Head Coach Larry Coker Names Brock Berlin Starting QB Heading Into The Summer

Head Coach Larry Coker Names Brock Berlin Starting QB Heading Into The Summer

April 24, 2003

University of Miami head football coach Larry Coker announced Thursday afternoon that junior Brock Berlin has been named Miami’s starting quarterback heading into the summer. Below is a full transcript of Coach Coker’s comments to the news media at a press gathering held Thursday afternoon at the Hecht Athletic Center on the University of Miami campus. Comments from quarterbacks Brock Berlin and Derrick Crudup follow Coach Coker’s comments.

Coach Larry Coker’s Comments On The Miami Hurricanes Quarterback Situation

“I appreciate you coming out on such short notice. This situation that you’re all aware of, that you’ve asked about and we’ve talked about – our quarterback situation – has gone through the off-season and developed into the spring. I’ve debated and thought about it. Summer is really a tremendously important time for this football team. It’s been one of the best things that’s happened here, our summer workouts and summer program. I think, along with that, goes the leadership of that program. The thing that we saw in the spring and, I think, the thing that we see going into the summer, is the individual workouts, is the leadership of our offensive football team, that we have in the players.

“As you probably know, coaches can’t be out there to orchestrate drills and orchestrate practices during the spring. I though it was imperative that for us to have the kind of football team that we want to have, that we expect to have, that I think it’s my responsibility as a head coach to make a decision and to give our football team a leader going into the summer. After the evaluation of our spring drills, our spring practices, all 15 practices that we’ve had, I’ve named Brock Berlin as our number-one quarterback going into the summer.

“In saying that, I’ve been very impressed with both players. Brock, having had very little time in the offense, has really made tremendous strides in the offense. I think the same thing with Derrick. I’ve really seen Derrick come miles. I think we can win with both of those players on our football team at quarterback. I think Derrick, with the consistency that he was showing in the Orange Bowl (at the Spring Game on April 5), I think there’s a lot of positives, so I definitely think that we can win with both players. I think with the evaluation that we’ve had, the thorough evaluation that we had in the spring, we felt like Brock Berlin should go into the summer as our first quarterback. Not etched in stone, not a lifetime appointment, it’s something that, again, it’s a very competitive university. We expect to have a tremendous football team. I’ve seen these quarterbacks and you have, too. I’ve seen Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, and Vinnie Testaverde . . . I believe all three of those players were here at the same time. Pretty competitive situation.

“I think what you’ll see is both quarterbacks compete. I think you’ll see great leadership from both players. I think Brock is definitely going to give us that. I think that’s a strong suit he has, his leadership ability. I think that you’ll see that we need both players to be as good as we hope for them to be.”

On whether or not the players as a whole rallied around one quarterback or the other
“I did ask a few opinions, but I don’t think that would be fair to the players. It needed to be my decision with the coaches. That’s not fair (to the players). I think they have really garnered a lot of respect for Derrick as he really improved and the work ethic that he displayed and I think Brock, the year that he had with the scout team, they really gained a lot of respect for his ability, the things that he could do with the football, as well as his leadership.”

On how close the quarterback decision was
“I think you have to make the decision for the right reason because what happens sometimes is you really think something and you have a perception of something but as you break it down, you may not have the actual facts. I think we wanted to make sure that we had the actual facts, so we took statistics as we went through the spring, with coach (Rob) Chudzinski (offensive coordinator) and coach (Dan) Werner (quarterbacks coach), and we went through all the video from the spring just to double check and make sure and statistically chart out what was done good and what was completed during the spring.

“I wasn’t pretty sure about it. That’s why I wanted to go back through all the video from the spring. Again, I didn’t want to do anything just from a gut feeling or a perception. I wanted to actually see what it is. I don’t think you make a decision just on, ‘Hey, these are the facts.’ And, ‘He has one more completion or one less completion, you’re the guy’. I think there’s some of those intangible qualities that are hard to measure, like leadership and all of those things, that you see when a throw is made and the game’s on the line. More than just exact statistics.”

On whether or not the decision is final
“As I said earlier, this is not an ‘etched in stone’ situation. Last year, I think you could probably see that Ken Dorsey was probably going to be our quarterback and it would have been very difficult to beat him out. But, as I said before, this is a very competitive university and I think we’re getting better. I think as a team we’re getting better. And I think our players are better at almost every position. I think that makes it competitive and that makes it difficult to get on the field. It makes my decisions difficult. When we were here on probation and we had 50 players on scholarship, it was pretty easy. You took the one who was healthy and go play. But now, where we’ve built the program back up and we have excellent talent, it makes it more competitive and it does make my job tougher.”

On the reaction from each player and from the team
“There were two reasons that I did this. I wanted to be able to tell the whole team. This will probably be one of the last team meetings we’ll be able to have because there are going to be finals (final exams). Some will be going home. So I though it would be very important that I tell the players. I’m talking about Derrick and Brock. I talked to them individually, then I talked to the team. I wanted them to hear it from me and understand my rationale. Again, also, hearing that like all of the positions on the team, that it’s competitive and that it will be competitive in the fall.”

On the players’ reactions
“Obviously, Brock was classy, he was pleased. Derrick was very, very disappointed and I would have been surprised if he wasn’t disappointed. Because he’s invested a lot and he’s improved a lot. But that’s what I wanted him to know also. That it’s not that he can’t work and still be an important factor on this football team.”

On the influence of other personnel, specifically receivers
“I think one of things that you don’t want to do is penalize a quarterback when he makes a great throw and someone drops a pass. You are penalized in the stats, as you know, because that’s an incompletion. We didn’t want to do that in our evaluation of the quarterbacks. There are several things that we didn’t want to (influence the decision), such as we have a poor offensive lineman, maybe a third-team offensive lineman, and you didn’t get a pass off. We tried, especially as the spring progressed to make sure Brock and Derrick had as many reps with the best players we had.”

On where Berlin excels
“I think leadership is the preeminent thing that he’s excelled at. Not just in the spring, but in the entire time that he’s been here. His poise, I think, his learning of the offense, his handling of the offense, I think, has gotten progressively better. Again, something that you have to realize is that he’s only been in the offense 15 days (of practice with the first team). We’re not the most complicated offense in football, but we do a lot of things. We do a lot of movement. It’s developed and become a very complicated offense from the standpoint of when Ken Dorsey first started this thing and what it’s progressed into now. It’s not an easy thing to do.”

On whether or not the fact that Berlin had started at Florida influenced Coker’s decision
“It was a factor I think that separated Brock and Derrick from the younger players. It really wasn’t a factor in any decision that was made (between the two). It probably should have been because they’re both older players. Brock has been in the fire, Derrick has been in the fire. He’s played in not so much of a major role, obviously, Brock started in the Orange Bowl (game) here, what was it two years ago, three years ago, whenever it was, but that really wasn’t that big of a factor. We wanted to see what he would do here with this team.”

On how Coker’s decision affects the players
“I think it makes it a lot easier for Brock. When I say easier, I mean more defined, obviously. I think it makes it now tougher for Derrick today. Now, I think what you’ll find is that he’s (Derrick) going into this thing and deals with it. I think he’ll move through it and I think it will be a decision that he’ll deal with. But I think that for our football team that it will make us a better football team.”

On whether Crudup will transfer
“I don’t think so. I think he’ll choose to compete.”

On difficulty of the decision
“It was difficult because Derrick did really step it up. Sort of a huge plus for him. Everybody assumed that Brock would sort of just step in, but why would they assume that? He’d never taken one snap with this football team. There’s a process. You’ve got to learn the offense and you’ve got to know your players. You don’t just step on the field and after two practices or three practices you’re a great quarterback. So I think the assumption might have been there, but it certainly wasn’t from the coaches.”

Junior Quarterback Derrick Crudup’s Comments

On his reaction to Brock Berlin being selected as the starting quarterback
“I took it hard. That was hard to swallow. But I just have to deal with it.”

On how the coaches dealt with the decision
“I felt like they dealt with it real well. I felt like they dealt with the issues of all the things that were said, like whether it was black or white, or if there was any favoritism. I think they squashed that from day one and I think the coaches dealt with it very well.”

Derrick Crudup

On whether or not there was another thing that he (Crudup) could have done
“I don’t know . . . played better I guess. I don’t really know. I think did real well. I just have to keep playing hard.”

On whether, or not, Crudup was told why Berlin was selected over him
“No, he (Coach Coker) didn’t. He just said that it was very difficult to make the decision.”

On whether or not he was surprised that the decision was made in the spring
“Yeah, it was a surprise. I didn’t think it was going to be made now. I was under the impression that it was going to be made during two-a-days. Like I said, coach Coker has been coaching for a long time and he made the right decision for his team.”

On the decision-making process of the coaches
“I think if I was the coaches I would have made the decision early, too, because you have to give your team someone to follow and someone to recognize as the leader.”

On team support
“I know these guys. I know these guys really well. I’ve been here for a long time. They’re supporting me right now. Brock’s supporting me right now.”

On the challenge he’s been faced with
“I’m a man and I’m going to face this like a man. I’ve dealt with a lot of critics. When this first started, I had no chance. A lot of people dislike me for whatever reason they dislike me for, but I really don’t care about that. I care about what I need to do in order to keep fighting and in order to keep working hard.”

On whether or not he will transfer
“Hell no! I’m a Cane. I picked this school. This was my decision out of high school and I’m a Cane till I die. I’m just going to keep fighting and keep working hard. “

On his father’s reaction
“I’m going to take it calmer than my Dad. He’s going to take it harder than me. He loves me so much and he just wants to see the best for me. It’s going to be hard for him. But I’m a man and I’m going to make my own decisions.”

On the criteria
“It just came down to statistics. That’s what I was told.”

On his own performance
“I think I did well. I think I improved on my leadership skills, my poise. I think that was a big thing for me. My confidence was there. I feel like I have great talent. I executed the offense well and I think I made big strides coming into the spring. This summer I’m going to try to make even better strides.”

On his own performance
“I’m happy with it. I’m real proud of myself. I’m thankful to God just to help me through this. I feel like a normal person would have crumpled under that pressure of people always saying that ‘He has no chance, he has no chance.’ Knowing that people don’t like you. But I had a lot of support from my family and God and now I have to just lean on that support again and just fight through this. This is another obstacle. Just another dent in the armor. Just a little bump and I’m going to get over it and good things are going to happen for me.”

Junior Quarterback Brock Berlin Comments

On being selected as the starter at Miami
“First of all, I’d like to thank God, for giving me the opportunity to be the quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes. I’m definitely excited. I didn’t think this was going to happen today. But, definitely, I’m excited and I’m ready to lead this team. And this is going to be a fun year.”

On the goal of becoming quarterback at Miami
“From the time Ken (Dorsey) graduated, my goal was to become the quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes. That’s why I’m here and I’m excited to know that day is here.”

Brock Berlin

On his summer priorities
“Really, just to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Work hard in the film room and in the weight room. When I’m around my teammates, step out and be the leader that I can be and just have fun. I’ve done this my whole life. I’ve played this game and I just know that it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

On the decision
“I know that Coach (Coker) just came down with the decision. I know that the coaches watched the tapes of practice. I feel like it came down to performance or whatever it might be. We’ll go from there.”

On leadership
“I think that’s one thing that the Lord has blessed me with my whole life. Being a leader and since I was a young kid it’s what I’ve loved to do. I’ve loved to have the ball in my hands and be the leader of the team. It’s a big responsibility, but it’s big rush and it’s a lot of fun, especially when you’re playing at a great school like Miami.”

On how the coaches’ decision has changed his own perception of his role
“Knowing that Coach (Coker) has made the decision coming in has really boosted my confidence knowing that I’m the guy and I’ll be able to come in every day knowing now that the decision’s made. I’m definitely still going to have to keep working hard. I know that just because I’ve been given the job, that doesn’t mean that I can’t lose it.”

On his improvement
“I’ve felt really good throughout the spring. Each day, I’m getting better and better at knowing the offense. I’ve gotten more and more comfortable. I do think that I’ve got a lot to learn still. The biggest thing is reps, whether I’m out there on the practice field doing seven-on-seven or I’m taking mental reps in the film room. I feel like during the summer I’ll be getting better and better each day.”

On the culmination of the quarterback competition (Berlin was previously involved in a quarterback competition at the University of Florida that he lost to Rex Grossman. He then transferred to Miami)
“I guess that, finally, I can take a deep breath and know that my dream of being a starting college quarterback is here and now is the time. It’s the time and I just thank God for it. I really can’t tell you how excited I am right now. This is a dream come true. I’ve always dreamed of playing this game at this level, of being a starter at this level, and knowing that I’m on such a great team with such great teammates and coaches. To know that I’m going to be a part of that is just really exciting.”

On the difficulty of the decision
“We all knew that the decision was going to have to come down. The same thing happened to me when I was at Florida, it was pretty much the same type thing. Those things happen. That’s competition and we’ll go from there. I have total respect for Derrick, he’s an unbelievable quarterback. We had a big battle this spring and he did a great job. We’re going to be teammates and we’re going to keep fighting through to get a national championship.”

On starting against Louisiana Tech in Berlin’s hometown Shreveport, Louisiana (season opener on Aug. 30)
“It’s really amazing when you think about it, how things worked out to where my first game as a starter as a Miami Hurricane is going to be in hometown. I know that all of my fans back home will really be excited to watch me play. It will be a dream come true for me because Shreveport is my favorite place in the whole world and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

On playing his former school, Florida, the following Saturday
“It’s going to be fun and I know that most of the guys that were there when I was there are going to be seniors or juniors. I’ll have fun out there. I’ll have to look at each one of them and give them a wink or something. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

On being a former Florida quarterback
“I think that when I first got here being a Gator and coming to be a Hurricane was a big deal. I knew that the biggest thing was going to be that I come down and show them by my work ethic what kind of a person I am and what kind of a player I am. I think they found out maybe after a couple of months that I was a Cane now. I had to win them over. I had to take grief when I first got down here for being a Gator and coming down here. But I think I won them over as time went on. I ran the scout team last year and showed those guys that I was able to lead and really show them that I was here to play and I meant business about it.”

On being a Hurricane
“I thank these guys. I love each and every one of them. I really do. I thank them for bringing me in the way that they did. I know they didn’t have to. They brought me in and made me a part of the family, made me feel at home. I love being a Cane. This has been an unbelievable experience for me. Playing for these coaches and with these guys. The way they brought me in was just awesome and I love them all for it.”

On the scout team experience
“My main goal coming down here was to be the quarterback and being on the scout team, I was a part of that. I knew that I was going to have to go through a year that was going to be tough, that was going to be a year that I was going to have to look at things and look back. It was going to be tough on myself. But now that it’s over with, I’m really able to look at it and just be thankful for it.”

On his approach in the spring
“I went out to each and every practice and said that I’m the starter of this team: act like it and lead these guys like you would if you were named the starter. Really the big thing this spring was I didn’t worry about the other guys and what they were doing because if I did then I’d do a lot of worrying because they did some good things. I think that I basically went out there and worried about my game.”

On his separation from the other quarterbacks
“I really don’t know what separates me from those guys. I ‘m not really sure. I know that the coaches made the decision and I guess they know what separates me from them.”

On playing in the shadow of Ken Dorsey
“I feel good. I’m not trying to live up to be Ken Dorsey. I’m going to be Brock Berlin. I’m going to play my game and I’m going to have fun. I play the way that I play. I have some big shoes to fill with Ken and all these past quarterbacks. This is ‘Quarterback U,’ this is the place to be. I’m really honored to be a quarterback here and to be able to put my name with those other guys’ names and it’s just going to be a lot of fun. The big thing is just for me to go out and have a lot of fun and play my game.”