Back to work for UM players

Under the watchful eyes of head coach Larry Coker and several Metro-Dade police officers, the top-ranked University of Miami Hurricanes set their sights on the Pittsburgh Panthers with a two hour practice at Greentree Field, Tuesday afternoon.

The Hurricanes, who were given off Saturday, Sunday and Monday, worked in full pads in an effort to return to a normal schedule after last week's events throughout the country.

Coker said his most daunting task at the moment would be to get all the players focused on football.

"You're not human if what happened in this country a week ago doesn't bother you one way or the other, but everything goes on," Coker said.

"As a coaching staff, we need to make sure none of our guys are hanging out in the malls or in the movies and staying out of football. They have to understand their focus needs to be on the Pittsburgh Panthers."

Hurricanes offensive tackle Sherko Haji-Rasouli, an Iranian native, said he hasn't been subjected to any sort of retaliation as a result of the terrorist attacks in the United States. Although he is not optimistic, Rasouli is hoping the current events bring about a change in the way some people view things.

"There is still so much hate and stupidity going on in the world," Rasouli said. "There is a lot of people filled with anger and confusion that really don't know how to express their feelings about what happened. I pray that this will make us stronger as a whole and our country a better place to live in."


Despite having a conversation with Coker in which he was informed that the Hurricanes would 'most definitely redshirt him after the next game, freshman quarterback Buck Ortega is still trying to absorb plenty of information while he can.

Ortega, who was one of seven UM freshmen to travel to Penn State, hasn't lost sight of starting quarterback Ken Dorsey since arriving this fall. The Gulliver Prep standout has spent time studying Dorsey on and off the field. And hopes that his paying attention to such detail will benefit him in the future.

"I'm trying my best to feed off all that stuff. Why not," said Ortega. "Kenny is a perfectionist with everything he does and just doesn't stop working."

Ortega has no gripes about being redshirted. Instead, he will be taking a lot notes on the sidelines. His main concerns are to improve his mechanics to where he feels comfortable and learn the Hurricanes offense.

"I think it's going to be a great advantage to sit and watch," Ortega said. "I will be looking for things in our offense and maybe I can sniff out some of the defenses that teams will be throwing at us as well."


Freshman Frank Gore came to UM earlier in the fall with a lot of expectations riding on his back. But not to many people thought the Gables High grad would take off right away.

Not this fast, anyway

Gore, who has played in both Miami games this season, led all rushers with 78 yards on six carries and scored his first career touchdown on a 10-yard run in the Hurricanes 61-0 victory over Rutgers.

Not bad for a first-year players sharing the backfield with Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Najeh Davenport and Jarrett Payton. Even Gore has expressed surprise on how quickly he was involved in game situations.

"I'm very surprised that the Hurricanes had enough faith in me to put me in so quick, especially with all the great backs we have on the team," Gore. "It has helped me gain a lot more confidence."

Gore has been able to sharpen his blocking ability, learn defensive tendencies and become a little quicker through work with the rest of the running backs corp.

"I'm not comfortable yet," Gore said. "I still have a lot to learn to become the player I want to be."


Senior offensive tackle Joaquin Gonzalez is one of 11 players selected to the 2001 AFCA Good Works Team, in recognition of his outstanding community service in South Florida.

Gonzalez, a 2000 First-team All-American, is the fourth UM player to earn a spot on the team since 1996. Past UM players placed on the team included Nate Brooks (1998), Ryan Clement (1997) and Tony Coley (1996).

Gonzalez is involved with a slew of charitable organizations in Miami including First Mentors, a Big Brothers/Big Sisters partnership, and the Read to Win program, working with elementary students.

"It says a lot about the character of these young men that they can find the time to devote themselves to the community," said AFCA Executive Director Grant Teaff.

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