Coker: "We are a work in progress for sure"

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Head coach Larry Coker talked to the media one day after a disappointing 13-10 loss to Florida State.

Larry Coker is 53-10 as the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.

He is 29-10 in his last 39 games.

He is 12-7 in his last 19 games.

He is 1-3 in his last 4 games.

He is 0-1 this year.

"We haven't lost three of four, we have lost one. This is a new season," Coker said. "We are 0-1 and if we had beaten Florida State, we would have been 1-0--no more, no less."

"I feel good about this team," Coker said. "I really do. I think we are going to have an opportunity to have a good football team. I think we'll bounce back. We've got a lot of work to do--we know that--but I think this team can be a good football team."

Last year FSU defeated Miami 10-7 in the season opener. Coker was asked if he feels better, worse, or the game a year ago at this time.

"Who knows, that is hard to compare last year or five years ago or whatever," Coker said. "I think we have a chance to have a good team. Do we have a chance to be as good as last year? Yeah I think we do, sure."

Following the game, senior wide receiver Darnell Jenkins, who led the team in total offense with 54 yards receiving, felt the loss was not disappointing because Florida State wanted it more.

Coker's response to Jenkins's comments:

"I don't really believe they wanted it more," Coker said. "I believe our guys wanted it just as bad as they did, but wanting it and making plays are two different things. You can want it as bad as you can, but you have to be efficient and make plays. Did they wanting it more force us to muff a snap, jump offside, drop a pass--it doesn't have anything to do with wanting it more. I think it had a lot to do with us not executing on offense in the second half."

Miami's program was built on swagger and attitude as well as speed and talent. The football program is most noted for their style of play. The Miami swagger appears to be diminishing more and more with each loss.

Coker disagrees.

"I don't think the swagger took a big hit," Coker said. "We lost a football game. Swagger is sometimes overrated. You have swagger when you make plays. We didn't make plays. When you make plays, you can have swagger."

Miami appeared to be plenty confident heading into the locker room at halftime as they were dancing on the field and some were lifting their helmets to the crowd.

They were only up 10-3 at the time.

And once again, they came out in the second half and did not score. It was the fourth straight loss in which Miami did not score in the second half.

In addition to their second half struggles, Miami has scored just seven points during the fourth quarter in their last six games.

Were the proper adjustments made at halftime against Florida State?

"I think the adjustments were fine," said Coker, as UM gained 17 yards in the second half. "The calls and those type of things were fine. Again, you have a dropped snap on a shotgun, a bad snap by the center, a fumble exchange with a quarterback and a running back, and a dropped pass. You can make all the adjustments you want, but you've got to execute those things. We have got to be more aggressive and I think offensively we have some young players thinking too much."

Coker believes his team has the correct attitude to turn things around, but one has to be cautious especially considering recent seasons and a 40-3 loss to LSU in the Peach Bowl, which the team admittedly gave up on.

"We have to have that climb back attitude and that is the thing we have to make sure we do," Coker said. "We are a very disappointed staff and team because we felt we had some great opportunities to win that football game especially at home."

They must have the attitude with a road game at Louisville on Sept. 16.

If they don't show toughness, attitude, and swagger, this team will be 1-2 heading into their bye week.

TURNING POINTS
In the second quarter, Brandon Meriweather returned an interception inside the FSU 15-yard line, but a penalty by Kenny Phillips on the return brought the ball back to the 31-yard line. Miami did not score on the possession while holding on to a 10-3 lead at the time.

"That was a huge turning point," Coker said. "Not just the penalty, but that we didn't score. You get those type of field position opportunities and you've got to take advantage of that."

In the third quarter, linebacker Glenn Cook missed a tackle on Lorenzo Booker on a 3rd-and-10 situation. Booker would have been tackle for a short gain, but instead gained 34 yards on the play setting up a first down on the Miami 5-yard line. FSU scored a touchdown two plays later to tie the game 10-10.

DECISION PROCESSES

Coker talked about a few of the in-game decisions he had to made.

Freshman running back Javarris James entered the game in the fourth quarter for the first time. He had a miscommunication fumble as well as a missed assignment in pass protection.

"We felt Charlie Jones was tired and we wanted to give him a little bit of rest," Coker said. "We probably should have played Javarris some in the second quarter to get him acclimated to the game a little bit."

With a 10-3 lead in the second quarter with under two minutes remaining, Miami faced a fourth down situation from the FSU 35-yard line. Instead of attempting a 52-yard field by Jon Peattie, who made a career-long 51-yarder against FSU in 2003, Peattie punted the ball.

"That was a tough call," Coker said. "He was probably in range, but I think late in the half in a big-time field position game the thing we didn't want to do was miss a field goal or get one blocked and give them great field position to let them score right before half. I think the strategy was good as we pinned them down on the 5-yard line."

FAN SUPPORT

In Coker's post-game press conference, he made it a point to ask the fans to stay supportive with the team.

Today, he was asked why he made such a plea so early in his press conference and if he felt fans might back off on the team.

"I think there is some negativism out there," Coker said. "I think our fans wanted to come and see this football team. I wanted them to realize that this team is going to get better, and better, and better as the year progresses. We are going to play some young kids and I think those kids are going to be outstanding players so let's stay with them and stay with these guys."

Coker expects his players to deal with the negative talk amongst in the community and will talk to his team about this.

"I think there are a lot of naysayers in every football community, not just this one," Coker said. "If you want to listen to it, that is probably a mistake. I think that is certainly something our players will have to deal with."

Fans are critical and disappointed, not because of one loss, but because of the direction of the program and common reoccuring issues.

Coker is optimistic about this year's team being different than in year's past because...

"I think some of the things offensively were deja vu all over again," Coker said. "What's different is that I think the direction is good because I think we have some good young players that can make a difference. I think there is some encouragement. Are we there? No. We are a work in progress for sure."

FLORIDA A&M

The importance of playing Florida A&M is the same as it was a week ago according to Coker despite heading into the game with an 0-1 record.

"They are all important," Coker said. "We have lost one game and if we had beat Florida State, we would have won one game as big as it is."

NOTES: RB Tyrone Moss's availability against Florida A&M will be known later today. Moss is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered 10 months ago...OL Reggie Youngblood was hurt during the game, but a prognosis is not expected to be known until later today.

Christopher Stock can be reached at stock@canestime.com

Canes Time Top Stories