Aside from Berlin, who had 126 passing yards in the fourth quarter despite severe cramps in his legs (he finished 27 of 41 for 340 yards), the Hurricanes' most important offensive cog was Gore. He, like Berlin, sat out 2002 (with a torn ACL) and is intent on making up for lost time. Gore finished Saturday's game with 127 rushing yards, two touchdowns and high praise for his back-field partner. "Having Brock in there really helped us," Gore said. "He was calm in the huddle and made sure we stayed focused. We kept digging and came out with a win."
It appears the Hurricanes will have to do a lot more digging to duplicate Miami's undefeated 2001 and '02 regular seasons. Florida's fast, feisty skill players and blitzing, swarming defense exposed flaws in the Hurricanes, notably a soft underbelly on defense and an inability to hang on to the ball on offense. Miami also suffered a rash of penalties—16 in all, including three for unsportsmanlike conduct. Nothing will come easy this season for the Hurricanes, who begin Big East play in two weeks by traveling to dangerous Boston College and after that face daunting matchups with Florida State, Tennessee, and conference powers Virginia Tech and Pitt. Said the plain-talking Coker after Saturday's victory, "We are not a good football team right now?"
Still, these Hurricanes could prove courageous in ways their predecessors did not have to be. After an interception by cornerback Alfonso Marshall sealed the Miami victory, Berlin ran around the field, cramps be damned, like a toy rocket with no place to land. He sprinted toward the dumbstruck Florida student section, clapping his arms together in a mocking Gator chomp. He then made a beeline to the press conference room, embracing everyone—cheerleaders, graduate assistants, even a sheepish-looking Snell—in his path.
After spitting out a few exuberant sound bites—"My emotions are sailing right now"—Berlin begged off further questions and collapsed, at long last, on a locker-room bench. It was just as well. For one week, at least, enough had already been said.