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Bryant insists 'Canes matchup 'just another game'

by Dan Shrensky

CORRESPONDENT

MORGANTOWN -- What's in a name? Not much if it happens to be the University of Miami or Hurricanes' receiver Santana Moss and you're West Virginia cornerback Richard Bryant.

When asked about the Mountaineers' upcoming Big East matchup against Miami at Mountaineer Field on Saturday, Bryant, a junior from Pahokee, Fla., replied, "It's just another game, man."

Concerning Moss, who is perhaps the most dangerous player in the Big East, Bryant said, "It's just a different name, that's all. I like going against the best, but it's just another name. We have a couple players on our team (who may be) better than him, that I check every day in practice."

WVU's Khori Ivy is bigger and has the experience to at least match Moss, a 5-10, 175-pound senior, and teammate Antonio Brown has comparable speed, but neither combines the complete package.

Moss, who also returns punts and kickoffs, is closing in on a host of Miami receiving records and has also set several school and Big East track and field standards.

He was named the most outstanding field performer for the 2000 Big East Outdoor Track & Field Championships after winning the triple jump and the long jump. He also won the 1999 Big East Indoor 60-meter championship, establishing a school and conference record of 6.83 seconds. His 4.3 40-yard dash time is best on the team.

Moss lost some luster to his Heisman hype with one catch for seven yards and a fumble in a 34-29 loss at Washington Sept. 9, but had a 77-yard punt return and 75-yard run for touchdowns in less than one half of work in a season-opening romp over McNeese State.

His performances against the Mountaineers are likewise spotty. He caught three passes for 66 yards against WVU as a freshman in 1997 but did not catch a pass when the teams met in 1998.

Last year, he caught four passes for 64 yards and had a 17-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. He has yet to score a touchdown against WVU, despite being tied for fourth on UM's career receiving touchdowns list with 14. He ranks third on UM's career receiving yardage list with 1,788.

n n n

After two less-than-anticipated crowds at Mountaineer Field, could the appearance of the Miami Hurricanes finally bring about a sellout?

WVU tackle Tanner Russell hopes so.

"One thing we need is our fan support. Our fans are great. They have been huge for us the past two games. We really need them next week," Russell said.

A crowd of 53,007 -- about 2,000 fewer than expected -- showed up to watch WVU beat Maryland 30-17 Sept. 16 at Mountaineer Field, two weeks after a disappointing 49,786 turned up for the home opener against Boston College.

Maybe a loud crowd could exorcise the demons that have haunted WVU in previous meetings against the Hurricanes in Morgantown.

Miami beat the Mountaineers 34-31 in its previous trip in 1998 and are 5-1 there all-time. Miami has won its past three games in Morgantown dating back to a 17-14 loss in 1993, when the Mountaineers notched their second undefeated regular season. Coach Butch Davis is 2-0 in Morgantown.

"When most teams see Miami is on their schedule, it becomes the marquee game for their home fans,'' Davis said.

"You expect to have a sellout. It's always a real loud crowd there, and every game we have had up there has come down to last two or three minutes of the game. So, it lends itself to the crowd being involved the whole time.''

WVU's most stunning loss came in 1996: Miami won 10-7 when Tremain Mack blocked a punt with 26 seconds left. Safety Jack Hallmon recovered the ball and handed off to Nate Brooks who raced untouched into the end zone from 20 yards out with 21 seconds left for the improbable victory.

Undoubtedly, WVU's players will be more focused on their 2-0 record and avenging last year's 28-20 defeat than history.

"Miami is definitely a big opportunity for us," said tailback Cooper Rego who rushed for a career high 114 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-17 win over Maryland Sept. 16.

"Miami is going to come in here kind of cocky or whatever because of the rankings, of course," said defensive tackle Antwan Lake, "but we're going to have to go out and play them like we did these last two teams."

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