|James, Cooper say they're ready to become strong RB duo|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 02 September 2007 09:00|
That's not the case.
And James doesn't mind one bit, either.
The Hurricanes unveiled a balanced two-runner attack Saturday against Marshall, drawing rave reviews. Graig Cooper ran for 116 yards in his first college game, James added 99 more with two touchdowns and the speedy duo averaged 8.3 yards per carry to help the Hurricanes open with a 31-3 victory.
``We've got athletes,'' Miami coach Randy Shannon said Sunday, one day after his tenure leading his alma mater began with a four-touchdown win. ``We've just got to get the ball in their hands and make guys miss.''
With 802 yards, James was Miami's leading rusher as a freshman last year, when he was the lone consistent performer in the Hurricanes' backfield.
He says no one is happier about Cooper's arrival than him.
``It definitely takes a lot of pressure off,'' James said. ``Usually in the game when you get tired or something you have to fight through it, but I know if I get tired and I can't give 100 percent on the play, this guy is going to come in and do the same - or probably better. Actually, I'm glad he came here.''
Cooper didn't need long to win over the Miami faithful. The crowd at the Orange Bowl was serenading him with drawn-out cries of ``Coop'' by his third carry.
Cooper came into his debut saying he was hoping for 15 touches. He got exactly that, 12 of them on carries and three more on punt returns that totaled 28 yards. And he provided Miami's biggest offensive highlight of the day; one play after James' 50-yard run was erased by a holding call, Cooper went up the middle for a 56-yard gain that set up a Miami touchdown.
``It went as we planned,'' Cooper said when asked about the shared workload. ``Excellent.''
Neither runner was stopped for a loss all day, either. But Shannon didn't see that as a major cause for celebration; he told the Hurricanes they had five postgame minutes to enjoy the win before starting to think about a serious test next week at No. 8 Oklahoma.
``You can get Gatorade dumped on your head. You can have everybody in Miami patting you on the shoulder,'' Shannon said. ``But you know what? That's never going to help you win the game next week.''
Putting up big rushing numbers against Marshall - a Conference USA school that'll be without star defensive end Albert McClellan all season because of a knee injury - is one thing.
Doing it next week at Oklahoma will be quite another. The Sooners held North Texas to 15 yards on 31 carries Saturday in an eye-catching 79-10 romp past the overmatched Sun Belt Conference opponent.
No, Marshall almost certainly isn't in Oklahoma's class. Still, Shannon doesn't see any reason to change the basic tenets of Miami's attack.
``We can wear teams down physically with the one-two combination,'' Shannon said. ``Also, we rotated the offensive line. We rotated the tackles and a lot of guys got a lot of playing time. If we can wear teams down like that and keep playing physical football, we're going to be fine.''