Not Taking Things Sitting Down

After two major knee injuries, Frank Gore doesn't have to worry about being pushed by anybody at the University of Miami. The only problem the Hurricanes' coaching staff faces is trying to put the brakes on the junior running back.

Despite admitting he's not fully recovered, Gore, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against West Virginia last October, his second in as many years, is eyeing the Sept. 6 season-opener against Florida State in the Orange Bowl for his return to the football field.

"I've worked to hard for it not to happen," says Gore, who has beefed up to 220 pounds. "I feel stronger and faster now than before the injuries. I'm taking it easy, but I know I can help this team right now."

If the season were to start today, he would probably be used as a reserve, but Gore has shown signs that he could be ready for a bigger role. The former Coral Gables standout opened some eyes with a 60-yard burst during a recent scrimmage, but it was his overall speed and ability to change direction that encouraged UM coach Larry Coker.

"He looks more confident the way he's running the ball than after the first injury," said Coker. "Unless there's something we don't expect he should be ready to go against FSU."

Gore, who sat out the entire 2002 season recovering a torn ACL, compiled 468 rushing yards in over four games last season before going down against the Mountaineers. His return would give the Hurricanes much needed help in the backfield.

"Coach Coker and everybody here is taking it easy on me and I can understand that," says Gore, who as a freshman rushed for 562 yards on 62 carries, averaging the second-best per carry average (9.1) in school history. "But I'm just pushing myself more each day. I'm not 100 percent yet, but there's plenty of time for me to shoot for the Florida State game."

As expected Gore has experienced some soreness in his knee since the start of camp. Coker has already stated that Gore would only practice once during two-a-days for the rest of the fall.

If deemed healthy enough it's no secret that Gore would love to start the opener Sept. 6 against the Seminoles. He's already indicated his wishes on several occasions during camp, adding that if not for the injuries there would be no debate as to whom the starting tailback should be.

"It's not like I did anything wrong - I got hurt," says Gore. "I've put in a lot of hard work and been wanting to get back out there for a while."

Sophomore Tyrone Moss might have other ideas. After rushing for 511 yards and five touchdowns last season, Moss, who has been slowed by a sore shoulder of late, is also set on locking down the starter's role. Moss' combination of breakaway speed and tough running between the tackles has endured him to the coaching staff.

"I'm just taking this thing day-by-day. I'm not going to put any pressure on myself," says Moss. "I'm not going to say I should start - that's a coaches' decision that will eventually be made."

"The thing about Tyrone is that you know he can get you two or three yards in the trenches, but he can also hit a home run (break free for a long run)," says Coker. "This definitely is a nice problem to have."

While Moss, who averaged 4.8 yards a carry and did not fumble in 11 games, wants to stay clear of any controversy regarding playing time, he intends to secure his share of the load whether Gore is ready or not by Sept. 6.

"The bottom line is making sure Frank and I stay healthy and help our team win football games," says Moss. "But after last season I'm confident that I can get the job done no matter what the coaches' plans are. I'm ready to prove myself all over again."

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