Coker Game Week Quotes

Head Coach Larry Coker answered questions Monday about the preparation for #17 Louisville. The questions ranged from the struggles of the offensive line to how well the defense has performed. Miami takes on Louisville this Thursday night on ESPN (7:30).

Opening thoughts on Louisville

I think they are a top 10 team in every statistical category offensively and defensively. They are good on both sides of the ball. They are balanced on offense and they run the ball well. They have 3 running backs that they'll use, keeping everybody fresh. They also pass the ball very well, so it's going to be a tremendous challenge for our football team. Things have been encouraging (on offense), I continue to see our offensive team get better and improving.

On offensive line coming together without Winston …

The offensive line as a group has to raise their level and play better to make up for that loss (Winston). I think they have taken that (struggles) personal and I think you will see a better group with the entire offensive line. But to say we are going to replace Eric Winston, that is not the case. That is going to be a very difficult thing to do.

How optimistic are you with Rashad Butler's play …

I'm very optimistic. He practiced yesterday and practiced well. Yesterday was actually a full pad physical day for us, it was actually a Tuesday type format and it can get confusing (the practice schedule), but he practiced well yesterday.

Did Meriweather practice yesterday?

Yes he did, and that was encouraging. He practiced well yesterday and I was surprised by how well he did practice and how well he got around.

On the offensive line protection and struggles …

It's tough (on the team) to give up sacks, you're better off having a penalty, because with a penalty you get the down over, and with a sack you have the minus yardage and you lose the down. A sack is very costly. Negative plays really hurt your football team. I think there is no doubt there is extra emphasis on protection with our backs. Some of the sacks were from backup offensive linemen. Certainly that (the protection) is something we need to address and get better with.

On Rashad Butler's Strengths …

He is smart and he is very athletic. I think that the extra week helped with getting him accustomed to the left side. Rashad is very athletic, very smart, and he has some experience. I think those are nice qualities to have. He played a lot last year in the Orange Bowl game and he felt good about being in there, he wasn't intimidated by the challenge, and he will do very well. Brandon Sebald would be the first person to move in at tackle (behind Butler).

On the confidence the offense now has …

When you do it here (during practice), it carries over on Saturday. We have to do it in practice, we have to see it. Now you get the confidence and feel of success. It all carries over, guys are much more confident.

On Lance Leggett's progression this season …

I think he is going to be an exceptional player for us. He has great speed and has nice height. He is of course not as physical as he will be, but after a year with Andrew he will be a different looking guy. He is certainly talented and you definitely feel like he is a starting receiver.

Why is Miami's secondary always one of the top in the nation?

We have been in this type of scheme now for four years. I think the players are getting more comfortable with it. Basically it's a scheme where hopefully we make you hold the ball, and if you hold the ball it allows the time for blitzes, and the time for the rush to pressure the quarterback. If you haven't seen it (our defense) it is difficult. You get thrown out of your rhythm, you don't get in your route and everything is taken out of timing. That is what we have been able to do for the most part this season. We aren't getting a tremendous amount of sacks, but a guy like Orien Harris is putting tremendous pressure on the quarterback, which results in an interception, or an errant throw.

Is there added pressure on the linebackers this week?

They have 3 backs who have been doing it (running the ball). It's not like we are just going to wear one guy out, they have 3 good backs. I think it also puts more pressure on the defense because they (Louisville) are not one dimensional they can run and pass. When you can do both, it does put a lot of pressure on your team.

Explain different styles of opposing quarterbacks …

I think the older quarterback is a little bit more mobile, but the younger quarterback Brohm was one of the most highly recruited quarterbacks in the country.

Is Ryan Moore available for Louisville?

I'd say doubtful at this time.

Will Kyle Wright play?

We'll probably make a later decision on that. I would like to play Kyle. I don't know if it is the second series, third series, or where it might be. I would definitely like to get him some time in the first half.

On Miami's 1-2 punch at running back …

I like it. I like it because it energizes each of them (Moss and Gore). It makes each of them ready to play and it will hopefully keep both of them healthy. They are very similar styles and capable. It's not like there is a big drop off when you take one out. Frank had the hotter hand against Tech. That is probably the way we will do it (distribute the ball) the rest of the year. They really complement each other well and they like what we are doing.

Is Louisville that good or are they playing weak competition?

Well, they played Kentucky which is a rivalry game for them and they beat North Carolina who just beat NC State. So they have played a couple of name teams. I don't know how good those teams are, but I know that Louisville is winning the games convincingly. When they play they leave no doubt who the better team is.

Will Leon Williams be starting at Middle Linebacker?

We haven't made that decision yet. It depends on what personnel we will be using. We are going to play Leon, Beason, Rocky there. It's a nice problem to have, we can play all those guys and we'll evaluate it throughout the week.

What is different about Louisville's defense this year?

I thought they struggled some on defense last year, but they are playing good defense this year. I think the difference is a little bit more pressure and experience (this year). They are not giving up a lot of big plays.

How do big plays help the offense?

It breaks the game open. It really separates you. That is what happened at Georgia Tech. In the Georgia Tech game, without the two big plays, it is probably going to be a close game. Plus, it took Georgia Tech out of their game, now (with the big plays) they are coming from behind and this puts the pressure on them. It is very hard to have long drives with many plays because of the mistakes the offense will make.

On speculation of Eric Winston turning pro …

Well I would be surprised if he did. I have talked to him since the surgery and I don't think there are any plans of him turning pro. His plans are to come back here, get involved in spring practice, probably not padded up and playing, but getting himself ready to play in the fall. He has only played one year in the offensive line, so it would be a plus to stay another year. I think it would be good for him to stay and develop and get more polished as an offensive lineman.

Are you surprised at how good the defense is?

After I saw fall practice I want to say no. You lose guys like Vince Wilfork, Sean Taylor, Jonathon Vilma, and DJ Williams. Those guys are hard to replace. I think the defense took the attitude that we are not young. We had some guys that haven't played a lot, but we try to equate to a D.J. Williams and Jonathan Vilma, who started as sophomores, won a national championship. So mildly surprised, I would say yes.

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