Same Emotion, Less Flags

The University of Miami football team had reason to celebrate after producing the largest come-from-behind home victory ever at the Orange Bowl against Florida last Saturday. But while he doesn't have a problem with players displaying an overabundance of emotion on the field, UM coach Larry Coker has warned the Hurricanes about being smart in the process.

Despite the Hurricanes' 28 unanswered second half points to get past the Gators, Miami was penalized 16 times for 134 yards, including three times for unsportsmanlike penalties. As it turned out, none of the overzealous infractions cost the Hurricanes the win but Coker wants to alleviate the situation before it becomes a serious problem.

"We talked about it in our Sunday meetings. We just can't do that. Those are violations. They are penalties. The referees are going to call that," said Coker as the No. 2 Hurricanes (2-0) make final preparations to host East Carolina (0-2) Saturday night at 7 p.m. (ESPN 2). "One of the things the officials don't want is for the emotion to get out of hand."

The Hurricanes were called for excessive celebrations, costing the team 30 yards, after two of their five touchdowns, one coming 13 seconds into the game. Coker said that while the officials – from the SEC in this case - did their jobs in controlling such a ‘high energy' situation in a game that involved heated rivals in the Hurricanes and Gators. But Coker added that the officials might have been a little too quick – or not quick enough - with the flags in some cases.

Freshman Devin Hester was penalized for upsportsmanlike conduct after returning the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. With the OB crowd roaring its approval, Hester started unstrapping his helmet at the Florida three-yard-line before reaching the end zone. Once he reached the end zone Hester took off his helmet off and stared into the crowd.

"I just think that it was a situation where he got caught up in the moment," said UM senior receiver Kevin Beard. "It was the start of the game and everybody was charged up. You can't get on the kid too much for that."

UM red-shirt freshman receiver Ryan Moore was penalized for taking a bow in the left corner of the end zone after scoring on a six-yard pass from quarterback Brock Berlin that shaved the Hurricanes deficit to 33-32 with 11:08 remaining in the fourth quarter. Although Coker knew that Moore's actions would cost the Hurricanes he did not think it should have been called.

"I knew the bow with Ryan was going to be called," said Coker. "I don't think it should have been called because he didn't take his helmet off or anything. It's obvious that the officials are going to call it. "

"Well, if you go by the letter of the law he should have been penalized and he was. But if I was an official why would I call that a penalty? He bowed to the crowd. Its not like it was directed to the other team."

Said Moore: "It wasn't planned or anything but you won't see in again. No more."

But even if the officials are not going to show any leniency on excessive celebration calls Coker would like to see some balance on both sides of the spectrum.

While showing no hesitation to penalize Moore, the officials did not flag Florida for what Coker thought was a little too much partying after a defensive score in the second quarter. That's when UF defensive back Keiwan Ratliff, along with several teammates, high-stepped into the end zone after returning a loose fumble. A couple of the players also taunted Berlin as he walked off the field.

"You had Florida guys high-stepping into the end zone and taunting Brock. That should have been a penalty in my view," said Coker. "I think you're going to always get some calls, and some you don't agree with."

Miami starting center Joel Rodriguez enjoyed the zest that his teammates showed during the Florida game.

"This is an emotional game. If you go through the motions bad things are going to happen," said Rodriguez. "And like all you guys saw, something bad almost happened."

Coker knows that no matter what he says it's always hard for players to refrain from showing their emotions, especially the young ones who are experiencing such moments for the very time at the collegiate level. In fact Coker would like for the team to bring out the same kind of emotion they showed during the second half rally against Florida.

But Coker maintains the Hurricanes have to smart in doing so.

"There's nothing wrong with playing with emotion," Coker said. "We just have to be smart about it."

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