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Miami close to old standard

by Anthony Hanshew

SPORTS EDITOR

MORGANTOWN -- The Bangles didn't play at halftime. There were no commercials during CBS's broadcast with a little old lady asking "Where's the Beef?"

Still, it felt like 1986 Saturday at Mountaineer Stadium.

Miami, hounding West Virginia quarterback Brad Lewis into an abysmal performance and making repeated big plays, served notice that they're nearing the form that made the Hurricanes college football's standard (on the field) during the late '80s and early '90s.

It was complete domination in all three phases Saturday as the Hurricanes strolled out of Morgantown with a 47-10 victory. The loss was WVU's most lopsided since Penn State whacked the Mountaineers, 51-6, in 1991.

Mountaineer coach Don Nehlen was on the sideline for another long Saturday afternoon 14 years ago when Miami essentially brought an NFL All-Pro team to the Mountain State. Led by Vinny Testeverde and Michael Irvin, the No. 1 Hurricanes put on a show in a 58-14 win.

Nehlen believes this year's squad measures favorably with Vinny and the boys.

"This is the best Miami team I've gone up against," Nehlen said.

The Hurricanes aren't all the way back to Top 5 form, but they're closer than you might think. The reason is the same reason Miami won national titles under Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson -- defense.

Sure, watching Vinny, Steve Walsh, Craig Erickson etc. heave the ball downfield was entertaining, but defensive tackles Jerome Brown and Warren Sapp made the 'Canes intimidating.

Flash forward a few years and it's the same story.

Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns on 22-of-33 passing. Good solid numbers for an improving quarterback.

Defensively, however, is where Miami took control.

Even if the defense hadn't outscored West Virginia's offense (21-10), the performance still would have been impressive.

West Virginia did a serviceable job running the ball without starter Avon Cobourne, but there was nothing to find in the passing game. While Lewis was making bad throws and giving away yardage by refusing to throw the ball away, Miami corners had WVU receivers blanketed.

By covering with four defensive backs, Miami overloaded the front and dominated.

"Those defensive backs don't give a lot of room, and that destroys your passing game," Nehlen said.

Destroy. That pretty much sums up Miami-WVU Saturday.

It was a scene reminiscent of the days of The Cosby Show and acid-washed jeans.

Sports editor Anthony Hanshew can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at ahanshew@exponent-telegram.com.

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