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UM playful during first L.A. workout

©Associated Press
December 27, 2001

[AP photo]
Miami coach Larry Coker took an unintentionally formall look at practice.
LOS ANGELES -- Top-ranked Miami arrived in Southern California on Wednesday for the Rose Bowl and ran a 30-minute workout replete with laughing and joking as coach Larry Coker watched in a suit and tie.

"My luggage didn't get to my room. I don't normally practice in a suit," Coker said with a smile. "It's great to be here. The players are in great spirits."

With some in shorts, others in sweatpants and most wearing T-shirts, the players did some light calisthenics and running.

They also split into groups and ran pass patterns, and the defensive linemen seemed to be having the time of their lives as they went against each other.

"We're usually pretty relaxed," Coker said. "We'll be in full pads tomorrow. You could tell they were glad to be back together."

In contrast, Nebraska, which plays Miami in the Bowl Championship Series title game Jan. 3, practiced in full pads for two hours after arriving Monday.

After holding similar workouts Tuesday and Wednesday, Cornhuskers coach Frank Solich said drills will become lighter.

"We had nine days of practice before we came out here," Coker said. "We didn't feel like we needed to go guns to the wall on the first day."

Miami will be missing two key offensive players. Backup receiver Ethenic Sands was suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules, and starting fullback Najeh Davenport had surgery last week for a broken foot.

Coker said depth will make their absences a bit easier to take.

STILL REELING: The usually formidable Nebraska defense has had nearly five weeks to think about the 62-point, 582-yard barrage delivered by Colorado in the Cornhuskers' last game.

At least two senior starters are just happy they get a chance at redemption in the Rose Bowl.

"I've never been embarrassed to be a part of this program, part of the Blackshirt tradition here. That day, I was," linebacker Jamie Burrow said as the Cornhuskers prepared for the national championship game against Miami on Jan. 3.

"It was depressing, we knew we got whupped," cornerback Keyuo Craver said. "I was out there and I didn't know what was going on. They were killing us, they just shoved it down our throats. We learned from that."

NO HOLIDAY: A judge says the Rose Bowl isn't a judicial emergency and the Pasadena courthouse will stay open, despite predictions that a crush of fans will clog streets during the game, which doesn't fall on a holiday for the first time.

Private businesses and some local government agencies want to send employees home early. But courthouse officials rejected a suggestion by the city to close at noon and send the building's 100 workers home early.

"A football game doesn't really qualify as a judicial emergency," Presiding Superior Court Judge Mary Thornton House said.

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