Title hopes stay alive

Larry Coker wasn’t concerned with how his Hurricanes did it – he was just happy to leave Boston with a victory. Unfortunately for Miami, other coaches around the nation didn’t see it the same way.
A day after the Hurricanes held on in the final minute for an 18-7 win over Boston College, they couldn’t hold onto the top spot in the coaches’ poll. While Miami did maintain its No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press Poll, the Hurricanes trailed No. 1 Nebraska by ten points in the other voter poll factored into the Bowl Championship Series.
“The most thing of concern that I have is not on the polls, but over our football team,” Coker said Sunday. “We’ve got to get better on kickoff coverage, we’ve got to get better in a lot of areas. If we do those things, I think we will get better in the polls… we will get back where we want to be.”
After seven straight blowouts, Coker got his first scare as head coach. Miami led by only five in the final few minutes of the game, and had plenty of missed opportunities. Despite the narrow lead, the game seemed to be in hand, as the Hurricanes were chewing up clock and threatening to possibly score. But freshman Frank Gore’s fumble gave Boston College the ball with two minutes left and a chance to upset the top-ranked team in the nation.
BC quarterback Brian St. Pierre converted a key fourth-and-ten play, and the Eagles had the ball at Miami’s nine-yard line with 38 seconds left.
Miami wouldn’t let their national championship hopes die, as Mike Rumph deflected a St. Pierre pass into the hands of Matt Walters. Walters subsequently ran with the ball, only to have it ripped out of his hands by safety Ed Reed at the 20. Reed took care of the rest running 80 yards for the game-sealing touchdown.
“The thing that you see in championship runs is that usually you have one of these that you somehow have to win,” Coker said. “Sometimes when you do, it could be a good situation. You can learn from it and grow from it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do that as good teams do.”
The BC fans didn’t feel Miami was a very good team, chanting “overrated” at the end of the game. It was a very uncharacteristic performance by the Hurricanes and especially quarterback Ken Dorsey.
Dorsey had his worst game as a Hurricane, throwing four interceptions and no touchdowns. He had previously thrown only four interceptions the entire season.
“I think he made a lot of poor decisions,” Coker said. “Sometimes you get away with it sometimes you don’t.”
Despite his ineffectiveness, Dorsey stood in front of the media and admitted he made key mistakes – something the junior did last season at Washington.
“I told him, ‘You faced the music,'” Coker said. “He didn’t run away in any secret tunnel. That’s who he is and what’s he’s all about.”
With Dorsey struggling, running back Clinton Portis carried the offensive load, carrying the ball a season-high 35 times for 159 yards. Portis slightly sprained his ankle in UM’s final offensive drive, forcing Coker to put in Gore.
The Hurricanes will hope to get Portis and a plethora of other players healthy for Saturday’s matchup with No. 14 Syracuse. Starting defensive end Andrew Williams and backup tailback Willis McGahee have missed two consecutive games, while Daryl Jones sat out Saturday to avoid BC’s artificial turf.
Miami needs to win Saturday’s game along with the contests against Washington and Virginia Tech to remain in contention for the national title.
“The little misconception that we have around-maybe here and around the country-is that we’re just going to waltz through these next three games now and those are just automatic wins and we’re just going to go to Pasadena, unless the BCS messes around,” Coker said. “That’s totally false. We have three extremely tough games to play.”