By Eric Kalis
Miami’s victory over Florida in the Peach Bowl was a fitting way for the seniors to end their careers as Hurricanes. The season had been declared a disappointment by many, but the lasting image of the seniors’ legacy will be the Hurricanes celebrating on the Georgia Dome turf after pummeling the Gators once again.
Head Coach Larry Coker said the Hurricanes did not underachieve this season and the glorious moments should be remembered over the three losses.
“We had a lot more ups than downs,” Coker said. “I want our players to remember the good times. I want them to remember the Florida victory, the Florida State victory, the Louisville victory coming from behind, and the disappointment of the Virginia Tech loss when we had everything on the line. It was something of an up and down season. I wouldn’t characterize it as a bad season.”
Senior quarterback Brock Berlin took a lot of heat from fans and the media during his two years as the primary signal caller, but he finished the 2004 season with impressive numbers: 2680 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. Berlin also never lost to a school from Florida as the Hurricanes won the Florida Cup for the third year in a row.
Here is the 2004 senior class: Antrel Rolle, Brock Berlin, Matt Carter, Derrick Crudup, Kyle Cobia, Talib Humphrey, Santonio Thomas, Rod Parker, Kris Smith, Brad Kunz, Alex Garcia, Joel Rodriguez, Chris Myers, Kevin Everett and Alton Wright.
Gore, Parrish decide to leave early
In the aftermath of the Peach Bowl, two of the Hurricanes’ best offensive players, junior running back Frank Gore and junior wide receiver Roscoe Parrish, decided to forgo their senior seasons and enter the NFL Draft. Gore ended the season with 197 carries for 951 yards and eight touchdowns. Parrish had 43 catches for 693 yards and eight touchdowns.
Coker was pushing for Gore to stay another year but Gore told ESPN that his mother’s wishes for him to enter the draft pushed him towards his decision. Gore has a two-year-old son and his mother has a kidney disease, so he did not want to risk another knee injury next year that could prevent him from supporting his family.
The reasons behind Parrish’s decision were not disclosed.
Hester shines once again
The Hurricanes knew their chances to beat Florida would greatly increase if Devin Hester made plays on special teams, defense or offense. Throughout the regular season Hester was used in all three facets, excelling in kick returns and tying for the team lead in interceptions with three. He did not disappoint at the Peach Bowl, returning a blocked field goal for a touchdown and intercepting a Chris Leak pass.
Coker said he wants Hester to focus on one specific aspect of the game this spring so he can be used more often next fall.
“He’s a young player…The thing that we want him to do is we’d like to see him be really good at something rather than pretty good at a lot of things,” Coker said. “We had Roscoe returning the punts so Devin’s playing a lot in terms of offense and almost every snap on defense.”
Florida actually out-gained Miami 406 to 277 and picked up 22 first downs, six more than the Hurricanes did…The Georgia Dome crowd was largely rooting for the Gators. There were Hurricane fans in attendance but the Florida faithful drowned them out at times…O.J. Small had a nice game for Florida, catching eight passes for 92 yards…The Hurricanes finished the season at No. 11 in both polls.
Eric Kalis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.