Coker Press Conference

After narrowly escaping defeat last Thursday Miami now finds themselves at #2 in the opening BCS rankings. Miami (5-0) now heads to Raleigh, NC Saturday night to take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Head coach Larry Coker discussed a variety of topics at his weekly press conference.

Opening statement:

We are in the process of getting better and we are in the basics. We obviously didn't play our best defensive football game. I think it was important learning day for us. It was a good situation for us that the offense stepped up and in the clutch to help us win. I think for us as a defensive team we have to work on the basics. We have to tackle better and if we do that I think we will be fine. Offensively we definitely have to keep building. We have gotten better and Georgia Tech was a plus and certainly the second half against Louisville was certainly a plus. We have to continue to build on that. The team we play on Saturday is a very good football team. Reggie Herring, a friend of mine from Oklahoma State under Jimmy Johnson, is an excellent coach. He has been around the league. He was with Clemson and the Houston Texans last year. They have had a big turnaround on defense. Statistically on defense they are not where they were a year ago. This year they have a lot of players back and motivated on defense. I think Reggie certainly deserves a lot of credit for that. They have, I think 28 Florida players that will be very motivated to make a statement to all of their families back home. Certainly we have to be ready for that. Offensively Jay Davis, their quarterback, has certainly improved. Without question they lost a great player, Philip Rivers, who is with the Chargers now. It is hard to replace a player like that and I think Jay Davis is a player that is continually getting better. Without question T.A. McClendon is one of the better backs in the country. When he was a freshman I felt like he was a better back than Ohio State's Maurice Clarett. He is certainly a big part of their offense and a very, very good football player. I know they didn't have a great first half against Ohio State, but came back and played very well in the second half. Again, we are on the road and excited about the challenge. We are going to have to be at our best.

On the situation with Bobby Washington and if he will be extra motivated:

He is a good football player. I wish he were here and not there. Bobby is a good football player and he probably will see significant playing time on Saturday. He is a good player and I think Bobby will be motivated regardless of who they played, but certainly the University of Miami is home for him. I think he and 27 other guys are going to be very motivated.

On if Bobby Washington was treated fairly while at the University of Miami:

I wont get into that. I think with the situation we would have liked to have sat down and talked about the situation a little more, but things happen for a reason and Bobby Washington is a good football player with a great opportunity. I wish him nothing but the best with that opportunity with school and on the football field other than this one game.

On if the defense will want to prove the Louisville game was an aberration:

I would hope so. We have a lot of young players. We don't have too many seniors on our defensive football team. We lost a lot of great players off that defense. I think we will be motivated. I think if that was an aberration then we will play better and tackle better to be better in our scheme. I will be shocked if we don't do those things much, much better.

On if the defense's struggles can be pointed to one area:

Other than our secondary, linebackers, and defensive line we played pretty well on defense. It wasn't a small-defined area. We had our breakdowns and they did a good job of making plays on the opportunities. Obviously when they had receivers open they made the pass and catch. It was a combination of things. It was poor alignments and poor tackling. The things they did were pretty much the same thing as we thought they would. Sometimes they would line up a receiver in the backfield. They played with 11 players every play—not 13 or 15. It was frustrating a little bit when they would put a small player at a tight end position, which should have been a tip—you probably don't put that guy in there to maul defensive tackles. We have to learn some of those simple things, but they aren't simple things.

On being ranked number two in the initial BCS standings:

I don't feel a lot different before the standings came out yesterday. I am surprised along with most people that we moved up in the poll. It is odd that we have a close game and move up a spot and the team we beat goes up three spots. We are in a great position, but we have a lot of tough football to play. We have six games left and we know anything can happen in those six games. We are definitely pleased with where we are.

On if you are surprised with what Devin Hester has done on the field this season:

No not really. He is a great talent. I have seen it in practice. He has tremendous speed and got a lot of work in on the scout team last year. When there was a great player on the other team he would play that guy's position to try to emulate him. We had some trouble with him last year even with our great guys on defense. I am not really surprised. He is starting to come into his own and play with some confidence.

On if Devin Hester will become more involved on defense:

I would like him to get more involved. We are trying to get him involved in a package or two that we will comfortable with that he can execute. We are definitely in the process of getting him more involved and we need to do that.

On the performance of Darnell Jenkins last game:

Darnell is a talent and has come a long way. He had a terrific week of practice last week. I just think it takes time for kids to understand what it takes to play at this level. It is amazing how talented some of these kids are in high school that they only go about half-speed, but they are better than anyone else on the field. You cant do that here. You have to learn how to play and learning how to play fast by making plays and getting open. I really see Darnell getting better at all of those things. Also, running well after he catches the ball.

On how the team practiced leading up to Louisville:

I don't think the team practiced as well and we didn't have quite the edge. I think the schedule is starting to catch up with us from the standpoint of that we practice, days off, then have a game. It gets to be almost like a spring practice routine because you are practicing basically every day. I think a routine will be better for us and I do think we didn't quite have the edge. I know this—we have to get it back or else it wont be good.

On the success of Brock Berlin as the game gets tougher:

I don't know how to explain it. He seems to play better when the chips are down and things don't look good. He never flinched during the game and kept saying ‘we are going to get these guys.' I was thinking ‘okay, I am ready.' Not many guys can comeback and win games. Now they have chances and opportunities, but to actually get it done—not many people do that. He has done it four times in his time in the fourth quarter and that is amazing. I think he is playing with more confidence and guys are playing with more confidence with the package put into place by coach Werner.

On the shotgun being used more frequently during the regular offense:

It is part of it, but it is not an every down part of it. If you are on defense and all you have to stop is the shotgun it is a good thing. Now, if you have to stop the power running game and play action passing game. The key is being proficient in it. I don't disagree. I don't think we are as efficient out of the I-formation as we should be. It is not so much Brock, but his protection. We go to it some in the first half to give us spark.

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