Miami's mission: stop Larry Fitzgerald

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TheGeneral+

Another Day, Another Dollar
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Mar 1, 2002
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Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle hasn't given up a touchdown since the first game of last season. And the Hurricanes haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver since the 2001 season opener.

Both streaks could be in jeopardy Saturday against college football's top receiver, Pittsburgh's Larry Fitzgerald.

Rolle will be primarily responsibility for covering Fitzgerald, whose 1,569 yards receiving and 21 touchdowns lead the nation. Rolle's assignment could be key in a game that likely will be for the Big East title and a Bowl Championship Series berth.

"It's a huge challenge," said Rolle, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior and Miami's most physical cornerback. "I've watched pretty much all of his games. I've studied him a lot. I know his ins and outs. I know his strengths, and his strength is his hands. You can't let him touch the ball. He has for-sure hands. I think it's going to be a pretty good matchup."

A leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, Fitzgerald has set two NCAA records this season: consecutive games with a touchdown (17) and touchdown receptions in freshman and sophomore seasons (33).

"He's the best receiver in college football. I feel like I'm the best cornerback in college football. You have to like that challenge," Rolle said. "That's what football is about. I don't like going up against average receivers or just OK receivers. You want to go up against the best. That's a way of testing myself."

Fitzgerald, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, caught seven passes for 74 yards and a touchdown against Miami last season. No team has held Fitzgerald to fewer yards in his 13 games since.

In the first quarter of last year's game, Fitzgerald caught a 5-yard pass over corner Kelly Jennings for a score. After that, the Hurricanes covered him near the goal line with 6-foot-3 safety Sean Taylor.

Miami might do the same Saturday, but secondary coach Mark Stoops said Tuesday that Rolle would be singled up on Fitzgerald much of the time.

"If you're always worrying about (Fitzgerald), then you'll vulnerable in other areas," Stoops said. "They're not just a one-man show. They've got other playmakers on their team. So you have to mix it up. It's hard to leave somebody out on him all day, one-on-one with the talent that he has and the big-play capability that he has.

"You have to mix it up and disguise your coverages and move around and try to bang him around a little bit and don't let him get free releases off the line."

The Hurricanes' passing defense has been one of the best in the nation since defensive coordinator Randy Shannon took over in 2001. They led the nation in passing defense in 2001, allowing just five touchdown passes. They ranked second last season, giving up eight touchdown passes.

This season, the 'Canes rank second again -- allowing 139 yards a game -- and have given up six touchdown passes.

They also haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver since Penn State's Bryant Johnson caught six passes for 149 yards and a touchdown in Miami's 33-7 season opening victory in 2001. That's 35 games since a receiver eclipsed the century mark. Florida State's P.K. Sam came the closest, gaining 95 yards on nine catches last month.

The streak includes three games against Florida State, two against Florida and a victory against pass-happy Louisiana Tech.

And one game against Fitzgerald.

Miami coach Larry Coker said he would gladly end the streak for a victory and the Big East title. He also said the defenders have to realize that Fitzgerald is going to make his share of plays.

"If we get cut, we just can't bleed to death," Coker said.

www.sfgate.com
 

sphincter

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Sep 20, 2004
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1,991
they`d better give some thought to brandon miree, also....he came back from injury last week to throw down 188 yards rushing vs temple.....

temple`s not miami....but miree`s absence from the line-up since early in the year has hurt pitt`s offense severely.....now they will be balanced...
 

BigDaddyNole

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Sep 21, 2004
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519
also have to wonder how the 'Canes will play in COLD weather

according to The Weather Channel:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Saturday: Snow showers ending by midday. Highs in the upper 30s and lows in the low 30s. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
 

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