Gooden: "Time to Return the Favor"

Linebacker Tavares Gooden has a message for all the recent critics of Coach Larry Coker: stop hating, Coker is not the problem.

"There are going to be haters everywhere, but as I say to Coach Coker, just throw those Hater Blockers on," said Gooden, as he put on a pair of sunglasses. "We need people to hate though, that is the fire. There is nothing wrong with Coach Coker. I mean he won a championship in 2001, how is he not a good coach? We have to go out there and play for him just like he is coaching for us."

"He gave all of us a full-ride and he did this for us. Basically, it is time to return the favor for Coach Coker. He is a wonderful guy and a wonderful coach. It is time for us to live up to our end of it."

Gooden feels that the struggles of the defense is due to players pressing to make the big play in key situations instead of letting the big play happen.

Houston (4-0) brings a high powered offense that averages 485 yards per game while scoring 38 points per game.

"If everybody does there job and not worry about doing somebody else's job, then we will be fine," Gooden said. "A couple times this season, the safeties have come up and tried to do the linebacker's job and linebackers trying to do defensive line stuff."

A key for the Houston game will be getting UM's pass rush back on track. Miami is currently tied with Duke for last in the ACC in sacks with three total on the year.

The play of the defensive line will be especially important as the ‘Canes will need to pressure senior quarterback Kevin Kolb, who is the active leader for Division 1-A in completions, passing yards, and total offense.

"Our defensive line is working hard after practice now and they are trying to get back to where they were last year," Gooden said. "Last year they were unstoppable and I think they are going to show that this week."

"The defensive linemen are probably just thinking too much. In football, when you think too much, then you go out and make a lot of mistakes; the defense needs to be eleven guys reacting. Those guys are thinking too much instead of just running to the football and just playing."

Gooden says the team is more focused now after their 1-2 start. The ‘Canes will be ready Saturday and play with more of a focus for four quarters.

"For every team we play, it is going to be a big game to come and play in Miami because we are everybody's National Championship," Gooden said. "We have to go out there and realize that and play like that is our National Championship as well. We have to go out there and not take the opponent lightly and go out there and play hard for four quarters."

David Lake can be reached at

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