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    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    Head To Head Matchup: Running Back

    6-0/200 sophomore Graig Cooper is the major running back for the Canes. In 2007, he shared the team's Rookie of the Year Award. Cooper led the team in rushing as a true freshman with 682 yards and a 5.5-yard average per carry. He also caught 13 passes for 129 yards in 2007. Cooper finished his first season with the third-most rushing yards ever by a Miami true freshman, behind only Clinton Portis (838 yards) and Javarris James (808 yards). He also led the team in rushing in six of 12 games.Cooper against the Noles last year was the leading rusher for the Canes with 80yards and 1 TD. He averaged eight yards a touch on 10 carries in the victory over the Noles.

    For 2008, Cooper has rushed for 291 yards and 3 rushing TDs. Against North Carolina, he rushed for 110 yards and 0 TDs. He however did have 1 receiving TD. Far behind Cooper is senior running back Derron Thomas who has rushed for 97 yards and 1 TD.

    Defensive matchup: Cooper and others will be facing a tough FSU defense who had its starters back for Colorado. The Nole run defense is ranked #2 in the ACC allowing a little over 67 yards a game. They have yet to allow a TD on the ground. Two Noles rank in the ACC top 10 of defensive leaders in tackles for a loss. Defensive lineman Everette Brown and linebacker Derek Nicholson are ranked #2 and #4 respectively in sacks for a loss. With Dekoda Watson back, the defense should be a definite asset against the Canes on Saturday.

    For the Noles, Antone Smith had an exceptional day against the Buffs. Hopefully that will carry forward to the game against the Canes this Saturday. Against Colorado, Smith carried the ball 25 times for 154 yards and 3 TDs. For the season, he has rushed for 302 yards and 5 TDs. Jermaine Thomas backs up Smith and has 162 yards and 2 TDs for the season. It will be important for the Noles to get the running game established due to the inexperience of Ponder in big game situations.

    Defensive matchup: As mentioned, the Noles are ranked #2 in rush defense in the ACC. However, the Canes are ranked #1. The Cane defense is only allowing 65 yards a game. They have also allowed only three TDs on the ground.

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