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Published Sunday, September 10, 2000, in the Miami Herald

Tuiasosopo keeps defense on heels

BY DANNY O'NEIL
Special to The Herald

MIAMI HURRICANES
MR. VERSATILITY: Marques Tuiasosopo passed for 223 yards and a touchdown, and added 45 yards rushing and another score.
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UM coach Butch Davis
UM coach Butch Davis (part 2)
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UM QB Ken Dorsey (part 2)
UM LB Dan Morgan
SEATTLE -- University of Miami cornerback Leonard Myers never doubted the arm strength of Washington quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo.

It was Tuiasosopo's decisions that Myers and the Hurricanes' defense questioned before Saturday's game at Husky Stadium. The Hurricanes wanted to force Tuiasosopo to think in the pocket by stopping the run first and forcing him to throw.

``[Saturday] he was a good decision-maker,'' Myers said.

The Hurricanes presented Tuiasosopo with a test, and he passed by throwing for 141 yards and a touchdown in the first half when Washington couldn't move the ball on the ground against Miami's front-loaded defense.

``We wanted to stop their quarterback and shut down their running game,'' said UM linebacker Dan Morgan, who finished with a game-high 17 tackles, including 14 solo. ``I think we did that good.''

Very good.

In the first half, Huskies starting tailback Paul Arnold gained four yards on seven carries. The Huskies gained 61 yards on 25 running plays, an average of 2.44 yards. Faced with a defense committed to stopping the run, Washington took to the air.

``I don't think they expected us to empty out the backfield and throw it,'' Tuiasosopo said.

That's what Tuiasosopo did as Washington confused Miami's defense with a variety of formations. Washington led 21-3 at halftime because Tuiasosopo completed 9 of 15 passes -- including four of 20 yards or more.

Washington's final touchdown of the half was a three-play drive that covered 49 yards. The first completion was 26 yards to Braxton Cleman, a backup tailback. The touchdown was a 23-yard pass to tight end Jerramy Stevens, and no Miami defender was within 15 yards of him as he made the catch in the end zone.

``They were making shifts out of the option to throw the ball,'' Myers said. ``We were late moving the defense.''

The secondary improved its play in the second half, twice intercepting Tuiasosopo, who was more dangerous on the ground as he rushed for 41 yards in the second half and finished with 76 for the game, a team-high for Washington.

But while the defense stiffened, three mistakes by the Miami defense were costly as they led to Washington's only touchdowns of the half. First, Washington freshman Rich Alexis of Boca Raton scored on a 50-yard run after he hurdled a defender who had taken a bad angle on the play.

The more costly mistakes came on Washington's final scoring drive, which began late in the third quarter and consumed more than four minutes. Then two UM pass-interference penalties helped Washington on an 80-yard drive that ended with the Huskies' final touchdown.

``We had the penalties and that's what really killed us,'' UM defensive tackle Damione Lewis said.

 

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