Page 16 —Thursday, September 18, 2003 SPORTS JEt|t jlnhiana Blame falls on Holcomb By SEAN McCLELLAND Cox News Service BEREA, Ohio — Criticized in some quarters for not shouldering enough blame after the Cleveland Browns' latest loss, quarterback Kelly Holcomb turned the mirror on himself Wednesday. "The bottom line is, I've stunk," Holcomb said. "There were receivers open, the offensive line did a good job blocking and I didn't make the plays. "We can't have what we've had the last two weeks, and that's on me." Holcomb, in his first season as a starter, is directing an offense that has produced one touchdown in eight quarters. It wasn't supposed to be like this, remember?, With Holcomb at the controls instead of Tim Couch, the Browns were supposed to be lighting up scoreboards and compensating for a defense that figured to struggle while breaking in young linebackers and mastering a new system. When the defense struggled historically in Sunday's 33-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens — allowing Jamal Lewis to set a single-game NFL record with 295 yards on the ground — the offense repeatedly failed to do its part and the Browns sank to 0-2. "There were plays to be made on that football field (Sunday)," Holcomb said. "There were guys open. I was rushing stuff. I could have waited a couple more seconds on some things. I messed up. I understand I have to play better." "I like the idea that he takes some personal responsibility," Browns coach Butch Davis said. "That's healthy for everybody, but you can't go to the extreme and blame one individual." Holcomb, owner of the AFC's lowest passer rating (49.4), completed 17 of 37 passes for 147 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions against the Ravens. Baltimore followed the lead of the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1 by employing two-deep zone Quarterback Kelfy Holcomb, who has yet to lead the Browns to a victory this season, admits 'I've stunk.' He has the lowest passer rating in the NFL (AP photo) easy," Holcomb said. "This is not an easy game. It's not an easy league." NOTES: In an unexpected development, the Browns waived third-string quarterback Josh Booty and replaced him on the 53-man roster with offensive lineman Craig Osika, one of the 49ers' final cuts last month. coverage much of the time to guard against the big play. After two games, Holcomb's longest completion is for 27 yards. The running game has been spotty. "You have to have a good running game and we've been lacking that," Holcomb said. "But it's no excuse." Holcomb is learning about being a starting quarterback in the NFL. Defensive coordinators are game-planning specifically for him, which wasn't the case last season at this time when he lit up the Chiefs and Bengals while substituting for an injured Couch. "I knew it wasn't going to be Eagles awaiting hurricane, Hurricanes By HANK KURZ Jr. AP Sports Writer Miami and Boston College rates as one of the most enticing rivalries in the Big East, a matchup that always seems to be close to the end and one that produced one of the most memorable endings in college football at the Orange Bowl in 1984. In that game, on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy, Doug Flutie threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Gerard Phelan as time expired, giving the Eagles a 47-45 victory. Despite the competitiveness of the series, in which the last four games in Chestnut Hill have been decided by an average of 4Vi points, No. 2 Miami will be seeking its 14th consecutive victory in the series when the team meet Saturday night at Alumni Stadium. A victory for the Eagles, coach Tom O'Brien said, would be huge. "We're still living off the Flutie pass from a long time ago," he said. ! The game will mark the last Big East notebook time the schools meet as Big East rivals because Miami is moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. The game could also be memorable for the weather, with many eyes on Hurricane Isabel's track for the weekend. O'Brien, though, is leaving those concerns to his administration. "There's two hurricanes coming. The football team is the one that concerns me," he said. Orange crush? Syracuse ranks last in the conference — and 106th in the nation — in pass defense. The Orange have allowed an average of 303 passing yards in a triple-overtime victory against North Carolina and last week's 30-20 home loss to Louisville. Opposing quarterbacks have completed better than 68 percent of their passes against Syracuse, and that probably 1 makes UCF quarterback Ryan Schnei- der's eyes light up. Schneider last week broke his school record by passing for 497 yards in the Knights' 33-29 victory against Florida Atlantic. His previous best was 440 yards, set against Syracuse last year in a38- 35 loss to the Orangemen at the Citrus Bowl. Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni says the timing of UCF's visit is cause for concern, especially with his young secondary clearly in need of some more seasoning. "They've got a guy that can really fling it, they've got excellent wide receivers who are quick and tall," Pasqualoni said of UCF, which scored 28 points against Virginia Tech. "There's no question that we've got to do a better job back there. "If we don't, it's going to be a very difficult day." The defense as a whole hasn't provided much help, failing to record a sack in the first two games, but free safety Anthony Smith said the DBs will be ready. "We already know off the top that they're going to go right to the pass like Louisville and try to go up top," Smith said. "We've just got to prepare hard in practice and just know what they're going to do. It's a lack of respect." Special guest Former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum and his wife are expected to be among those in attendance tonight when No. 8 Virginia Tech hosts the Aggies. The Slocums were invited by, and will sit with Hokies coach Frank Beamer's wife, Cheryl. But Beamer said he hasn't plied Slocum for information about these Aggies. "I talked to him one time about a week and a half ago," Beamer said this week. "He's got a lot of great memories at A&M and a lot of loyalty there." Beamer, however, was happy to oblige when Slocum asked for recommendations on a good restaurant, pointing to a steakhouse Beamer recently opened in downtown Roanoke. Beamer's also a big fan of the man he's come to know over the years. "R.C. had a great run there at Texas A&M," Beamer said. "He's one of the guys that's really well thought of, always won a lot of baUgames and did it the right way down there at Texas A&M. He's a guy I've always thought a lot of." Last season, the Hokies became the first nonconference team to win at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, since 1988 when they beat the Aggies 13-3. Slocum finished 6-6 and was ousted as coach after 14 seasons with a 123-47-2 record. Under Dennis Franchione, the Aggies are off to a 2-0 start. Note-able numbers Virginia Tech is 26-0 in games played before October since 1996.... Pittsburgh's Rod Rutherford has thrown 14 touchdown passes and only two interceptions in his last six games. He leads the nation in passing efficiency at 191.5. ... Saturday's West Virginia at Maryland game marks the third of five Big East vs. ACC matchups this season. The leagues "split the 'first two, Wake Forest winning at Boston College and Syracuse winning at .North Carolina in triple overtime. Porter expects to play By ALAN ROBINSON AP Sports Writer PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter returned to practice Wednesday, only 2Vz weeks after being injured in a drive-by shooting in Denver. When Porter was shot by an unknown assailant in a nightclub parking lot Aug. 31 following the Colorado State-Colorado game, the Steelers estimated he could miss as much as half the season. Instead, he is expected to play Sunday in Cincinnati after sitting out only two games. "I'm just happy to go out there and have a chance to do what I love doing, and that's play football," Porter said Wednesday. "To be able to do it 20 days after what happened is actually amazing." The bullet grazed Porter's buttocks and lodged in his right thigh before being surgically removed. Doctors said the threat of infection and the possibility that scar tissue might form around the wound made it difficult to predict how long Porter would b e out However, doctors told Porter the wound began healing immediately and without complications. That has allowed him to return almost as quickly as was possible with such an injury. Porter said it is important for him to practice well this week so that he can get ready to play at game speed again. "As far as running straight and cutting, anybody can go out there and do that — that's not playing football," said Porter, who practiced with the first- team defense. "I've got to find out what I can do taking on a double team block or having to cover somebody or wrapping up and making a tackle." Porter is hoping his return wiH provide a lift to a defense that allowed Kansas City's Priest Holmes to rush for 122 yards and three TDs in the Chiefs' 41-20 victory Sunday. The Steelers are ranked 23rd against the run. "I just want to go out there and put what happened behind me and get back to playing football and, after that, just try to get this team going," Porter said. "When, you watch from the sidelines, ;; you can't be a part'of that and it hurts." Wie tees off in men's tourney By DOUG ALDEN AP Sports Writer BOISE, Idaho — Michelle Wie's first few weeks of high school have been as hectic as her summer. Wie, the 13-year-old who hits 300-yard drives, will become the first female junior amateur to compete in a PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament this week at the Boise Open on the Nationwide Tour. Wie is scheduled to tee off this afternoon 'and she hopes to make even more history by making the cut, something she failed to do last month in a Canadian Tour event. "It'd be kind of cool. I love breaking records and being the first one to do something," Wie said Wednesday. If she hadn't accepted a sponsor's exemption to play in this week's tournament at Hillcrest Country Club, Wie said she would probably spend Thursday afternoon in her ninth-grade biology class at the private Puna- hou School in Honolulu. Instead, she's making more headlines. Wie's week got off to a solid start when she played in a charity skins game with PGA Tour members John Daly and Hank Kuehne and LPGA Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez. Wie shot a 1-under 34 in the nine-hole event — two strokes better than Daly and Lopez and one behind Kuehne. "I'm impressed with Michelle and her poise for 13 and how she swings the golf club," said John Cook, an 11-time PGA Tour winner. "When we were 13, we just kind of grabbed the club and just hit it. Fundamentals? What was .that? When she gets stronger it will be scary." Wie, who turns 14 next month, spent the summer playing with adults. She won the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links and played in several LPGA events. At the Nabisco Championship in March, she played well enough to be in the final group on Sunday and finished tied for ninth. Wie is already a huge name in golf, something that was noted by Boise-based Albertsons, which sponsors the tournament and offered Wie the exemption. The first two rounds are expected to draw the largest Thursday and Friday crowds in the tournament's 14-year history. Wie has already drawn a crowd all week, getting cheers Tuesday afternoon as she put on an exhibition at the driving range. An eighth-grade newspaper class from Meridian Middle School — with some students older than Wie — took a field trip Wednesday to attend Wie's news conference and pose for pictures with her. Wie doesn't quite understand the attention. "I'm not really that famous," she said. "I don't know. I don't really call it famous." Wie is the third female to play in a men's PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament this year. Annika Sorenstam and Suzy Whaley also missed the cut when they tried against the men. Last month at the Bay Mills Open Players Championship on the Canadian Tour, Wie was 9 over after rounds of 74 and 79. "I think playing there is going to help me get ready for this tournament. I don't know what I learned, but I feel like I'm on a different level," she said. "My game feels really good. I feel like I'm hitting the ball a lot better than this summer." While Cook said he was impressed by Wie's game, he doesn't want women playing on men's tours to become a trend. Soren- stam, who got a sponsor's exemption to play at Colonial in May, showed she could play competitively but ended up missing the cut by four strokes. Cook doesn't want to see women become gimmicks to attract attention at men's tournaments. "To be quite honest, you start to compare and that's not what this is about There's no need to compare. The bottom line is that's what you end up getting and that's not fair," he said. "If we start seeing more crossover stuff, I don't see anything good that can happen." Zanardi to race again Oct. 19 Michelle Wie will begin play today in the Boise Open, a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. (AP photo) Event could get messy Continued from page 15 If rains do pelt the 7,329-yard, Pete Dye-designed Mystic Rock course at the Nemacolin Woodlands resort, they could soften it up and make it play even longer. However, Dan Forsman, who won in suburban Philadelphia last year when the event was known as the Pennsylvania Gas- sic, felt the course was normal Tuesday despite a half-inch of rain that fell Monday. "The conditions are fantastic," Forsman said. "I can't believe how well it drained. ... And we might need that, right?" As play starts today, Forsman and the rest of the field will be curious to see if the tournament again starts a trend. A year ago, Forsman, then 44, won on the PGA Tour for the first time in 10 years. That began a pattern that has seen 10 golfers 40 or over win a tour event during the last year. There have been eight 40-or-over winners this year, including three-time winners Singh (40) and Kenny Perry (43), plus 50- year-old Craig Stadler, who won on the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour in consecutive weeks. The other 40-plus winners: Peter Jacobsen (49), Scott Hoch (47), BobTway (44), Fred Couples (43) and KirkTriplett (41). None of those winners, except for Forsman, are competing in the $4 million 84 Lumber Classic, which is being staged at a mountaintop resort about 70 miles from Pittsburgh. Only one of the top 20 money winners (No. 14 Chris DiMarco) and 12 of the top 50 are entered. By The Associated Press MUNICH, Germany — Alessandro Zanardi is making a one-race comeback, two years after losing both legs in a crash in Germany. Zanardi will drive a specially designed BMW 320i car at the Oct. 19 FIA European Touring Car Championship race in Monza, Italy, the BMW racing team said Wednesday. The Italian driver lost both legs in a crash during a CART series race on Sept 15,2001. "I escaped death two years ago," the former Formula One driver said in the statement released by BMW. "Although the situation was so difficult then, I made it my goal to lead a normal life again. "Today, I run, I swim, I ski and on Oct. 191 will complete my vision and compete in a race again," Zanardi said. The car to be driven by Zanardi will have its accelerator and clutch attached to the steering wheel, BMW said. There were no plans for Zanardi to race again next year, said BMW spokeswoman Heike Bartsch. "He wants to see how it feels. If everything goes well, there could be talks in the future about him racing again," she said. Football WASHINGTON — The 2007 Super Bowl was awarded to Miami by NFL owners. The owners ratified a decision made last spring to hold the game at Pro Player Stadium. The league also agreed to extend the life of NFL Europe for two more seasons, but did so by the slimmest possible margin — it got the minimum 24 votes needed for approval. ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos signed quarterback Danny Kanell, less than three weeks after deciding to keep just two quarterbacks on the roster. Kanell was released by Denver on Sept. 1 when the Broncos decided to go with Jake Plummer and Steve Beuerlein as their only quarterbacks. Briefs Basketball MIAMI — The salaries of Miami Heat employees will be cut 10 percent this season, a reduction that excludes the players but includes team president and coach Pat Riiey. The reductions will allow the organization to avoid further layoffs. A few employees were let go after last season. The reductions include the business operation and the management of American Airlines Arena. Riley's annual salary is estimated at $5 million, which means his pay cut could amount to $500,000 for 2003-04. The Heat say they've to been losing up to $30 million annually in recent years because of high player salaries, arena debt payments and reduced attendance. HOUSTON — New York Knicks forward Othella Harrington sprained a ligament in his right knee and will need 4-to-8 weeks to recover. The Knicks said Harrington was working out on Monday when he injured his medial collateral ligament ANN ARBOR, Mich. — University of Michigan officials asked a federal judge to order NBA star Chris Webber to reimburse the school $695,000 for legal fees and losses from NCAA penalties. Board of Regents chairman Lawrence Deitch and Marvin Krislov, the university's general counsel, made the request in letters to U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds. The letters were among dozens Edmunds received before the Tuesday court hearing in which Webber, a member of Michigan's "Fab Five" from 1991-93 who now plays for the Sacramento Kings, was to be sentenced for criminal contempt. Under a plea agreement, Webber admitted he lied to a grand jury when he testified in August 2000 that he couldn't remember repaying booster Eddie Martin about $38,200 in 1994. Edmunds has not acted on the university's request. She had no comment on the letters.
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