Coker Day After Maryland: Various Topics

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Miami coach Larry Coker addressed the media about a variety of topics after the Hurricanes lost 14-13 at Maryland.

What was Ryan Hill's reaction when he came off the field after the drop?

"There really wasn't a whole lot of reaction other than he was disappointed because he knew he had an opportunity to win the game for us. I don't know if he lost a little concentration or what it was but I will find out more today."

What do you have left emotionally with this tough season?

"I have a lot left. To say it hasn't been draining is totally not true, because of all the negatives and of course not winning. And then you throw in the tragedy, certainly it has been draining. But I think inwardly we are put together well. I have a lot left in my tank and the players do too. We'll bounce back and recover. This will be a difficult week for us; we have the services for Bryan this week and we will have to deal with that and we travel to Virginia."

Have you talked to all the players about attending the service?

"Well we haven't talked about that yet. We'll talk about it as a staff this afternoon and when we meet as a team we will talk about it. Certainly we will make it available to everybody. I don't think you make those things mandatory, but I would be surprised if we don't have a large majority of our football team there. We are going to provide transportation for them out of respect for our team and out of respect for the Pata family."

When did you learn about FSU putting the 95 decal on their helmets?

"They called last week and they wanted to do that out of respect for this program. The respect that Florida State and Miami have, the programs for one another, I think is just very sincere. I think also Bryan's brother plays for Florida State, so that was a nice tie-in and something they wanted to do for the Pata family. I was very appreciative and very fine with that."

Do you consider making a change at punt returner?

"No, not right now because we have our best punt returner back there. Bruce made a mistake, but if you look throughout the day he did a fabulous job and got better and better. I look even last year at a Deven Hester and we struggled with him some and even with the Chicago Bears he dropped some a week ago and he is as good as it gets. Marques Mosley actually coaches our return men and he does a great job; I actually wish he was here to coach them last year because he does a fabulous job with those guys. He made a mistake and right now I feel like Ryan Hill and Bruce are our two best and of course you are talking about two young players."

Did Bruce say why he didn't call fair catch on that?

"Well I think the one thing that happened after seeing it on tape, the flyer was somewhat obscured. The mistake we made was that the wingman has to block the flyer. When we hold those guys, you have a chance to field the ball and you have linemen and linebackers trying to tackle you in the open field. Now the entire day we did a good job, but on that play we didn't do a good job—they beat us. We would have loved to have gotten an opportunity to get the ball down the field. We saved our timeouts, but they had made a critical first down and we had to use some timeouts, so we would have had a long way to go with not much time, but I think we would have had an opportunity."

How do you prepare for Virginia this week with everything going on with the Pata funeral?

"We have to find the time. We have played Virginia before, we have played them twice, we just have to find the time to get it in. The game is going to be played. Of course our players want to be prepared, and we will work our schedule and somehow get it done."

Any thoughts on going for it on fourth down instead of kicking the field goal?

"There was thought of it, but not that much. I felt like we were in control of the game. I felt like if we could get it within a field goal, now you have a lot of options. If you go for it on fourth and don't make it, now you have got to have a touchdown and you are down four. To me we are still in great position. With the interception we are at mid field and a first down away from a make able field goal attempt. The thought was there, but not real serious. Looking back I think I made the right decision."

On late turnovers at the end of games this year:

"Well I think this was a little bit different from the standpoint of the kid makes a great interception. You are going to have those things happen to you at times. The muffed punt was again a decision and I don't think it has anything to do with early in the game or late in the game, it happened at an inopportune time that happened to be late in the game."

A.J. Trump and Chris Rutledge update:

"Chris came back and played. AJ will be examined today and we will see the extent of his injury. AJ was playing well and with a lot of energy. Certainly with AJ out and Reggie Youngblood at home, we were a little thin in that area."

Optimistic that Reggie will be able to go this week?

"I am optimistic he will be. But we have to see and until he gets examined we just don't know."

What do you say to this team to keep them pushing forward?

"It is the next game. I don't think this is a feel sorry for yourself team. I don't want to use the tragedy we had as an excuse for us not winning the game. I think the attitude of the team from the standpoint of the effort they gave was tremendous. What we got hurt on wasn't effort, we got hurt on technique by two corners and a couple of dropped passes. The effort was there. I got a call this morning from a noted sports psychologist who dealt with tragedies around the country and situations like this with the death of a teammate. He said that 90 percent of those teams the games were blowouts in the other team's favor. He basically was saying to commend our team on the resilience of our team to come back and play the way they did. I think that being down 14 points would have been a good excuse because we have had a tragedy and a lot of people are going to feel sorry for us anyway, so lets punch the clock and we'll be ok. Our team didn't do that. Our players didn't do that and our coaches didn't do that and I am very proud of that. We don't want to use this tragedy as a reason to win the game or a reason why we didn't win the game."

Speaking of resiliency what type of feeling did you have when it was 14-0?

"You never would have thought that our defense would have given up 14 points in the first 15 minutes of the game on two bombs. We haven given up much all year and now we have given up 14 on the strength of our team. But I really felt if we kept playing that we would be in the game and even win the game. Our coaches and myself fought our way back. The offense kept chipping away and gave us a chance to win the game. That was the worst thing that could have happened because you have a built in excuse. I know some people quit and just go through the motions and put on the façade that you didn't, but we didn't do that."

Do you talk about bowl eligibility as an incentive now and dangle that carrot in front of the players now?

"No. I don't know if that is a carrot right now. I think our self respect and our dignity and our playing well and our winning—I think that is the carrot. Maybe I am over simplifying it and for them it is we have to go do this to go to a bowl, but I think it is those other things that mean more than just going to a bowl. If we do what we can do, the bowl will take care of itself."

After the Maryland game, a lot of fans said some harsh words when the ran on the field. Do you still talk to the team about how to react when things like that are said after the FIU incident?

"I really didn't hear what was being said. We really don't address it anymore. I know these players and I know what happened with FIU was a total aberration. It was not us and we did some things that were wrong and it has all been talked about. I am concerned about the other emotions. You have the death of a teammate and now you get outside emotions coming in and how devastating that can be, but I think this team has handled it pretty well. We haven't said anything about that since the FIU incident."

David Lake can be reached at

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