Coker Names Berlin Starter

University of Miami head football coach Larry Coker announced Thursday that junior Brock Berlin has been named Miami's starting quarterback heading into the summer. Below is a full transcript of Coach Coker's comments to the news media at a press gathering held Thursday afternoon at the Hecht Athletic Center on the University of Miami campus.

Coach Larry Coker's Comments On The Miami Hurricanes Quarterback Situation

"I appreciate you coming out on such short notice. This situation that you're all aware of, that you've asked about and we've talked about - our quarterback situation - has gone through the off-season and developed into the spring. I've debated and thought about it. Summer is really a tremendously important time for this football team. It's been one of the best things that's happened here, our summer workouts and summer program. I think, along with that, goes the leadership of that program. The thing that we saw in the spring and, I think, the thing that we see going into the summer, is the individual workouts, is the leadership of our offensive football team, that we have in the players.

"As you probably know, coaches can't be out there to orchestrate drills and orchestrate practices during the spring. I though it was imperative that for us to have the kind of football team that we want to have, that we expect to have, that I think it's my responsibility as a head coach to make a decision and to give our football team a leader going into the summer. After the evaluation of our spring drills, our spring practices, all 15 practices that we've had, I've named Brock Berlin as our number-one quarterback going into the summer.

"In saying that, I've been very impressed with both players. Brock, having had very little time in the offense, has really made tremendous strides in the offense. I think the same thing with Derrick. I've really seen Derrick come miles. I think we can win with both of those players on our football team at quarterback. I think Derrick, with the consistency that he was showing in the Orange Bowl (at the Spring Game on April 5), I think there's a lot of positives, so I definitely think that we can win with both players. I think with the evaluation that we've had, the thorough evaluation that we had in the spring, we felt like Brock Berlin should go into the summer as our first quarterback. Not etched in stone, not a lifetime appointment, it's something that, again, it's a very competitive university. We expect to have a tremendous football team. I've seen these quarterbacks and you have, too. I've seen Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, and Vinnie Testaverde . . . I believe all three of those players were here at the same time. Pretty competitive situation.

"I think what you'll see is both quarterbacks compete. I think you'll see great leadership from both players. I think Brock is definitely going to give us that. I think that's a strong suit he has, his leadership ability. I think that you'll see that we need both players to be as good as we hope for them to be."

On whether or not the players as a whole rallied around one quarterback or the other
"I did ask a few opinions, but I don't think that would be fair to the players. It needed to be my decision with the coaches. That's not fair (to the players). I think they have really garnered a lot of respect for Derrick as he really improved and the work ethic that he displayed and I think Brock, the year that he had with the scout team, they really gained a lot of respect for his ability, the things that he could do with the football, as well as his leadership."

On how close the quarterback decision was
"I think you have to make the decision for the right reason because what happens sometimes is you really think something and you have a perception of something but as you break it down, you may not have the actual facts. I think we wanted to make sure that we had the actual facts, so we took statistics as we went through the spring, with coach (Rob) Chudzinski (offensive coordinator) and coach (Dan) Werner (quarterbacks coach), and we went through all the video from the spring just to double check and make sure and statistically chart out what was done good and what was completed during the spring.

"I wasn't pretty sure about it. That's why I wanted to go back through all the video from the spring. Again, I didn't want to do anything just from a gut feeling or a perception. I wanted to actually see what it is. I don't think you make a decision just on, 'Hey, these are the facts.' And, 'He has one more completion or one less completion, you're the guy'. I think there's some of those intangible qualities that are hard to measure, like leadership and all of those things, that you see when a throw is made and the game's on the line. More than just exact statistics."

On whether or not the decision is final
"As I said earlier, this is not an 'etched in stone' situation. Last year, I think you could probably see that Ken Dorsey was probably going to be our quarterback and it would have been very difficult to beat him out. But, as I said before, this is a very competitive university and I think we're getting better. I think as a team we're getting better. And I think our players are better at almost every position. I think that makes it competitive and that makes it difficult to get on the field. It makes my decisions difficult. When we were here on probation and we had 50 players on scholarship, it was pretty easy. You took the one who was healthy and go play. But now, where we've built the program back up and we have excellent talent, it makes it more competitive and it does make my job tougher."

On the reaction from each player and from the team
"There were two reasons that I did this. I wanted to be able to tell the whole team. This will probably be one of the last team meetings we'll be able to have because there are going to be finals (final exams). Some will be going home. So I though it would be very important that I tell the players. I'm talking about Derrick and Brock. I talked to them individually, then I talked to the team. I wanted them to hear it from me and understand my rationale. Again, also, hearing that like all of the positions on the team, that it's competitive and that it will be competitive in the fall."

On the players' reactions
"Obviously, Brock was classy, he was pleased. Derrick was very, very disappointed and I would have been surprised if he wasn't disappointed. Because he's invested a lot and he's improved a lot. But that's what I wanted him to know also. That it's not that he can't work and still be an important factor on this football team."

On the influence of other personnel, specifically receivers
"I think one of things that you don't want to do is penalize a quarterback when he makes a great throw and someone drops a pass. You are penalized in the stats, as you know, because that's an incompletion. We didn't want to do that in our evaluation of the quarterbacks. There are several things that we didn't want to (influence the decision), such as we have a poor offensive lineman, maybe a third-team offensive lineman, and you didn't get a pass off. We tried, especially as the spring progressed to make sure Brock and Derrick had as many reps with the best players we had."

On where Berlin excels
"I think leadership is the preeminent thing that he's excelled at. Not just in the spring, but in the entire time that he's been here. His poise, I think, his learning of the offense, his handling of the offense, I think, has gotten progressively better. Again, something that you have to realize is that he's only been in the offense 15 days (of practice with the first team). We're not the most complicated offense in football, but we do a lot of things. We do a lot of movement. It's developed and become a very complicated offense from the standpoint of when Ken Dorsey first started this thing and what it's progressed into now. It's not an easy thing to do."

On whether or not the fact that Berlin had started at Florida influenced Coker's decision
"It was a factor I think that separated Brock and Derrick from the younger players. It really wasn't a factor in any decision that was made (between the two). It probably should have been because they're both older players. Brock has been in the fire, Derrick has been in the fire. He's played in not so much of a major role, obviously, Brock started in the Orange Bowl (game) here, what was it two years ago, three years ago, whenever it was, but that really wasn't that big of a factor. We wanted to see what he would do here with this team."

On how Coker's decision affects the players
"I think it makes it a lot easier for Brock. When I say easier, I mean more defined, obviously. I think it makes it now tougher for Derrick today. Now, I think what you'll find is that he's (Derrick) going into this thing and deals with it. I think he'll move through it and I think it will be a decision that he'll deal with. But I think that for our football team that it will make us a better football team."

On whether Crudup will transfer
"I don't think so. I think he'll choose to compete."

On difficulty of the decision
"It was difficult because Derrick did really step it up. Sort of a huge plus for him. Everybody assumed that Brock would sort of just step in, but why would they assume that? He'd never taken one snap with this football team. There's a process. You've got to learn the offense and you've got to know your players. You don't just step on the field and after two practices or three practices you're a great quarterback. So I think the assumption might have been there, but it certainly wasn't from the coaches."

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