Yellow Flags Still A Problem

It's still too early in the season to determine the true identity of the University of Miami football team especially with an offense that has a habit of sputtering at times and a defense that is occasionally soft when it comes to stopping the run. But being regarded as an undisciplined squad is a strong possibility.

Despite a No. 2 ranking in the polls and an unblemished 7-0 record the Hurricanes have been unable to avoid the yellow laundry through the first month and a half of the season.

The Hurricanes, averaging 84.3 yards in penalties through seven games, have been called for 74 penalties totaling 590 yards, the most in the Big East Conference. And that was the case again during last Saturday's 52-14 victory over the Temple Owls as the Hurricanes were hit with 12 penalties for 102 yards, including three in the first six minutes of the game.

Hard to believe considering this is a team still in National Title contention.

"We can't afford to have all those penalties because sooner or later they're going to come back at us," Hurricanes coach Larry Coker said. "They are momentum stoppers. They interrupt the flow of the game and what we're trying to accomplish. We just can't have them and expect to just move on."

UM has been called for 22 penalties in the last two games as they continue to wipe out opportunities on both sides of the ball with untimely infractions. And the Hurricanes were doing nothing out of the ordinary early in the first quarter against Temple.

After apparently forcing at worse a field goal attempt as a result of limiting the Owls to three downs and out inside their own territory, Hurricanes defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was called for a personal foul after putting a late hit on Owls quarterback Mike McGann. The play cost the Hurricanes 15 yards, while giving the Owls a first down on UM's 13-yard-line. Five plays later the Owls had a 7-0 lead and their first of two touchdowns on the day. UM was also called for offsides on a fourth and-four punt attempt four plays into the game. Hurricanes junior Antrel Rolle then fumbled Temple's second punt attempt. Offensively Miami was whistled for three holding penalties in the first half alone.

"It's like ‘oh no, here we go again'," said Coker. "We have to do a better job of eliminating mental mistakes."

In the win at Florida State Oct. 11, the Hurricanes were penalized four times in the first 16 minutes of the game, including twice for offensive holding, while being flagged twice – in first five possessions of the game- against West Virginia earlier this month.

"It's just one of those things," said UM senior linebacker Jonathan Vilma. "We certainly can't have them against really good teams."

Aside from the penalties the Hurricanes were pretty solid in a number of areas. The Hurricanes offense, which compiled over 600 yards against the Owls, scored seven times in the red zone, while avoiding any turnovers. UM starting quarterback Brock Berlin, who was 16-of-26 passing for 187 yards and two touchdowns, did not throw an interception in a game for the first time all season. Senior running back Jarrett Payton, starting in his second consecutive game in place of injured Frank Gore, had a career-high 115 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Payton left the game late in the first quarter because of low blood sugar before being reinserted.

The Hurricanes secondary, playing without junior free safety Sean Taylor, held the Owls to 21 yards passing and one third-down conversion. The Owls entered the game with the top-ranked passing offense in the Big East.

"I thought the defensive effort was outstanding," Coker said. "It was nice to see a lot of guys contribute the way they did."

AWARDED: Vilma was named the Co-Defensive Player of the Week in the Big East after producing a team-high eight tackles and a fumble recovery against Temple. Miami kicker Jon Peattie, who was 1-of-2 in field goal attempts, leads the Big East with 66 points, including 24-of-24 PAT (point after attempts) and 14 –of-17 made field goals. Peattie is averaging 9.4 points per game.

BCS TALK: The inaugural Bowl Championship Standings were released last night with the 7-0 Oklahoma Sooners No. 1 followed by Miami and Virginia Tech, who will face each other on Nov. 1.

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