been said or the media or the rankings."

    Imagine how confident Sensabaugh would be if the Tar Heels (3-4, 2-2 ACC) had actually stopped -- or even slowed down -- an opponent this season. They rank next-to-last in the country in total defense, giving up an average of nearly 504 yards.

    That includes a total of 1,246 yards in their last two games -- a victory over North Carolina State (577) and a loss to No. 9 Utah (669). They're nearly on pace to set a school record for yards allowed for the second straight season, and only Georgia Tech has failed to reach 400 yards of total offense against them.

    The Yellow Jackets got 393.

    "In order to compete with this club, we're going to have to play our best game," North Carolina coach John Bunting said of Miami. "They have a lot of weapons."

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    This is nothing new for the Tar Heels, who have played the toughest schedule in the country according to the computer rankings of Jeff Sagarin, one of the components of the Bowl Championship Series standings.

    Miami will be the fifth ranked opponent for North Carolina in eight games.

    "They're pretty good, those teams we played," Bunting said. "The teams we have lost to have a combined record of 24-3."

    The Hurricanes, in their first season in the ACC, are the only unbeaten team left in the conference. After traveling to N.C. State last week, they're making their first visit to Kenan Stadium since 1963.

    A victory in this one would give Miami its fourth straight 7-0 start.

    "You're not going to be able to compete with Miami week in and week out," Bunting said. "But this is this week."

    The Wolfpack certainly had their chances last week, piling up 299 yards in the first half despite four turnovers. Other teams also have had success moving the ball against the Hurricanes, and North Carolina has the talent to do the same.

    Darian Durant ranks third in the ACC in passing efficiency, and tailback Jacque Lewis averages more than 7 yards a carry. Durant left the game against the Utes with a sprained elbow, but Bunting believes he'll be ready to go Saturday night.

    "I'm excited about playing them," Tar Heels running back Madison Hedge**** said. "If we can be as healthy as we can be, I think we can move the ball really well against them. There hasn't been too many teams this year that we've been shut down by."

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  • DJRamFan
    Georgia Tech hopes to fare better against another ACC newcomer
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 27, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech wants to avoid being embarrassed by another ACC rookie.

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    The Yellow Jackets already lost to Miami, which joined the Atlantic Coast Conference this season. Now, they have a chance to even their mark against the other newcomer, Virginia Tech, in a home game Thursday night.

    For the incumbent schools in this basketball-crazy league, it's a matter of pride. They don't want to look like pushovers against two schools that were brought in specifically to beef up the ACC's football reputation.

    "That's a big part of it," Yellow Jackets center Andy Tidwell-Neal said. "This is Virginia Tech's first year. I'd like to think we're ready to play them. This was a good conference before they got here. We want to show them, just like every other school in the conference."

    So far, Georgia Tech (4-2, 3-2) and the others haven't had much success. No. 4 Miami is unbeaten and leading the conference standings. Virginia Tech (5-2, 2-1) is one of three schools with just one conference loss.

    Earlier this month, the Yellow Jackets were thoroughly outclassed by the Hurricanes, losing 27-3. If they beat the Hokies, they'll take a major step toward their eighth consecutive bowl appearance. The hometown Peach Bowl will have scouts at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

    Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer is understandably concerned about the Yellow Jackets' defense, which is coming off two stellar performances.

    Maryland managed just 81 yards in a 20-7 loss -- the fewest ever allowed by Georgia Tech in an ACC game. Duke didn't do much better, totaling only 184 yards while losing 24-7.

    "They bring a lot of pressure and they disguise it well," Beamer said. "We've got our hands full."

    Likewise for Georgia Tech.

    The Hokies are giving up just 11.6 points per game, including a pair of shutouts. They held their own against top-ranked Southern Cal, losing 24-13 in the season opener, and haven't given up more than 17 points in a game since.

    The only blemish on Virginia Tech's ACC record was a one-point loss to North Carolina State. The Hokies were in position to win, but Brandon Pace missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt as time ran out.

    The Hokies are solid at quarterback with senior Bryan Randall, who holds the school record with 32 consecutive starts. The running game was solidified by the return of diminutive Mike Imoh, who was suspended for the first three games. Only 5-foot-7, he's rushed for 331 yards since getting back on the field.

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    The Yellow Jackets also rely heavily on the running game with P.J. Daniels, who leads the ACC with an average of 105.8 yards per game. For good measure,...
    -10-28-2004, 09:23 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Coach's job, once in question, saved by UNC upset of Miami
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 31, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina coach John Bunting never lost faith in his players, unabashedly supporting them even while their mistakes and poor play led to more losses.

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    Finally, they rewarded him with the type of effort that just might save his job.

    The Tar Heels beat a top-five opponent for the first time, outgaining Miami by 130 yards and dominating time of possession. Surprisingly, they did it without the benefit of a turnover or a sack, a solid 31-28 victory almost no one could have seen coming.

    "I think it's a statement about how hard this team works and how much they care," Bunting said Sunday. "I think it suggests that we have recruited well, and that we have a very resilient team."

    Connor Barth kicked a 42-yard field on the final play Saturday night to give North Carolina its biggest win in years, setting off a wild celebration on the field. Players and fans hugged each other or simply looked around in amazement, while Bunting tried futilely to find Hurricanes coach Larry Coker for a post-game handshake.

    Both goal posts were torn down within minutes of the ball sailing through the uprights, and the only plea from the school was that they be left inside the stadium.

    Sure enough, a couple of hours later, the pieces were piled up just outside the end zone.

    "Dick Baddour said he would be glad to pay for them week in and week out," Bunting said of the Tar Heels' athletic director.

    The Hurricanes were ranked fourth and came into the game as a three-touchdown favorite. Their second trip in as many weeks to Tobacco Road was supposed to be just as easy as the first, when they beat North Carolina State 45-31.

    It didn't work out that way. Third-string Tar Heels tailback Chad Scott rushed for a career-high 175 yards and scored two touchdowns -- including one after leaving briefly with a hip injury -- and Darian Durant was 21-of-29 for 266 yards and two more scores.

    They gained 545 yards -- the most Miami had given up since 2000 -- and drove 65 yards to set up the winning kick.

    "I am very honored as a head coach to be out there with those kids," Bunting said. "I was proud of the way those kids battled and hung in there. And then it comes down to a kick and our young freshman put it through."

    Bunting's status with North Carolina has been the subject of much speculation after he totaled only five victories and several lopsided losses in the past two seasons. Before stunning Miami, they lost 46-16 to Utah while allowing 669 yards.

    Somehow, they rebounded, and now Bunting has North Carolina (4-4, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference ) solidly in the bowl picture. The remaining schedule features...
    -11-01-2004, 09:40 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Utah ready for big finale to breakthrough season
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 31, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    TEMPE, Ariz. -- Utah used an unstoppable offense to break through the walls surrounding college football's big bowls.

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    Now the unbeaten Utes are expected to do more than merely win the Fiesta Bowl. They are supposed to win big over Big East champion Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

    That's heady stuff for the Mountain West Conference champs, who will bring a large chunk of Salt Lake City's population with them for the game at Sun Devil Stadium.

    "This has been pretty dreamlike," quarterback Alex Smith said. "This has been a goal of ours since January, and to finally reach it, it's pretty surreal. I'm just trying to take it all in and not let it go by too fast."

    Coach Urban Meyer, who brought about Utah's improbable climb to national prominence, will coach his final game for the Utes, sharing duties with his successor, defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham.

    After two years at Bowling Green and two at Utah, Meyer is bound for Florida. He leaves behind a Utah program that represents the hopes of every school outside the six conferences that make up the Bowl Championship Series.

    The Utes (11-0) are the first non-BCS team to make it to one of the four elite bowls - automatically qualifying by finishing sixth in the BCS rankings.

    They did it with an offense that averaged more than 500 yards and 45 points per game. On 60 trips inside an opponent's 20-yard line, the Utes scored touchdowns 85 percent of the time. Utah scored fewer than 40 points in a game only twice.

    Meyer's explanation of his offense is simple.

    "It's a personnel-based offense," he said. "Spread the field, and let the good players touch the ball."

    Smith, fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting, is the best of those players.

    Second in the country in passing efficiency, the junior from La Mesa, Calif., completed 66 percent of his passes this season for 2,624 yards and 28 touchdowns, with just four interceptions. He also ran for 563 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

    "They have an extraordinary player at quarterback," Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris said. "He's not only a good runner -- runs the option well -- he's also an outstanding passer. I think the other quality that separates him from most quarterbacks is he's tough as nails. He's the guy that makes it go."

    Smith, who might enter the NFL draft after this season, said there is no more enjoyable offense to run than the one Meyer has developed.

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    "We give a ton of different looks," the QB said. "It's pretty amazing when you can run the option and the spread from the same formation."...
    -12-31-2004, 02:56 PM
  • DJRamFan
    I-AA No. 1 Southern Illinois Tries to Stop Upset Bug
    by DJRamFan
    Salukis bring balanced offense on the road.

    Sept. 23, 2004

    By Scott Mees
    www.SIUSalukis.com

    CARBONDALE, Ill.- The Southern Illinois University football team returns to Delaware on Saturday.

    No, not to face the team that dominated it in the first round of last season's Division I-AA playoffs -- that rematch could happen later this year.

    This time, the top-ranked Salukis will take on the Delaware State Hornets at Alumni Stadium in Dover, Del., at noon (central time).

    "We're going on the East Coast to a place we haven't played," said SIU head coach Jerry Kill.

    SIU (2-1) is coming off a lopsided 59-9 victory over William Penn, in which most of its starters were on the bench by halftime.

    The Hornets (0-3), on the other hand, have a record of 1-13 since the beginning of the 2003 season. Delaware State was picked to finish last in both Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference 2004 preseason polls.

    Nevertheless, Kill is not underestimating his team's opponent, or the environment it may face.

    "You never know what's going to happen," Kill said. "You've just got to be prepared."

    Kill referred to (then No. 15) Western Illinois' loss at Hampton last weekend as a prime example.

    "It could rain," Kill said. "There are too many things you can't control in football."

    Running back Terry Jackson's playing status was still questionable as of Tuesday evening.

    "Terry practiced today," Kill said. "I don't know if he'll play or not, but he seems to be better."

    The Saluki head coach is pleased with all aspects of how his offense is performing.

    "We are about as balanced as we've ever been, since I've been here," Kill said.

    Kill added that he is happy with the efficiency of the passing game.

    "We're throwing the ball equally, as well as running it," Kill said. "We're throwing the ball very well."

    Through three games, SIU quarterback Joel Sambursky is 37-for-55 passing the ball. The junior has thrown four touchdowns and just one interception. Brent Little leads the team in receptions with 10 for 181 yards. Quorey Payne has five catches, but averages a whopping 29 yards per reception.

    The Saluki backfield continues to get more crowded as freshman Craig Turner is now in the mix. Turner -- in his debut -- led the Salukis with 93 yards rushing in the William Penn game. Arkee Whitlock added 89 yards, and Brandon Jacobs chipped in with 63.

    Freshman wide receiver Phil Goforth remains a couple of weeks away from playing, according to Kill.

    As far as a plan of attack goes, Kill said the Salukis would take what the defense gives them.

    "Hopefully,...
    -09-23-2004, 12:12 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Purdue, Michigan headed in opposite directions
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 25, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Just over two weeks ago, Purdue was undefeated and looked to be shifting the balance of power in the Big Ten.

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    Wisconsin and Michigan had other ideas.

    The Boilermakers had Bowl Championship Series aspirations heading into their two-game homestand against the Badgers and Wolverines, but those hopes were dashed after two losses by a combined five points.

    Purdue (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) has slipped from No. 5 in the AP Top 25 to No. 17 and now is left looking for answers.

    "Things haven't really gone our way lately," running back Brandon Jones said. "We've made a couple key mistakes in key situations. We just have to look past that and bounce back as a team."

    The Boilermakers lost 16-14 on Saturday to streaking Michigan (7-1, 5-0). The Wolverines have won six in a row and every week look more like the most complete team in the Big Ten.

    Michigan kept pace with Wisconsin as the only teams with perfect conference records.

    The Wolverines' two freshmen -- quarterback Chad Henne and running back Michael Hart -- have led the way, improving with each game.

    Hart has been sensational the last two weeks, running for 234 yards against Illinois and 206 against Purdue. And he's benefiting from the considerable talent around him that has come together after an early season loss to Notre Dame.

    "I think Michael Hart has a good offensive line in front of him, he's got good receivers that will block well, and he's got coaches that always seem to design a way to get him the football," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "He's a special kid."

    Purdue's defense would find it hard to argue after being carved up by the teenager.

    "He's a freshman, but that boy has three more years of dominating," Purdue safety Bernard Pollard said. "He's a very good back."

    And the kind of player that always seems to choose Michigan over Purdue.

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    In his eighth season at Purdue, coach Joe Tiller has helped the once-moribund Boilermakers move into the upper echelon of the conference. But after being pushed around by the bigger, stronger, faster Wolverines for the fourth consecutive time, it's clear he still has some work to do.

    "All we need is to be able to recruit everybody two inches taller than (the Boilermakers) are today, 25 pounds heavier than they are today and two or three-tenths of a second faster than they are today," Tiller said. "All of those guys happened to be on the other sideline. So we will continue in our system, and our guys playing their tails off. Given the ability they have, we'll continue to fight the good fight."...
    -10-25-2004, 06:03 AM
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