Offense now depends on Payton, Berlin

Updated: October 4, 2003, 1:25 AM ET
Associated Press

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Miami running back Frank Gore will miss the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his left knee.

Gore, the team's leading rusher with 89 carries for 468 yards, injured his knee on a 12-yard run in the first quarter of Thursday night's 22-20 win over West Virginia.

Tests Friday revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

"We know that with his determination and work ethic he will be back," Miami coach Larry Coker said.

A similar injury to his right knee caused Gore to miss all of last season.

He hurt his left knee first against East Carolina on Sept. 13, missing parts of practice the following week. Nonetheless, he played against Boston College, sprained his right ankle late in that game and did not return.

With the damage the 5-foot-10 sophomore suffered Thursday, he will have reconstructive knee surgery when the swelling subsides.

Without Gore, the Hurricanes will turn to senior Jarrett Payton and freshman Tyrone Moss. Receiver Jason Geathers also might be returned to tailback.

Payton ran 21 times for 69 yards against West Virginia and caught 10 passes for 71 yards. But he fumbled with just over three minutes to play, a crucial turnover that almost cost No. 2 Miami the game.

"For me, it's going to have to be a different mind-set," Payton said Friday. "Normally, I go in the week just trying to figure out if I'm going to go in and get some carries. Now, I have to get out here and be the man."

Despite Gore becoming the first player in school history to run for 100 yards in each of the first three games, the Hurricanes have struggled on the ground. His longest run was 30 yards, and a lack of big plays have been the biggest difference from a year ago -- when Willis McGahee set school records for rushing, total yards, touchdowns and 100-yard games.

Now, the pressure shifts from Gore to quarterback Brock Berlin, who was 37-of-54 for 352 yards against West Virginia.

Berlin tied a school record with the 54 attempts, mostly because the Hurricanes managed just 73 yards rushing after Gore left.

The Hurricanes play at No. 5 Florida State next Saturday.

"We need to buckle down, because if we don't establish the run this week, it's going to be a long day," Payton said. "I think everything is going to come together this week, hopefully."


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press