Friday, December 19, 2003

Coach: Character was revealed

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MOBILE, Ala. - The GMAC Bowl was closer than its 49-28 final score. Miami beat Louisville before 40,620 fans at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.


Photos of Thursday's game
Miami coach Terry Hoeppner said "the character of our football team was revealed" when Louisville cut a four-touchdown deficit to 35-28 with 36 seconds left in the third quarter.

Starting on its own 22-yard line, Miami QB Ben Roethlisberger hit Martin Nance for a six-yard gain. Cal Murray ripped off a 31-yard gain, and after an incomplete pass, Roethlisberger hit Ryne Robinson on a short pass and he got most of a 38-yard gain on his own, zig-zagging through the UL secondary. MU back Mike Smith took it in from the 3-yard line for a 42-28 lead.

"We had to answer there and we did," Hoeppner said.

He said the play that sealed it was a 35-yard runback of an interception by MU strong safety Matt Pusateri to make it 49-28 with 8 minutes left in the game.

Hoeppner credited MU's defensive coaches for the adjustments they made at halftime. UL had scored a touchdown on its final play of the first half -- there were only two seconds left on the clock -- to cut MU's lead to 35-21.

"We didn't play very well defensively in the second quarter," Hoeppner said.

He called Roethlisberger, who threw four first-half touchdown passes, "the finest player in college football." He took note of a punt to the 2-yard line that Roethlisberger made, and absolved him of blame for a punt he had blocked.

"We didn't protect for him there," Hoeppner said.

Hoeppner said his team played loose.

"There's a fine line between being loose and being sloppy," Hoeppner said. "We were loose all week. We had fun. But when it was time to play football, they stepped between the lines and they play football."

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