Berlin Has Teammates' Trust

It wasn't long ago that Brock Berlin's status as starting quarterback at the University of Miami was uncertain. Coming off a junior season, his first with the Hurricanes, in which a tendency to throw ill-advised passes and turn the ball over drew the ire of coaches and fans alike, Berlin wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms this summer.

With UM coach Larry Coker publicly pleading with Berlin to show marked improvement and fans calling for the insertion of highly-regarded Kyle Wright there was no telling how Berlin would perform once the season started. Everywhere he looked Berlin was targeted as the key if the Hurricanes were going to be a serious national title contender.

But after five games Berlin has silenced most of his critics, while continuing to earn plenty of respect from his teammates.

Although it's just the first installment the Hurricanes (5-0, 2-0), who play at North Carolina State (4-2, 3-1) Saturday night in the first of consecutive conference road games, are in position for a title run after being ranked second - .9187 - behind USC in the Bowl Championship Series standings, released Monday.

A position the Hurricanes might not be in without the much maligned Berlin.

The senior signal-caller has already had a big hand in two come-from-behind wins for the Hurricanes this season, including last Thursday night in the Orange Bowl when Berlin engineered a second half rally to erase a 17-point deficit and Miami held off then No. 17 Louisville 41-38.

After being plagued by some of the same mistakes that has made him an easy target in the past during the game's first half, Berlin rebounded to complete 16-of-21 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns in the final 30 minutes to spearhead a fierce rally by the Hurricanes.

Struggling to fend off a Louisville defense that blitzed at will in the early going, Berlin had his way operating the offense from the shotgun. The Hurricanes scored on every possession of the second half as Berlin misfired on just two of his 14 passes in the third quarter.

In the season opener against Florida State, Berlin marched the Hurricanes 80 yards in the final 1:22 of regulation to send the game into overtime. UM running back Frank Gore scored on a 18-yard run to give the Hurricanes a 16-10 victory over the Seminoles.

Nobody can explain Berlin's ability to move the Hurricanes offense in the latter stages of games, but those who share the field with him appreciate Berlin's calm under pressure. No matter the deficit, Berlin seem to cherish the opportunity of rallying the Hurricanes. And his teammates have taken notice.

"Brock is just so tough-minded," said Miami receiver Lance Leggett. "He just seems to enjoy those kinds of situations."

"It's a lot of fun to be able to come back and make plays," said Berlin. "But I can't explain the success we've had in the two-minute offense. I just feel good running it I guess."

That wasn't always the case last season. Despite the Hurricanes finishing 11-2 last season, including a bowl game victory over the Seminoles, Berlin took the brunt of the blame after committing costly turnovers that resulted in losses to Virginia Tech and Tennessee.

Berlin's inability to avoid the pass rush and make smart decisions with the ball became topics of discussion on talk radio, the internet and print media. He was benched for the start of the Syracuse game in mid-November before helping the Hurricanes clinch the Big East title with a victory over Pittsburgh.

For all the criticism he's endured Berlin is 15-2 as UM's starting quarterback and has led the Hurricanes back from a fourth-quarter deficit five times in his career. But the former Gator isn't concerned with the events of the past - he's got unfinished business.

"This isn't about me or anybody else. This is abut our team trying to win a championship," says Berlin. "We have a bunch of guys that never give up and just keep fighting. You can't ask for anymore than that.

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