‘Canes ready to tackle Houston

The Hurricanes spent the last two weeks getting ready for Saturday’s game against the University of Houston. After suffering an embarrassing 31-7 loss at Louisville on Sept. 16, the team must now face the challenge of competing with the 4-0 Houston Cougars.

The ‘Canes, who beat Houston 38-13 when they last met in 2004, are faced with a daunting challenge this time around. This year, Houston’s offense is ranked third in the NCAA. They are led by standout quarterback Kevin Kolb, who is ranked in the top five in passing efficiency and total offense. In Houston’s first four games, Kolb has already accumulated 1,193 passing yards.

“He’s a special player,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “Houston is a good team. They’ve got a lot of players coming back, so they’re a veteran team that’s got a great quarterback.”

The two teams have met 17 times before, with Miami holding the edge over Houston 10-7. The Cougars have not been able to defeat Miami at home since 1973.

The Cougars have peaked at an inopportune time for the Hurricanes, who have slid out of the top 25 polls for the first time since 1999. Even though the Hurricanes have been not been playing up to their usual expectations this season, they have only played in three games. The ‘Canes still have nine games on the schedule to bounce back and reach their goal of a bowl game.

In an attempt to reverse the negative results that have plagued the Hurricanes so far this season, the team has been participating in rigorous workouts and practices to help boost the team’s confidence and potential.

“I think we got better as a football team,” Coker said. “We know we needed to get better.”

However, Coker refused to refer to Saturday’s game as a must-win situation.

“It’s a game that we need to win, that we want to win,” Coker said. “But as far as a must-win, we’ll see. It’s a very important game, obviously. We need to get back on track.”

Realizing the challenge that will be awaiting them at the Orange Bowl on Saturday, the Hurricanes have made it a point to leave the early losses and the speculation of critics behind them. Focusing on the rest of the season, and Houston in particular, is the only agenda that the team has planned.

“Houston is all they’re concerned about, and it’s all I’m concerned about,” Coker said. “That’s all we can control right now.”

Hopefully, the Hurricanes can bounce back from their current state of mediocrity on Saturday. A win against Houston will help to regain confidence within the players and start the team back on the right track.

“As far as where we want to be, that’s a work in progress,” Coker said. “We’re where we want to be when we win. I think that remains to be seen.”

Joel Brown may be contacted at j.brown22@umiami.edu.