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July 23, 2006

Miami players address Friday's shooting

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - On Friday, two Miami players were involved in a shooting and it was topic A for the two Miami players, Kyle Wright and Jon Beason, that were in attendance Sunday at the ACC Media Days at the Marriott Sawgrass Resort and Beach Club.

Junior safety Willie Cooper was shot in the buttocks outside the off-campus house he shares with two other members of the team including star safety Brandon Meriweather.

According to police reports, "Meriweather came home and found a late model blue Audi running in front of the house, with two people sitting inside of it. He mentioned it to Cooper and when they went outside to investigate, one of the suspects [in the car] shot Cooper. Meriweather then returned fire with a semiautomatic pistol.''

Meriweather fired three times, but it is not known if he hit the man, who wore a bandanna over his face. The players said they didn't know him or the Audi's driver.

Cooper was taken to the hospital and later released. There is an ongoing investigation by the South Miami Police into the matter.

Beason didn't talk about specifics of the whole situation but wanted to fend off any questions regarding the Hurricanes' "reputation"

"We have a player get shot and it's Miami this and Miami that and we are this and we are that. Miami is a big city and this could happen anywhere," Beason said. "You can't control it if someone tries to come up and rob you or whatever. I don't think it should create this mentality of us being thuggish or whatever. We worry about those guys right now."

NEW FACE NEW PLACE

Virginia's Christian Olsen isn't unlike several ACC quarterbacks this year in that he's a little untested. He probably does differ from than in his musical tastes.

"I love country music actually. I have it on in my car like 95 percent of the time. I really like - and I know this is strange - the girl country singers," said Olsen, a native of the country music hotbed of Wayne, N.J.

Surely, however, most questions about involving Olsen aren't really about his musical tastes, especially for UVa fans.

Olsen, a transfer from Notre Dame in the fall of 2003, has attempted just 23 passes in his Virginia career as he sat behind Marques Hagans. Now, Olsen will be thrust into the position of starter as he was named such as well as team captain by Al Groh after spring practice.

What does Olsen say to those who may doubt his readiness or even talent?

"I know I will be ready for that first start against Pitt. It's a big game for us right off the bat," Olsen said. "If we don't win this first game, it will make it difficult for us for the rest of the season. So really, we all have to be ready for that game."

Anytime there is a change at quarterback, an obvious question is the confidence level of teammates in the new signal caller. That is not an issue for the Cavaliers, according to cornerback Marcus Hamilton.

"I think we all believe in him. We know he listens to the coaches, does what they want and makes those proper decisions when necessary," Hamilton said.

Any more words for detractors or doubters? Olsen didn't address that as an individual but rather collectively since the Cavaliers lost several key performers from a team that finished 7-5 last season with a victory in the Music City Bowl.

"I know people are skeptical but I really think we are going to surprise some people," Olsen said.

The at ease Olsen was pestered by similar questions about himself and the Cavaliers for most of the interview session but did find some lighter moments, especially when the subject of his "modeling" career surfaced.

During the offseason, several glossy photos of Olsen appeared on Internet sites throughout the ACC. They were put out on their on the false pretense that Olsen was trying to begin a modeling career. Those rumors Olsen squashed Sunday.

"No, no, no. That really was just a joke but those things did circulate a lot. My mom even saw them," Olsen said.

LYING IN WAIT

Notre Dame, a trendy pick atop many preseason prognostications, opens their 2006 campaign at Georgia Tech on Sept. 2.

Some observers look at the USC and Penn State and others as big roadblocks on the Irish's schedule.

Georgia Tech? Most Notre Dame partisans are probably looking forward to the game in Hot-lanta but likely know only Calvin Johnson from the Yellow Jacket roster.

What many should remember, however, is that last season Georgia Tech opened its season with a mildly surprising upset at Auburn.

Can the Jackets repeat the feat, this time in their own stadium?

At least one Jacket thinks so.

"It will probably be the biggest game that I've ever played in," said Georgia Tech defensive tackle Joe Anoai. "We are going to prepare for them like any other team and how we will prepare for Stanford the next week. I'm not going to sit here and talk about how great they are and how they deserve all this hype and attention. We aren't going to change things for them. We are going to go out there and do what we do. … We look at it as a great opportunity to showcase our talents and our abilities and our arsenal. It's really a stepping stone. A big stepping stone."

TOUGHEST PLACES TO PLAY?

Last season, Rivals.com voted Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium as the toughest place to play in the nation.

When Virginia Tech's Danny McGrath was asked about what he felt was the toughest places to play in the ACC, he claimed he could only answer it partially.

"You know, we haven't had a chance to play at Clemson or Florida State yet. So I don't think I can give a complete answer yet but I do think our place is pretty tough," McGrath said.

The toughest place he's played, though?

"You know, when we were in the Big East, I was always thought the dome at Syracuse was a pretty tough place to play," McGrath said. "One carryover sort of is Miami. I think it's always tough down there and that hasn't changed."

NEW LEADERSHIP

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, perhaps concerned by the offseason troubles that beset former quarterback Marcus Vick is demanding a new attitude from his players this upcoming season.

Apparently, Beamer made a point to have one-on-one meetings with several returning players with leadership and discipline being the main topic of discussion.

"Coach took a lot of us aside and talked about discipline and leadership and those kinds of things," said senior rover back Aaron Rouse. "I know he talked to me and guys like Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi. We know what we have responsibilities we have for this upcoming season."

BOOKER ADDRESSES OFFSEASON WOES

In June, former Seminoles A.J. Nicholson - now with the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals - and Fred Rouse - who later transferred to UTEP - were charged with stealing electronic equipment worth approximately $1,700 from the home of senior running back Lorenzo Booker.

Booker was asked about his offseason and the odd nature of it, during his interviews with the media Sunday at the ACC Media Days.

"Of course I was mad about it but it material things and those things can be replaced," Booker said. "It was upsetting because they were teammates and it hurt that relationship but I've replaced all that stuff."

Booker, however, is a little more guarded these days.

"I've accepted, moved on and keep the doors locked," Booker said.

MCGILL IS BACK

North Carolina senior tailback Ronnie McGill looked like the happiest player at the events Sunday. It definitely stood out since most players resemble patients before wisdom-tooth surgery for the mandatory interview sessions with the media.

But McGill was all smiles. It's probably because his summer was thankfully uneventful.

Last summer, McGill tore his pectoral (chest) muscle lifting weights and did not return until October. McGill played the last seven games and would have ranked fifth in the ACC in rushing yards per game but didn't qualify having only played seven games.

"Nothing to report this summer. It's been boring compared to last year," McGill said with a wide grin.

McGill is touted as an ACC candidate this season and will be one of the most veteran ball carries in the league in actuality.

Of course, McGill is just happy to, well, be completely eligible for such honors.

"You don't really know how lucky you are until you can't play. I went through that last year and sitting on the sidelines was tough. I'm just looking forward to being healthy this year."


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