Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

How They Match Up

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

How They Match Up

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Thomas, Times-Union sports writer

Quarterbacks

Seminoles: Sophomore Chris Rix makes his first start at the Orange Bowl. He'll need to protect the football better than he did in last season's six-turnover performance against the 'Canes. Rix has just one turnover in his last four games, but has become overly cautious in the pocket, thus less dangerous as a runner. is mobility will be critical against Miami's third-rated pass defense

Hurricanes: Senior Ken Dorsey continues to be the picture of calm and efficiency, willing to take what opponents surrender. His quick release and sound decision-making have led to a 31-1 record as Miami's starter. Efficient at working the mid-range passing game, especially to backs and tight ends, he also has thrown 72 touchdown passes.

Edge: Hurricanes

Running backs

Seminoles: Greg Jones carries the bulk of the load for the 'Noles and averages 5.9 yards per carry. Senior TB Nick Maddox provides the perfect changeup to Jones' bullish style, a quick first step and elusiveness that have allowed him to average 6.7 yards a carry. Maddox is also the Seminoles' most polished receiver out of the backfield.

Hurricanes: Quick-hitting sophomore TB Willis McGahee has emerged as one of the nation's premier backs, with 640 yards and 10 TDs as he has reeled off four consecutive 100-yard games. That streak began after he tallied 204 yards against Florida. Backup Jason Geathers (365 yds.) averages 6.8 yards per carry.

Edge: Seminoles

Receivers

Seminoles: Anquan Boldin emerged with his first 100-yard game at Miami as a freshman in 2000 and has returned from reconstructive knee surgery to lead the team with 27 receptions and four TDs. Senior Talman Gardner (17 receptions, 5 TDs), the only bonafide speed receiver, may have trouble getting deep to improve on 18.8-yard average per game. Sophomores P.K. Sam and Craphonso Thorpe have battled inconsistency and injury.

Hurricanes: Miami spreads the ball around with efficiency as four Hurricanes have three TD receptions and at least 10 receptions. TE Kellen Winslow Jr. leads the team with 16, followed by Johnson's 14. Beard (12) and Sands (11) follow closely behind in UM's controlled passing attack. Though there is ample speed, Johnson's 16.9 yards per catch is best among the top four.

Edge: Hurricanes

Run defense

Seminoles: FSU remains stubborn against the run, limiting the opposition to 104 yards a game at an average of 3.0 per carry. Interior linemen Darnell Dockett, Travis Johnson and Jeff Womble lead a strong interior push that has helped the 'Noles rack up 49 tackles for loss. Miami's massive offensive front and McGahee's quickness to the hole pose a concern, particularly if they are able to get off initial blocks and attack FSU's second wave.

Hurricanes: Two-deep across the defensive front, tackles Matt Walters, William Joseph and Vince Wilfork have provided UM with an impenetrable wall against the run. …

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