November 8, 2005

Miami assistant runs away with award

Miami defensive coordinator Randy Shannon prefers not to speak with the media. The former Hurricanes linebacker doesn't do phone interviews. He will chat with local reporters after practice occasionally, but wants all the attention on his players.

Thanks to Shannon's masterful preparation for Virginia Tech's offense and Marcus Vick he got his wish Saturday in Blacksburg, Va. In a battle of the nation's top two defenses, the No. 4 Hurricanes left no doubt as to who was the best, dominating the Hokies in a 27-7 route and forcing Vick into six turnovers. The performance made Shannon the clear choice for Rivals.com's Coordinator of the Week.

Shannon probably doesn't want the honor, but his players certainly won't mind sharing the spotlight with the man who seemed to make all the right calls and adjustments in Lane Stadium.

"Coach Shannon put in a great game plan, everyone played well," Miami linebacker Jon Beason said after the lopsided victory. "We like to come into a hostile environment and come out victorious. No one was scared, no one was intimidated. There were a couple of minor busts that didn't hurt us."

Just about everything Miami's defense - which is now giving up a nation-low 214 yards per game (25 yards less than Virginia Tech's second-ranked unit) - worked. Executing Shannon's aggressive schemes out of a 4-3 alignment, they held the Hokies' balanced offense to 53 yards in the first half and a season-low 167 for the game. It was the fifth consecutive game which the 'Canes have held an opponent to less than 200 yards. The Hokies weren't able to get past the 'Canes 33-yard line until 11 minutes remained.

Those measly numbers centered around getting pressure on Vick, who was sacked six times, fumbled four times and threw two interceptions to Kelly Jennings. Considered one of the nation's top quarterbacks, he was second in passing efficiency (167.2) and completion percentage (67) among all Division I-A signal callers entering the game.

But, the normally poised junior looked rattled from the start, completing just one of his first 10 passes. Jennings grabbed one of those throws and two others were nearly picked off. Vick finished 8-of-22 (36 percent) for 91 yards. The 'Canes also managed to keep him from making plays on the run, holding him to 17 rushing yards.

It was a Vick turnover late in the third quarter that sealed the Hokies' fate. A hit from defensive tackle Kareem Brown knocked the ball out of his hands and into the Hokies end zone where the 'Canes recovered it for a 27-0 lead.

Tech running backs Cedric Humes and Mike Imoh weren't able to give Vick much help, combining for 35 yards on 13 carries.

Here's a look at some of the other coordinators who were nominated for the award:

• Penn State's defense managed to do something no Wisconsin opponent has managed yet: Shut down Brian Calhoun. Facing defensive coordinator Tom Bradley's disciplined system, Wisconsin's Heisman candidate did have six catches for 48 yards, but he did little damage on the ground, finishing with 38 yards on 20 carries in the Nittany Lions' 35-14 thrashing.

• Arizona offensive coordinator Mike Canales played a big role in the Wildcats' shocking 52-14 upset of then-No. 7 UCLA. Led by a freshman quarterback making his second start and a freshman receiver, the Wildcats scored touchdowns on their first four possessions. Willie Tuitama fired two touchdown passes without having an interception and Mike Thomas had five catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. Thomas also ran for a 17-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

• A lot of future Florida opponents will be trying to duplicate the game plan that Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Ted Cain put together against the Gators. The Commodores racked up 419 yards, including 361 in the passing game, against one of the SEC's top defenses. Those stats nearly led to a giant upset, but the Gators managed pull out a 49-42 win in double overtime. Quarterback Jay Cutler ripped apart the Gators' secondary down the stretch and finished with four touchdown passes.

• Kansas defensive coordinator Bill Young earned Rivals.com's Coordinator of the Week last week after the Jayhawks' 13-3 win over Missouri. But, his players' latest performance might have even been better. The Jayhawks broke a 36-game losing streak to the Cornhuskers in style, allowing just 138 total yards and seven first downs in a 40-15 route.


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