Coker: "It's time to get started"

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Larry Coker held a pre-fall practice press conference earlier this week. "It's time to get started for a new season," he said. And he's right. Forget about the back-to-back 9-3 seasons and the loss to LSU in the Peach Bowl, the 2006 season is just around the corner.

TEAM REPORTS ON SUNDAY

The 2006 University of Miami football team will report on Sunday, August 6 with practice beginning on August 7.

All practices will be closed to the public. The team will practice for the first 14 days without a day off.

The first day in pads is August 11.

The majority of practices in August will be held in the morning to prevent practices from being cancelled due to weather.

School starts on August 23.

COACHES POLL

The preseason coaches poll was announced earlier today and Miami was ranked 11th.

"We are going to be a very strong team, Coker said. "I think we are going to be a fast team again and a well-conditioned team."

The top 10 was as follows:
1. Ohio State (10-2 last year)
2. Texas (13-0)
3t. Notre Dame (9-3)
3t. USC (12-1)
5. Oklahoma (8-4)
6. Auburn (9-3)
7. West Virginia (11-1)
8. Florida (9-3)
9. LSU (11-2)
10. Florida State (8-5)

Other notables:
13. Louisville (9-3)
16. Virginia Tech (11-2)
18. Clemson (8-4)

#10 FLORIDA STATE at #11 MIAMI

The Miami-FSU game will start the season off for the second year in a row and it will again be on Monday night.

When asked if Coker likes playing FSU at the beginning of the season, he responded: "I would rather play them in the beginning and win then play them in the middle and lose."

Winning the game is the key.

"If you win the game it is a great start," said Coker on the Sept. 4 matchup.

Regardless if the 'Canes win the game or not, Coker reminds the media that you have to play the season.

"Florida State is a huge game for us, but we have a few more after that that are big," he said. "Last year after losing the game we moved up to number three in the country. It was Georgia Tech that costed us more than Florida State."

Coker did say he would rather play FSU in the first Saturday in October which is the sixth week of the season.

RICH OLSON & CO.

Coker hired six new coaches in the off-season including offensive coordinator Rich Olson.

"I think we have an exciting staff--a very good coaching staff," Coke said. "As the head football coach it is my responsibility to surround our players with a great staff. I believe we have certainly done that."

BATTLE AT MIDDLE LINEBACKER

LBs Glenn Cook and Darryl Sharpton are in a battle for the starting middle linebacker spot.

Cook (6-0/215) is a junior who has played in 22 games at UM with 45 tackles.

He is a guy that is very solid and plays mistake-free football. He's always where he needs to be against the run and was a primary linebacker in nickel schemes last season.

What keeps him off the field is his overall athletic ability, but defensive coordinator Randy Shannon likes the guys he can trust that will not make a mistake.

Sharpton (6-0/210) has the ability to cover the field sideline to sideline making a number of tackles. The speed and power is there for the redshirt freshman, but he has only played in three games thus far.

He also missed a number of practices last fall due to ankle and knee injuries. Whether or not he is the team's starting middle linebacker depends solely on whether or not he learns the system well enough for Shannon to be comfortable with him.

Both Cook and Sharpton will play a lot, but they both will be working hard to be the team's starter at middline linebacker.

FRESHMAN O-LINEMAN IMPRESSIVE

While fellow freshmen WR Sam Shields and CB Ryan Hill have received more attention, OL Orlando Franklin is one to watch as well.

Franklin is a 6-foot-6, 325-pound offensive lineman from Delray Beach, Fla.

He is projected as a tackle in the long-term, but has been working inside as a guard lately. He will probably start inside when fall practices begin, but could challenge for the starting right tackle position at some point during the season.

Franklin was outstanding in summer workouts, which has enabled him to be in a position to avoid being redshirted in his first year.

CORTEZ KENNEDY GETTING A DEGREE

Former UM great Cortez Kennedy is finishing up his degree this summer.

"I don't think he needs the money," said Coker on the 7-time NFL Pro Bowl participant. "I think it sets a great example for all of our players."

Kennedy played two years at UM in 1988-89 after transferring from Northwest Mississippi Community College.


Christopher Stock can be reached at stock@canestime.com

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