Al Golden addressed the media via teleconference, as he always does, the day after Miami beat USF 49-21 in Tampa. Al gave the media an update on all of the injuries, talked about several players who are working hard to get better and talked about his teamās focus on the ACC now that the out of conference schedule is over.
Questions and answers may be edited to allow for easier written presentation:
Q: (Tim Reynolds Associated Press) ā Did you get out of the USF game as healthy as you thought?
Al: Eduardo Clements had a hamstring. I donāt know to what extent, but other than that it looks like weāre Ā pretty clean. I think McDermott, if we needed him yesterday, he would have played. He looked great in pregame. We expect him to be full go. Stephen looked great this morning. Feliciano, who went down just before the half, heās fine too.
Q: (Tim Reynolds) Feliciano just slipped, right?
Al: He actually looking at one guy and another guy came and hit him. I donāt think he saw it, which Iām sure startled him more than anything.
Q: (Christy Chirinos-Sun-Sentinel) Just checking on two other guys, Phillip Dorsett and Jermaine Grace.
Al: Phillip Dorsett is fine and Jermaine Grace looks like heāll be fine too. Phillip, I donāt know if he got a stinger or something but he returned, and Jermaine we held out. Heās got a little bit of Ā an oblique issue that weāre fighting through, but I think heāll be ok.
Q: (Matt Porter-Palm Beach) ā Could you address Stephen Morrisā post-game comments yesterday regarding USF being dirty?
Al: Ā Iām not going to address it. You should ask Stephen when you get him on tomorrow. Again, Iām not going to address it. Weāre going on to Georgia Tech week. We just want to move on.
Q:(Matt Porter) What did you see on film in regards to the special teams penalties?
Al: Ā I think we have to do a better job. Clearly we made some errors in judgement and itās disappointing because itās from guys that have played a lot. Itās a significant amount of lost yards and explosive plays and weāre trying to become that. Itās hard to become that on our special teams units when we continue to do that.
Q: ( Susan Miller Degnan- Miami Herald) Howās Standish Dobard?
Al: Heās fine.
Q: (Susan Miller Degnan) Is Georgia Techās offense very consistent or is Paul Johnson apt to throw in some surprises?
Al: Ā Thereās no question that Paul is a great coach and thereās no question that heās using the element of surprise, and really tests your discipline at all three levels. I donāt think thereās any question. Theyāve had more time to prepare for that. My chief concern is to get my team healthy and rested and weāll start in on Georgia Tech tomorrow. Thereās no question that thereās some elements to this Georgia Tech offense and I know heās excited about his quarterback so weāre going to have to play our best Saturday at 3:30.
Q: (Beast-Caneinsider.com) Could you address all three facets of the game and where you think you are right now as a team?
Al: Ā We have a long way to go. I donāt think thereās any question that we havenāt played all three facets for four quarters yet. The last two games, we left a lot of plays on the field. Weāre trying to get better every day. I think clearly, in the last three week, weāve improved in a lot of areas, but we have a long way to go. Although weāre four and oh, we really havenāt done anything yet and now we enter the ACC season, the tournament if you will. Our guys are going to have to gear up for the next 2/3 of the season.
Q: (Matt Shodell-CaneSport.com) On defense experience vs triple option.
Al: I donāt think anything makes it easier, but certainly there should be some familiarity. We canāt do the same things we did last year and think weāre going to win. I donāt think thatās thereās any question that all of us in the coastal look at each other and try to move forward. Ā Clearly they got a lot of big plays against us last year and we were fortunate to win up there. All three phases have to be better than they were on Saturday for us to beat Georgia Tech, but certainly itās nice to have some guys have some recall on defense.
Q: (Brandon Odoi-CaneInsider) Could you talk about how Raphael Kirby and how heās looked in practice.
Al: Absolutely Iām encouraged. The reason why Kirby and those guys were in there and not the third team is because South Florida was going with their first team. He was going against their best players. I donāt diminish his output at all. I think heās playing very well. I think heās prepared very well. I think heās got a great approach to the game right now. He only played six games last year, so heās really only finishing his first year now. I think Raphael Kirby is going to be really good. Heās got to continue to grow and develop and play the game faster. He has to be able to run the show, and get us in the right look, like Jimmy does now.
Q: (Tim Reynolds) Can you talk about the depth and production that you are getting on defense?
Al: Itās great for morale. Everyone is on edge all week because they are fighting for jobs, and I mean on edge in from a positive sense. Ā In other words, they know they are going in the game. They hope itās going to be on a starter. Obviously some are hoping to be a starter on a speed package, the nickel package, the third down package. Guys are fighting on a level that we really havenāt had yet. The threes and twos are fighting. All of that is leading to good energy in practice and great competition. Everyone is excited because they know they are going into the game, sometimes they donāt know who is going to start, but they know theyāll have an opportunity to prove themselves which is great for morale. So weāre going to continue to play a lot of guys. A lot of those defensive guys handle a majority of the special teams cover units as well so those guys have an impact on special teams.
Q: (Tim Reynolds) How great is it that itās multiple guys stepping up on defense and not just one or two guys?
Al: We have to continue to grow that. Ā Being around the ball, being active on the ball, pursuing, all of those things are contagious. We have to continue to drill it. We have to continue to accept nothing less than the standard than the players are playing at now, and continue to take the next step for us right now.
Q: (Christy Chirinos) How do you think the offense is going to handle GTās defense?
Al: I think itās going to be a great challenge. I had a oppotunity to watch a lot of their defense. Theyāre markedly better than they were a year ago. Some of the guys that jump outā¦obviously Attaochu, clearly it doesnāt take long to turn on the tape and see the impact that he has. Clearly they have veterans inside in Cummings and Dieke whoās played a lot of football too. Golden, Iām sure heās healthy, heāll be back. Louis Young at cornerā¦the other corner is a veteran to. They are an active group. Thereās nothing that we utilized against them last year that we can use this year because itās a completely different front, their coverage distribution is different and obviously itās a new defensive coordinator.
Q: (Matt Porter) Has Phillip Dorsett been trending upwards in practice?
Al: Absolutely. Thereās no question about how heās been practicing at such a high level and been running his routes at such a high level. Iām so excited about the big play that he made when we were backed up yesterday. That changed the whole tenor of the game. Heās blocking hard. Had a great punt return. He graded out at 97% yesterday, which is phenomenal. I think he played the most plays of our wide receivers. He does a great job on specials too.
Q: (Matt Porter) Was he off in the first few games?
Al: No I donāt know if thatās fair. I think we were off in a lot of different areas, especially in our passing game and in our third down passing game. IF weāre going to be critical, start with me, and then start with the offense in general . We missed too many throws. We were 65 or 70 percent on third downs yesterday before we starting subbing. We played well on offense for the first 35-38 minutes of the game yesterday against a really good defense. We were fortunate. We made our throws/ We executed well, and Phillip was one of those guys leading the way. I love the competition in practice at receiver and certainly when Rashawn comes back heāll make us deeper at a position that isnāt too deep right now.
Q: (Susan Miller Degnan) What have you seen from Jared Wheeler?
Al: Unbelievable. I mean heās been magnificent. He played a heck of a game yesterday. Heās been so consistent. He played more plays than anyone yesterday and graded out at 94% and 100& effort which means there werenāt any loafs. Again thatās a really high grade for someone thatās going against the veterans on the other side. Iām very excited for him and proud of him. Heās consistant and everyone appreciates him here. And he worked hard for this opportunity and he deserves what heās getting right now.
Q: (Susan Miller Degnan) Is he more confident now?
Al: Thereās no question that heās confident. Again heās playing like a starter. Heās not playing like a guy that replaced someone that is injured. Ā Thereās no question that in the last three weeks, heās earned at least an opportunity to start and certainly an opportunity to be the sixth man in the rotation. at both guard spots and center. I donāt think thereās any question that heās playing really really good football right now. Heās playing with a lot of energy and finishing blocks. Iām excited about him and his development. Weāre not very deep at O-line which is one of the reasons why weāre struggling to finish the last two weeks , because weāre trying to get guys in there but weāre not very deep. But with McDermott coming back and Isidora we should be able to increase the depth there.
Q: (Beast) How much do you preach winning the Coastal and the ACC?
Al: Thatās the way it works now in college football. Weāre not an independent. If you want to do anything you have to win your division first and certainly the conference. This is the first conference game. Iām proud of what we were able to do what we needed to do in the first third of the season. We were able to take care of business of there of the first four games and in the fourth we played a veteran team that went to the Sugar Bowl a year ago and had a good win at home. Weāre positioned good but thatās over now. Ā The bottom line is we havenāt done anything. The ACC season starts this week. Weāre playing one of the two teams that has represented us in the coastal division over the last eight years so we know what weāre in for against Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Q: (Matt Shodell) What do you tell Duke about the fumbles?
Al: Ā I think it was John Foster DullesĀ who said, āItās not whether you have a problem or not itās whether you have the same problem as last year.ā Ā He made the same mistake against South Florida last year, reaching the ball over the goal line and thatās unacceptable. You reach the ball across the goal line on fourth down, the last play of the half, the last play of the game, but you donāt reach the ball across the goal line when youāre going to get a first down and itās going to be first and goal from the two. Thatās unacceptable and he knows it. I donāt need to harp on it anymore. But itās something that has to get fixed because itās not what weāre teaching. From that standpoint itās disappointing. Thereās lessons to be learned here and we have to learn lessons while weāre winning. Ā We donāt have time to incur a loss and then everybodyās antennas are up and ears are open and suddenly our ears are open and now weāre listening to what the coaches are saying. We have to take care of our penalties, we have to eliminate our penalties on special teams . We did not protect the football good yesterday. Our antennas, eyes and ears better be up on that because you canāt win doing what we did yesterday.
Q: (Brandon Odoi) Can you talk about Pat OāDonnell?
Al: I think Pat is doing a great job. Weāve let Pat down on two blocked punts, other wise if you look at his average, his average is outstanding. Patās got to make a couple better punts in the plus territory. Whatās you guys may call a pooch punt that gets downed inside the 10. Weāve let him down on a couple of those occasions by letting the ball get into the end zone. Weāve worked hard on that. Also Pat has to work hard by not kicking it into the end zone. WE have to continue to improve our protection and get better in the red zone, but Pat has made a difference in our punt game, and in our kick offs. Our kick offs are very good right now because of what Pat is doing.
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