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1991 (12-0-0): Gino, The Ruthless Posse And Wide Right I

A combustible offense, a rock-solid defense and the nation’s best special teams – by 1991 all these traits had become synonymous with Miami football and this team represented the zenith of its era. Quarterback Gino Torretta, a group of skill players nicknamed “The Ruthless Posse”, and a linebacker corps that ranks among the greatest ever assembled, led these Hurricanes.

Miami was seldom challenged. When they were, the Hurricanes passed every test. They started the season by ripping Arkansas on the road and dominating a Houston offense that had terrorized opponents for four seasons up to that game. Their first stiff challenge came against Penn State on October 12 and the Hurricanes, behind staunch defense and big plays by Horace Copeland (80-yard scoring catch) and Williams (91-yard punt return for a TD) held off the Nittany Lions.

Two challenges in November punctuated the season. First was the annual grudge match in Tallahassee against Florida State. In what became known as “Wide Right I” the Hurricanes erased a 16-7 deficit in the final period on a 45-yard field goal by Carlos Huerta and a one-yard run by Larry Jones with 3:01 left to take a 17-16 lead. FSU marched down for a potential game-winning field goal in the closing seconds, but Gerry Thomas’s 34-yard attempt was wide right.

Miami escaped another close call a week later, slipping by Boston College on the road. The Hurricanes defense held off a late BC drive in the final seconds to preserve the 19-14 victory. A blowout of San Diego State clinched an Orange Bowl berth.

With their fourth national title in their sights, there was no stopping the Hurricanes against Nebraska. Miami stymied the Huskers offense as few have, limiting the famed Nebraska ground game to just 82 rushing yards and throwing a shutout of the Big Eight Conference champions.

The victory gave Miami the national title in the Associated Press rankings. The Hurricanes shared overall national honors with Rose Bowl champ Washington, which nudged ahead in the coaches’ poll.

1991 (12-0-0)
Head Coach: Dennis Erickson

Date UM Rank Opponent Result Score
Aug. 31 3 at Arkansas W 31-3
Sept. 12 2 (10) Houston W 40-10
Sept. 28 2 at Tulsa W 34-10
Oct. 5 2 Oklahoma State W 40-3
Oct. 12 2 (9) Penn State W 26-20
Oct. 19 2 Long Beach State W 55-0
Oct. 26 2 at Arizona W 36-9
Nov. 9 3 West Virginia W 27-3
Nov. 16 2 at (1) Florida State W 17-16
Nov. 23 1 at Boston College W 19-14
Nov. 30 1 San Diego State W 39-12
Jan. 1 1 *vs. (11) Nebraska W 22-0
386-100

*Orange Bowl Classic, Miami

Starting Lineup
Offense

SE – Horace Copeland
TE – Coleman Bell/Joe Moore
WT – Leon Searcy
WG – Rudy Barber
C – Kelvin Harris
SG – Claude Jones
ST – Mario Cristobal
FL – Lamar Thomas
QB – Gino Torretta
FB – Stephen McGuire
TB – Darryl Spencer

Defense
RE – Rusty Medearis
RT – Eric Miller
LT – Anthony Hamlet
LE – Kevin Patrick
WLB – Jessie Armstead
MLB – Michael Barrow
SLB – Darrin Smith
RCB – Herbert James
FS – Darryl Williams
SS – Hurlie Brown
LCB – Ryan McNeil

Specialists
PK – Carlos Huerta
P – Paul Snyder
DS – Tom Patterson
HOL – Joe Moore
PR – Kevin Williams
KOR – Kevin Williams, Darryl Spencer

Coaching Staff
Head Coach – Dennis Erickson
Assistant Coaches
Gregg Smith, assistant head coach/offensive line
Bob Bratkowski, offensive coordinator/receivers
Sonny Lubick, defensive coordinator/defensive backs
Dave Arnold, tight ends/special teams
Bob Karmelowicz, defensive line
Art Kehoe, offensive line
Ed Orgeron, defensive line
Tommy Tuberville, linebackers
Alex Wood, running backs
Carmen Grosso, volunteer assistant
Scott Auker, graduate assistant
Eddie Gran, graduate assistant
Jim Michalczik, graduate assistant
Randy Shannon, graduate assistant

1991 Statistical Leaders

RUSHING
Att. Yards Avg. TD LP
S. McGuire 123 608 4.9 9 34
PASSING
A-C-I Yards Pct. TD LP
G. Torretta 371-205-8 3095 55.3 20 99
RECEIVING
No. Yards Avg. TD LP
L. Thomas 39 623 16.0 6 71
INTERCEPTIONS
No. Yards Avg. TD LP
R. McNeil 5 73 14.6 0 50
PUNTING
No. Yards Avg. I20 LG
P. Snyder 36 1381 38.4 7 50
PUNT RETURNS
No. Yards Avg. TD LP
K. Williams 36 560 15.6 3 91
KICKOFF RETURNS
No. Yards Avg. TD LP
K. Williams 10 185 18.5 0 42
FIELD GOALS
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Total
Huerta 0-0 10-10 3-3 4-6 0-2 17-21

“To win one national championship is amazing. For guys to win their second in three years, that hasn’t been accomplished by many. That’s what makes this championship special. And it came in a situation where we had not been picked to be that good. Some people said we’d be No. 3 in the state of Florida.”
– Dennis Erickson, Miami head coach