'Canes defense will bounce back

Scouts, Inc., examines the Clemson-Miami matchup and sees the Hurricanes taking care of business.

Originally Published: November 4, 2004
By Todd McShay | Scouts, Inc.
The Hurricanes are fresh off their first loss of the 2004 season, which snapped a 10-game winning streak dating back to last November. Miami will look to get back on track and keep pace in the ACC.

Who: Clemson vs. Miami
When: Sat., 7:45 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Where: Orange Bowl, Miami, FL

Larry Coker's team is tied for the conference lead with Virginia and Virginia Tech, and those teams still loom on their schedule. Miami cannot afford another letdown against a Clemson. For the second-consecutive year, Tommy Bowden's team is surging in the second half of the season.

QB Brock Berlin has played the best football of his collegiate career since Miami's second-half comeback against Louisville three weeks ago, but the Hurricanes have other problems.

In order to avoid back-to-back losses like it experienced last year versus Virginia Tech and Tennessee, Miami must solidify its defense. After allowing just 26 points in the first four games of the season, the Hurricane defense has surrendered 100 points in its three games against Louisville, N.C. State and North Carolina. The fact that Clemson's offense has finally begun to click, makes Saturday night's contest even more of a challenge for Miami.

Following a sluggish start, as he adjusted to new wide receivers, QB Charlie Whitehurst has found a rhythm and a reliable target in WR Airese Currie. Clemson's offense also established more balance with the one-two punch of Reggie Merriweather and Duane Coleman at running back. The result has been an average of 23.7 points during the team's three-game winning streak.

With winnable games left against Duke and South Carolina, the Tigers are looking at this week's trip to South Florida as a crucial game. A win would give them an opportunity to finish with a solid 7-4 overall record, and would likely place them in the top half of the ACC standings. However, a loss would leave the Tigers scrambling to become bowl-eligible.

Todd McShay

ESPN Senior Writer