The Hurricanes (4-0), coming off a 38-6 over Boston College at the Orange Bowl last Saturday, will have plenty of time to heal before attempting to continue the longest winning streak in the nation next week.
After going without much rest since the start of training camp in early August and playing on four straight Saturdays after opening the season, Coker said the Hurricanes will rest up some ‘bumps and bruises' in the coming days.
"We're fine health wise," said Coker. "But they need some time to catch their breaths. They have not had a break since Aug. 1, and they haven't balked an inch. There's some aches and pains we can hopefully take care of."
Without a game on Saturday, the Hurricanes will resume practice today, followed by practices on Wednesday and Thursday. Besides having several days off, players will also lift weights and run twice this week.
Coker added that it would be unjust to ask the Hurricanes to put in long hours of practice during the bye after working constantly for the past several months.
Additionally, Coker sang the praises of a UM defense for a strong finish after allowing Boston College to control the tempo of the first half with a clock-consuming running game. Although Miami led on the scoreboard 10-6 after two quarters it was Boston College that had possession for 18:20 of the first half with a conservative game plan that netted 88 yards on 26 rushes.
Miami's defense stiffened up in the second half and came through in several critical spots, including early in the fourth quarter as they stopped a BC drive and forced a 39-yard field goal attempt, which was missed by Sandro Sciortino. With the Canes ahead 24-6, linebacker D. J. Williams forced a fumble and Jonathan Vilma ran the loose ball into the end zone for a touchdown.
Just over a minute later, the defense was at it again as safety Mo Sikes forced another fumble and defensive back Antrel Rolle recovered the ball. On the next play, quarterback Ken Dorsey team with receiver Andre Johnson on a 33-yard touchdown pass to put UM up 38-6.
"We made some mental mistakes early, but the defense really got after it in the second half," Coker said. "Jonathan Vilma was all over the field and we put some pressure on St. Pierre in some key spots."
Making plays on defense was one of the things that Coker stressed before facing the Eagles. And after forcing three turnovers, the Hurricanes evened their takeaway/giveaway ratio at nine apiece.
"They didn't have a lot of yards in the first half, but we were on our heels a little bit," Coker said. "I thought we regrouped very well as a football team in the second half."
UM host Connecticut, Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Orange Bowl
UM running back Willis McGahee, who rushed for 135 yards on 17 carries against Boston College, was named Player of the Week by the Big East Conference. It is the second time he has received the honor this season.
McGahee has a streak of three consecutive 100-yard rushing games and leads the Hurricanes with 662 all-purpose yards. He has 533 rushing yards on the season to rank atop the Big East in that category.
Thanks to his quick start, McGahee has been mentioned in several circles as an early Heisman Trophy candidate.
"Maybe nobody outside of our program knew it, but we've always known Willis is a special player," said Coker. "He's getting a national name and deserves it."
Although there was some confusion on why strong side linebacker Howard Clark was held out of the starting lineup against Boston College, Coker repeated that it had nothing to with his strained right thumb.
Instead, Coker said that Clark was replaced in the line-up after missing several practices because his stepfather passed away. Freshman Roger McIntosh started for Clark, but Coker added that Clark would be ready to play against Connecticut…Defensive back Kelly Jennings is expected to wear the cast on his right hand for the rest of the season. Jennings is still recovering a torn tendon…Coker said that Andre Johnson was doing ‘fine'. Johnson had shoulder surgery two weeks ago.
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