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Canes relish FSU rivalry, share memories

They may not be the national title contenders or super powers they once were, but Florida State-Miami week still gets the blood boiling for the players and coaches involved. 

Sean Taylor's interception return for a touchdown against the Seminoles is Brandon Harris' fondest memory of the UM-FSU rivalry. Just ask Canes linebacker and special teams standout Jordan Futch. "I'm more excited than ever," Futch said Wednesday. "This is that one game that I came here for, that one game every UM football player came here for, to beat the hell out of Florida State."

Over the last two days, some Canes have shared their fondest memories of the rivalry. Some, like receiver Travis Benjamin, have talked about their own big moments against the Seminoles -- like in 2008 when as a freshman, Benjamin, compiled 274 all-purpose yards (the most by a Hurricane since Edgerrin James' 310 against UCLA in 1999). Others, like UM cornerback Brandon Harris, recall seeing the late Sean Taylor make big plays as some of their favorite moments.

"Watching Sean Taylor intercept the ball in the rain and running it back for a touchdown -- that's an image that a lot of us as kids saw and thought that one day we'd be in that position to make those plays, the ones that people remember," Harris said. "This is one of those games that guys want to step up and be remembered for a long time."

Of course, not every current Hurricane grew up a Canes fan. A Tallahassee native, cornerback Ryan Hill naturally grew up a Florida State fan. Receiver Leonard Hankerson said he loved the Seminoles growing up and was a huge fan of former FSU receiver Peter Warrick. But they both said they eventually saw the light -- and followed it to Coral Gables.

"Anytime you're born in Tallahassee you bleed garnet and gold for a certain amount of time," said Hill, who says whenever he goes back home he pulls his Hurricane car flags out of his trunk and flies them proudly. "But going into my senior year of high school I realized Florida State was not the school for me. I was a fan, but it wasn't a school I really wanted to go to as a player."

"Guys are excited. We've been waiting for this a long time. This is what you come to Miami for. Either you're garnet or gold or orange and green. You hate each other. When Florida State plays in Tallahassee, I think Leon County jail has one of the highest rates of incoming inmates that night. You can speculate why."


Lamar Miller > Don't count on redshirt freshman Lamar Miller playing Saturday. For the second consecutive practice Miller wore a green, non-contact jersey with an injured right shoulder. When he took his jersey off after practice, he was wearing a black harness on his shoulder to protect it. Players who do not practice by Wednesday don't usually play on Saturday.

> Shannon said special teams has been a focal point at practice all week: "We got a lot to improve from last week. We had the field goal blocked. So we're working on that very heavily. We're working on the kickoff team. We do some good great things on kickoff, then all of a sudden we'll have a bad play. We're focusing on that and our punt coverage. We have to make sure our fliers do a good job getting downfield. [FSU's Greg] Reid is an exceptional returner and we have to do a good job on that."

When asked if there would be any changes in personnel, Shannon said: "No. Just got to keep coaching. You don't keep trading guys everyday. You give them a chance -- twice -- and if a guy can improve you leave him in there. If not, then you make the change. Like anything, you just have to keep getting better."

Said Futch of UM's special teams: "Hopefully we can all do like [Patrick] Chung did against the Dolphins [Monday night] and make some plays on special teams."

> Shannon has been impressed with true freshman Brandon Linder, who has come in on special packages blocking packages on the offensive line. But if Linder is going to be given more playing time, he's going to have to earn it. "We gave him a small package in the game and he executed it," Shannon said. "Like anything, if you grow and develop, the more things you give guys to do. If they don't learn it, you back off it."

> As it stands, expect freshman Seantrel Henderson to start at right tackle and to split time with redshirt freshman Jermaine Johnson for the second consecutive game. Senior Joel Figueroa, who moved to guard before the Clemson game, is now on the second team. Brandon Washington and Harland Gunn are running with the first team at left and right guard.

Ryan Hill was asked about the Canes' 2008 recruiting class Tuesday and provided high praise. "I compare that class to a lighter," Hill said. "You take gas and take a spark, I think they were the spark. You have a bunch of guys here who are gas, want to be lit. And when they came in they just sparked us. You had older guys here like me, Jason Fox, Javarris James, guys who wanted to do whatever it takes to win. And then you brought these guys in who were used to winning - that's all they did was win in high school. You have a puzzle, pieces to a puzzle, and you finally put those pieces together to make a puzzle."

> Well after practice, senior Damien Berry was seen coaching freshman fullback Maurice Hagens through roly-polies. Not sure why Hagens had to do them. But it was another sign of seniors getting on freshmen. Sunday, Allen Bailey said he yelled at guys for being lazy.

> According to UM's sports information staff, only club level seats valued at $205 remain for Saturday's 8 p.m. kickoff against the Seminoles.