Coker: "We can't lose focus"

It wouldn't be too hard to blame the University of Miami football team if they aren't completely charged up for the task of playing Troy State Saturday, Oct. 6, in the Orange Bowl.

The Hurricanes, ranked No. 1 in both major polls, are 53 points favorites to dispose of the Trojans and are coming off three straight convincing victories.

And there is something else that just might have the Hurricanes diverting their attention on Saturday: a national championship-implications matchup against Florida State awaits the Canes next week in Tallahassee.

Miami head coach Larry Coker is banking that his team will not be looking ahead to their contest against the Seminoles. Instead, Coker is confident Miami will be entirely focused on Troy State for 60 minutes on Saturday.

"We've worked real hard as a coaching staff to keep the players ready, focused and make them aware of the task at hand," Coker said. "I feel real good about the attitude and character of this football team. Its like a business to them. They take it one game at a time. They know if they don't beat Troy State, the Florida State doesn't mean much"

Coker has constantly used the same Seminoles as an example for his own players-Florida State was stunned by North Carolina 41-9 several weeks ago dropping them out of the top ten in both polls.

"You can't just roll the ball out there and expect to win," Coker said. "I don't care what team it is. If you don't bring your 'A' game your not going to win.

Troy State has qualified for the Division I-AA playoffs in seven of their eight years of eligibility, advancing to the semifinals in 1993 and 1996. The Trojans, in their first year as an independent, won three of five Southland league titles, including last year's. Troy State captured national titles in 1984 and 1987 as a Division II team.

"They are a very athletic team and posses a lot of speed," Coker said. "They won't be shaking in their boots about having to come to the Orange Bowl."

The Trojans opened the season Sept. 1 at Nebraska losing 42-14. Troy State trailed at the half 14-7.

FILLING THE GAP

Coker said earlier in the week that sophomore Jarrell Weaver could step in at the starting weak-side linebacker spot against Troy State in place of D.J. Williams, although he had not decided who would start.

Williams was assisted off the field in the first quarter of Miami's victory over Pittsburgh with a left ankle injury.

Williams was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain.It was Weaver who replaced Williams, who did not return to the game. Junior Howard Clark will most likely also see plenty of action in Saturday's game.

"I think Howard is in the mix," Coker said. "Howard has worked a lot at middle linebacker. There is a good possibility that Howard will see plenty of action. Who will start? He don't know."

IN THE TROPHY CASE

UM running back Clinton Portis was named Big East Conference co-offensive Player of the Week on Monday. The 5-11, 195-pounder rushed for 131 yards and three touchdowns in UM's 43-21 victory over Pittsburgh last week.

Portis, who shared the honor with Syracuse quarterback Troy Nunes-17-of-27, 296 yards, four touchdowns vs. East Carolina, leads the Hurricanes in rushing this season with

RALLYING

UM fans are invited to take part in a football pep rally on the Rock at noon this Friday, Oct. 5th. The school band, cheerleaders, Ibis and selected players will be in attendance. It is also parent's weekend.

STREAKING

Miami enters the Troy State match-up on a 13-game winning streak, second nationally to Oklahoma's 17, and has won 18 of 19 dating back to 1999. Miami also has an 11-game winning streak at the Orange Bowl, there best since winning 12 from 1994-96.

In addition, Miami is two victories shy of Virginia Tech's 14 straight Big East wins.

ITS A FIRST

The Hurricanes have never faced Troy State. UM owns a 86-58-2 all-time record in series openers against 146 opponents. Miami is 14-1 at the OB in series openers since 1980. The lone loss? 1994 to Washington.

ON THE AIR

UM-Troy State will be broadcast live on ESPN Regional. The game will be on Fox Sports Net, Monday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m.

STILL NO. 1

With their easy win over Pittsburgh, the Hurricanes remained ranked No. 1 in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls. Miami leads No. 2 Florida by 19 votes in the AP ranking (1,744 to 1,725) and has a 22 vote margin (1,458 to 1,436) over the Gators in the coaches poll.

The Hurricanes have been ranked No. 1 in the AP four straight weeks. Miami received 34 first-place votes from the AP and 35 from coaches in the respective polls.

The top five teams in both polls are the same-Miami, Florida, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas. Oklahoma, who survived a narrow 38-37 victory over Kansas State, had nine first-place votes and 1,648 points in the AP poll. The Sooners play No. 5 Texas this coming Saturday in Dallas.

Georgia Tech took the biggest hit in the AP poll dropping eight spots to No. 17 after its 47-44 overtime defeat to Clemson. Tennessee, with a 26-18 win over LSU, moved up to No. 6 in the AP. The Vols are followed by No. 7 Oregon, No. 8 Virginia Tech, No. 9 UCLA and No. 10 Fresno State.

Stanford and Maryland, known for their success in basketball, were among four newcomers in the coaches poll. The 24th ranked Cardinal (3-0) and No. 25 Terrapins (4-0), in the poll for the first time this season, are joined by No. 22 Texas A&M (4-0) and No. 23 Toledo (4-0).

Rounding out the top ten in the coaches poll were No. 6 Virginia Tech (4-0), No. 7 Tennessee (3-0), No. 8 Oregon (4-0), UCLA (4-0) and No. 10 Washington (3-0).

Dropped from the rankings this week were Oregon State, Mississippi State, Illonois and Michigan State.

STRONG NO. 1

Miami is 23-5 all-time as the top-ranked team. Prior to losing in the 1993 Sugar Bowl to Alabama, Miami had won 11 straight games when it held the top spots in both polls dating back to the 1991 season.

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