It should come as no surprise that the Washington State Cougars, under the leadership of coach Mike Leach, are going to throw the ball in the Hyundai Sun Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes. A LOT. To combat that, Miami will look to one of the leaders on defense: junior CB Artie Burns.
Burns has had a strong season for Miami. He led the ACC with 6 interceptions, and SHOULD have been 7, but the horrible, terrible, disgustingly bad referees who worked the Duke game took away Burns' erstwhile game-winning interception. But, I digress.
Burns has a great combination of size (6'0" 195lbs) and skill. He earned 2nd team All-ACC accolades for his strong play this year, and did so by matching up with some of the top receivers in the country on a weekly basis.
Not only is Artie Burns a talented player, he is very tough and resilient. He earned the Kelly UTough award for the Hurricanes this year. Additionally, Burns played nearly half the season after the sudden passing of his mother, Dana Scott, who died of a heart attack. If that doesn't speak to Burns' toughness, I don't know what does.
Washington State uses many receivers in their Air Raid passing system. Those receivers are led by Gabe Marks and Dom Williams, who have been targeted a combined 262 times so far this year. Washington State has thrown a total of 682 passes this year. For comparison, Miami has thrown less passes (415) than Washington State starting QB Luke Falk has completed (418) on the year.
To combat that passing attack, the entire Hurricanes defense will need to play in coverage, and play it well. Not only does Artie Burns have that ability, but he's the one player who can take advantage of errant throws and turn them into takeaways, as he's already done 6 times this year.
Facing a passing attack as coordinated and potent as Washington State's is never and easy task. Luckily for Miami, Artie Burns is ready for the challenge.