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'Canes' star TE, center benched but will play

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Published November 12, 2003

CORAL GABLES - Miami coach Larry Coker benched tight end Kellen Winslow on Tuesday, punishing the team's top receiver for his behavior on the field.

He also benched center Joel Rodriguez after earlier demoting quarterback Brock Berlin, meaning the 14th-ranked Hurricanes (7-2) will have six offensive players in new positions Saturday against Syracuse.

Winslow and Rodriguez will not start against the Orangemen (5-3), but Coker said they will play. Berlin could play, too, but Coker said it will depend on how new starter Derrick Crudup performs.

Winslow was benched for committing two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in losses to Virginia Tech and Tennessee. Rodriguez was benched for committing a critical holding penalty in the fourth quarter against the Volunteers. "We're doing everything we can to address any problems we have on our football team," offensive line coach Art Kehoe said. "If it means somebody's got to get benched or we've got to start somebody else, we're going to do whatever it takes to get this ship right.

"The bench has always been the coach's best vehicle throughout sports history. Has it not? It's the best thing I know of."

Winslow was penalized 15 yards in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 10-6 loss to Tennessee for taking off his helmet. After the game, he said his helmet was ripped off. He then lashed out at officials in a profanity-laced tirade that ended with him referring to football as war and himself as a soldier.

He apologized a day later.

In a 31-7 loss to Virginia Tech, Winslow was flagged 15 yards for punching linebacker Brandon Manning.

"We've got to understand we can't have that," Coker said. "It hurts our football team. The most pain you can inflict on a player is playing time, so I am going to take away some playing time."

Kevin Everett will start in place of Winslow, who leads the team with 51 catches for 527 yards.

Rodriguez was flagged for his fifth holding penalty of the season. It came on first and 10 at the Tennessee 30 with Miami trailing 10-6 early in the fourth quarter.

The 10-yard penalty took the Hurricanes out of field-goal range, and the drive ended three plays later when Berlin fumbled, his third of the season.

Without Rodriguez, the Hurricanes will move right guard Chris Myers to center, shift left tackle Eric Winston to left guard and insert Rashad Butler at left tackle and Joe McGrath at right guard. The moves also are necessary because left guard Vernon Carey is likely out with a sprained ankle. The only lineman who remains unchanged is right tackle Carlos Joseph.

Of his demotion, Berlin said: "I'm not happy about being on the bench. I don't want to be on the bench, and I'm going to work very hard and just as hard as I've been doing to get back on the field and get my job back."

BACK IN SPOTLIGHT: For the second time in eight days, Oxford, Ohio, will be illuminated by the lights of Yager Stadium as the Miami RedHawks play tonight in another nationally televised game.

Miami's 33-10 victory over 15th-ranked Bowling Green last week in Oxford, in a game broadcast by ESPN2, brought national recognition to the RedHawks. Miami's opponent this time is Marshall, the 7:35 p.m. game will be televised by ESPN2 again, and a victory would bring more than recognition to the RedHawks, ranked No. 16 in the Bowl Championship Series standings, No. 23 by the Associated Press and No. 24 in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 poll.

Should the RedHawks defeat the Thundering Herd, Miami would clinch the Mid-American Conference East Division championship and a berth in the MAC Championship Game on Dec. 4.

UCF WORKS OUT: The team practiced for an hour Tuesday morning, its first under interim head coach Alan Gooch, who replaced the fired Mike Kruczek on Monday. "It was a good practice today," Gooch said. "We felt like we got everything accomplished that we wanted accomplished." The team is off today as coaches hit the recruiting trail.

REBEL LAID UP: Mississippi defensive tackle McKinley Boykin had surgery on his left knee and his status is uncertain for the Nov. 22 game against LSU. He was injured in the first half against Auburn on Saturday.

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