Coker, Harris Trade Compliments

UM coach Larry Coker and Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris were apparently in a giving mood Monday morning during the Big East coaches teleconference. Both Coker and Harris spent a good portion of the phone conversation doing nothing else but complimenting each other's teams.

Coker was asked on how his team would handle traveling up to Pittsburgh after a 19-day layoff-the same place where the Hurricanes were defeated 21-17 in 1997.

"They've been quite a challenge for us in the past and I don't expect anything different. We have a great amount of respect for them," Coker said.

Coker still remembers that glommy Thursday night five years ago when the Hurricanes were upset by the Panthers.

"They were well prepared and ready to play in all aspects of the game," Coker said.

Harris said the Hurricanes look like 'an outstanding football team' and that Pittsburgh would have a 'major' challenge ahead of them.

Harris would not bring up the Panthers victory over Miami five years ago. With most players from that team no longer around, Harris felt it would be unnecessary.

"We've talked very little about it," Harris said. "This is a different football team and we're getting ready to measure ourselves with a great Miami football team. If that isn't enough to motivate them I don't know what is. We need to execute that is the most important thing. If we don't execute all the excitement doesn't mean a thing."

THERE HE IS

Miami Northwestern standout Jovanny Ward hasn't participated in the two games the Panthers have played, but is currently practicing with the team and is officially enrolled in school.

Ward, a freshman defensive back, was expected to play for the Hurricanes but never appeared in uniform for Miami because of failure to qualify academically.

A Panthers official said that Ward would continue to practice with the team although a decision on whether he will play this season has not been made.

"That's up to Coach Harris," said the Pittsburgh official, referring to Panthers coach Walt Harris.

ANTONIO'S ANKLE

Pittsburgh senior Antonio Bryant, the 2000 Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's top receiver, is still questionable for the contest against Miami.

Bryant, an All-American and Miami Northwestern graduate, has missed most of the season with a left ankle sprain suffered in the first quarter of Pitt's season-opener. Asked earlier this week about Bryant's status for the game, Harris was non-committal.

"He's not 100 percent. Not yet, anyway," said Harris, who watched Bryant practice and limp off the field earlier in the week. "We'll have to wait and see. We don't want to put anybody out there who we don't feel is 100 percent."

"He feels that he's 100 percent, but he does not admit that he's not , so we want to make sure that we make a wise decision because his kind of injury is a nagging injury. In the meantime we've had some other good football players step up and play well for us."

Bryant, who caught 68 passes and totaled 1,302 yards last season, said earlier in the week he was nearing 100 percent.

"It feels a little smoother than last week. Hopefully I'll be able to play," said Bryant. "Whenever it is that I get to play you guys will see the real Antonio Bryant."

Bryant has been the subject of several off the field problems n the last year. First, Bryant was charged with disorderly conduct after confront campus police over a parking ticket. He ended up with community service.

In the spring, Bryant was sent home from practice on two seperate occasions from practice. He was suspended after engaging in a wrestling match with several teammates during the final days of spring drills.

Most recently, Bryant was charged with theft after apparently buying a plane ticket with a stolen credit card. The charges were dropped after it was determined the purchase was made by somebody else.

"I've learned a lot," Bryant said. "I'm a different person. I'm much more humble."

BEING CAUTIOUS?

UM defensive back Phillip Buchanon will most likely be used as a punt returner for the second straight game. Coker said although senior Daryl Jones appears healthy from a knee sprain that Buchanon would remain the punt returner. Jones suffered the injury in the opener vs. Penn State.

STICKING OUT

With their most recent victory, 61-0 over Rutgers and Greg Schiano, the Hurricanes have won 28 of their last 29 games against first-year coaches. The lone exception? UM had a 23-game winning streak against rookie coaches snapped by Walt Harris in Pittsburgh Sept. 18, 1997. The Panthers defeated Miami 21-17.

HOME GROWN

Harris and his coaching staff have dug into South Florida for a slew of talent. Aside from Ward and Antonio Bryant, there are several other Panthers players from the state of Florida, including three from South Florida on their roster; 6-1, 170-pound freshman Roosevelt Bynes (Piper High, Ft. Lauderdale); junior defensive back Torrie Cox (Northwestern High, Miami); Freshman offensive lineman Woodly Telfort (North Miami High, Miami); freshman Joe Stephens (Armwood High, Tampa)

ONE-SIDED

Miami has a 18-9-1 record all-time against Pittsburgh, including a 7-1 mark since the start of Big East play in 1993. Miami has putscored Pitt 106-20 in their three meetings. Miami is 9-5 all-time in road games against the Panthers

GOOD NIGHT

The Canes are 26-7 on ESPN and 4-1 in Thursday night games. The Hurricanes only loss was at Pittsburgh in 1997. UM's Thursday night wins; 61-14 McNeese State (8/31/00); 38-10 Pittsburgh (11/19/98); 33-0 Rutgers (9/12/96); 40-10 Houston (9/21/91)

GOOD MEMORIES

Current Miami Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski (1988-90) and defensive coordinator Randy Shannon (1985-88), along with assistants Greg Mark (86-89) and Rod Holder (86-89), compiled a 7-0 record as Hurricanes players against Pittsburgh.

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