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Coker, 'Canes relieved with win; plenty left to do

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The work will continue this week at
Miami. The Hurricanes freely acknowledge they are still
error-plagued, hurting themselves with penalties, missed kicks,
dropped balls and blown coverages.

Still, a measly one-point win over a big underdog made them feel
much better.

No one in the Miami football camp would dare say that Saturday
night's 14-13 win over Houston is a sign that the Hurricanes are
rolling again, least of all coach Larry Coker. Yet at the same
time, he sees a victory by any margin as a clear step in the right
direction.

"They know what the score was and they know we won," Coker
said Sunday morning. "We didn't play as well as we can, but that's
OK. That's why we're here as coaches, to help get those things
right. And when you win, it sets a more positive environment to
correct that."

Miami (2-2) certainly could use a little less negativity these
days.

The Hurricanes' win over the previously unbeaten Cougars did
nothing to enhance their status in the AP Top 25 poll; Miami
remained out of the rankings for the third straight week after
seeing a run of 107 consecutive appearances in the poll end
following its 31-7 loss at Louisville on Sept. 16.

Miami hadn't played since, until Saturday, when it rallied from
a 13-7 third-quarter deficit and needed a huge fourth-and-inch
conversion by quarterback Kyle Wright in the final minutes to
secure the win.

On that fourth down, when Miami was on its own 38 and clinging
to the 14-13 lead, Coker's first inclination was to punt. But he
changed his mind after listening to his offensive players plead to
remain on the field.

"Most of the time, I don't do that. Because players, when it's
fourth-and-82, they always say 'we can make it,"' Coker said.
"But I think it was the right thing to do."

Sure enough, it was. Wright got the first down, the 'Canes ran
out the clock, and the win was sealed.

And that wasn't the only smart, gutsy call Coker made Saturday
night.

Javarris James got his first start at running back and wound up
with 148 yards and a touchdown in only his fourth collegiate game.

"Once I got in the flow I kept feeling it," James said. "And
eventually I got on fire."

He and Charlie Jones got most of the carries for Miami, while
Tyrone Moss -- the team's leading rusher last season -- spent
virtually the entire game isolated from teammates, sitting alone on
the bench with a towel draped over his head.

Coker said he decided "during the game" that Moss wouldn't
play.

"Our two best backs now, we feel like, are Javarris James and
Charlie Jones, so they'll get the bulk of the work," Coker said.
"We need to play the best combinations we can to win games. This
is not time to experiment."

Nor is it time to sulk, he added.

On a night where planes circled the Orange Bowl displaying
banners with messages calling for his ouster -- Coker said he wasn't
fazed by them -- his final pregame message to his team was simple:
Relax, and enjoy.

"This is college football. It's the University of Miami. If you
can't have fun playing college football here, you can't enjoy
Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever we celebrate at Miami," Coker
said. "I wanted them to relax a little bit and I think we were
able to do that some."