Hurricanes blow into Virginia with swagger back

Miami looks like it has its swagger back.

The No. 22 Hurricanes are coming off their biggest victory of

the season, a 33-10 romp over North Carolina, and coming to

Virginia with designs on doing something big this season.

At 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the ACC, the Hurricanes are a game

behind No. 21 Virginia Tech in the Coastal Division and eyeing a

Nov. 20 date with the Hokies.

But coach Randy Shannon won’t allow his team to look past

Virginia (3-4, 0-3), which hasn’t won a league game in over a year

but is coming off a confidence-building victory.

Shannon’s team appears to be listening, too.

”We’re focused now,” wide receiver Leonard Hankerson said.

”We’re getting on each other in practice, then take the same into

the game and that’s why we’re pumped up now. And their pass

defense, it’s legit. They’ll give us their ‘A’ game and we’ll need

to respond.”

In the victory over the Tar Heels, the Hurricanes scored 30

unanswered points and resembled the teams of the 1980s that

dominated college football. Following an often-heated players-only

meeting designed to bring emotion into their game, they drew an

unsportsmanlike conduct flag for celebration, and the defense even

danced on the field during a timeout.

Shannon, a player in those bad-boy days, wants to see more of

that emotion Saturday.

”What is our mindset going to be? That’s what we’ll talk

about,” Shannon said. ”We’ll talk about where we need to be as

the University of Miami football team. And then we’ll talk about

how Virginia has moved the ball on opponents. It’s just turnovers

that’s keeping them from where they want to be. And they’ve got two

cornerbacks that are really good.”

The Cavaliers have felt all season that they are just a few

plays from turning the corner under first-year coach Mike London,

but stopping big plays would help, too.

Even in handing Eastern Michigan of the Mid-American Conference

its 19th loss in 20 games, 45-21 last week, they allowed the Eagles

to run for 209 yards by halftime, and needed a kickoff return

touchdown and a fake punt that produced another to finally pull

away.

But the bottom line, wide receiver Matt Snyder said, is that

they won, putting the bad taste of three lopsided losses in

conference games out of their heads. In each of those, against

Florida State, Georgia Tech and the Tar Heels, they were well

behind by halftime.

”I think a fast start is always critical, and that’s something

after the first couple of weeks that we realized we need to focus

on,” said Snyder, the team’s third-leading receiver.

London hopes the positives of a 31-7 second half a week ago

carry over this week. It was Virginia’s first victory against a

Bowl Subdivision team since it beat Maryland last Oct. 17.

They have played nine league games since then, and come up short

every time.

The Hurricanes would like nothing more than to extend that

streak to 10, and hope to bring the same kind of emotion and

swagger that helped carry them past the Tar Heels.

”When we’re doing that, we get the sideline into the game and

then home or away, you feel like you’re not letting your teammates

down,” defensive tackle Marcus Forston said.

”We did the same thing in high school. Brings back a lot of

memories.”