Spring Game

Meet the Press: Al Golden Season Recap

Courtesy: Hurricanesports.com
          Release: 11/26/2012
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CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Head coach Al Golden met with the media at his final weekly press conference of the year Tuesday inside the Hecht Athletic Center. Watch the event in its entirety on Canes All Access.

Al Golden - Postseason Press Conference
Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012

On transitioning from regular season to the offseason...
"I've been just trying to call a lot of recruits this week. My first focus is with the current team, and I've met with probably 60 guys over the last two days. I have to get everybody else this afternoon and tomorrow. We'll have a recruiting weekend this weekend, and then I'll be out the following two weeks. Just trying to make sure we get everyone on the same page today, get them focused on exams, get them to finish strong, and talk to our team that's coming back, and also just trying to talk with recruits on the phone."

On the difference between recruiting a smaller class...
"It's a lot different. It feels different. It's definitely more focused, more personalized, more selective. We just don't need that many, and we're trying to find the right ones. We're being patient. We're just going through it methodically and making sure we know exactly where we are with our team, and what our needs are, and try to fit them in."

On developing and "selling" an identity after two seasons... 
"I think the kids know who we are now; I think that's a valid point. They know what we want to be on offense and defense and special teams, and how we coach, and how we teach, and who we are off the field. I think that all goes into it. Clearly we're going to supplement that with a tremendous new facility here in the next month, and then later on in the spring [with] an incredible student center. We're excited about the confluence of those things coming together for us in recruiting."

On exploring the potential of adding junior college players...
"I think it's important. If I was a JC player on the other side, I would want to go somewhere where they have a need. We certainly have needs at a couple positions, so we'll definitely entertain that, where we need maturity, where we need instant help, or we don't have time to redshirt or cultivate or strengthen. I'm not going to give all those positions away, but I think we all know at certain positions we need some maturity and we need some guys to come in and supplement and impact what we have coming back. It's significant what we have coming back, but we have to improve on a lot of positions."

On what questions he hears the most from recruits during visits...
"To be honest with you, I think we're on the right kids. We've been honest with them. I think they know exactly where they stand. If they're looking for any disparity between what we're saying and what we do, that's being nullified by our current student-athletes. As I said last year, I think they're our greatest ambassadors. In a lot of ways, they're the litmus test, for "hey, what they say in recruiting, actually happened." There aren't really a lot of concerns. I think we've made a significant sacrifice here. It wasn't just one postseason game, it was three postseason games, it was a chance to play in the championship game, and obviously it was a chance to play our archrival and go to a BCS game. We've given up significantly, and now we're moving forward."

On whether he'll be watching the ACC Championship Game...
"I probably won't be. Hopefully I'm at a recruiting dinner trying to get someone that will help us get into that game."

On trying to secure commitments earlier, given an anticipated small class size...
"Last year we wouldn't have been able to line up in spring ball if we didn't have 10 or 11 [student-athletes] coming mid-year. Literally at some positions, we wouldn't have been able to post the depth. But this year, we'll have some kids enter at mid-year, but it won't be as significant a number. A lot of those guys are going to be guys that are at the all-star games, and that's what we should be dealing with. We should be patient with the kids we have identified are going to be in those games. We should be patient and give them an opportunity to say yes to us, for sure."

On Dallas Crawford's late-season success and role moving forward...
"I think obviously he grew as the season went on, and he was a freshman. As the season went on, we started to trust him; we started to be real comfortable with him. I imagine that's going to start to be four or five plays in every game plan moving forward, because he did a nice job with it down the stretch. Dallas has got skills, and he's tough. I've said it a million times, he has got moxie. He figures things out and coaches trust him. I can see him at tailback; I can see him at third-down back. He's not afraid to protect, he's tough. We can deploy him like we do Randy [Johnson] in the slot, or empty. He's going to have a big role for us moving forward."

On increasing Duke Johnson's workload...
"I think the offseason program is going to help him be able to handle more, yet keep his productivity where we want it. That's really what we were trying to balance this year. In the middle there, he hit the wall a little bit. We were worried about that. As I said to him yesterday, we want to keep your odometer down and your productivity and touches up. We're always going to be careful with him. We don't want to wear him out in two years; we want him to have a real long career. Part of that is keeping some balance there, and keeping him fresh. I think he had exactly half the plays that [Brandon] Linder had this year."

On his evaluation of Duke Johnson's performance...
"He has been tremendous. He's even better as a person and as a teammate. We're very pleased with him. [He is] as humble as ever, obviously excited about our future. I know he's excited to have the entire offense line back, and the entire tight end group back. I know he's excited about that."

On his evaluation of Stephen Morris' performance...
"That's probably, in addition to the other 99 things that keep me up at night, the one that hurts the most. We have maybe the hottest quarterback in America right now over the last four games. He is white hot. We would have had a chance to bring a hot quarterback into a championship game. He has been spectacular, he has been. I'm excited for him. He's so mature, the way he has handled these last two weeks - he's growing into a man. He is a tremendous leader. He's going to work hard, get his weight up, and be a great leader off the field. I know he's excited to come back and get all those wide-outs and young guys, get them moving forward."

On changes in the offseason weightlifting and conditioning schedule...
"I think we've changed it a little bit. For some reason I thought we had two weeks before exams last year. It just seems like it's coming fast. They have this week, and then Monday and Tuesday next week, and then they're in exams. I don't know if the calendar is a little different than last year. It's really important they finish up strong here in school. We're just trying to keep them on task.

"It's less conditioning and more lifting. This is a team that proved itself in shape at the beginning of August. I don't think we need to condition, especially [Jon] Feliciano, [Brandon] Linder, guys like that, who have played an inordinate amount of plays."

On the team returning key contributors...
"I sense excitement. I sense the kids understand. They have a vision of what we need to do in the Coastal Division, and what that will ultimately lead to. Despite all the things we were not this year - and we were not a lot, there are a lot of things we need to correct, which is good - we could have been in the championship game. You have to give yourselves that opportunity - and I think those kids see that now. The way you do that is to eliminate the things that cause you to lose, and eliminate distractions. There's a sense of excitement. The last two days downstairs outside my office, energy in the weight room, it's almost perplexing, to be honest with you. I think they're moving forward, they're just taking care of business. I haven't had a lot of guys on lists. Last year it was a different deal...I haven't had anyone on a list Sunday, Monday or so far today. It's a group that understands what just happened to them, and what they can and want to be moving forward."

On his evaluation of the team's defense and defensive coaching staff...
"I hope before we're telling everybody how to make changes, we're looking at Mark [D'Onofrio]'s record in terms of playing defense, in terms of his track record, in terms of player development. To be honest with you, Mark should be as mad as anybody. Imagine coming to the University of Miami and having to play a bunch of kids, imagine being saddled with that. He's the one that should be mad. Coming here, and he has one cornerback in the program - Brandon McGee. He should be mad, and he is mad, and he's going to fight.

"Everyone wants this change or that change; he ain't a quitter. He's not a quitter. None of us are. This staff will be together. We're excited about moving the program forward. The guys that we have that played gave up the 99-yard touchdown the other day. You want me to sell out what happened on the play? That a young kid went the wrong way and gave up a 99-yard touchdown? I think everybody knows. But I wouldn't trade that kid for anybody. I wouldn't trade him. I think he's going to be a champion.

"I feel that way about Mark and the whole defensive staff. We're not going anywhere. We have a great group of kids coming back. One of our captains on defense, Shayon Green - it's his first year starting. I don't even think people understand that. You look at that game the other day, watch that drive, when Tracy [Howard] is making a tackle, Denzel [Perryman] is sticking somebody, Deon [Bush] is sticking somebody - they're all freshmen and sophomores. The juniors have to grow up. We didn't have Curtis Porter until the last four games, and he probably still only played 30 plays per game. I think he can make a big difference.

"I'm not discouraged. Disappointed. I wish we would have played better. It's not just the function of the defense to say, 'We're so damn young on defense that we're going to have to outscore people. So let's go Jedd [Fisch]. Don't worry about the tempo, don't worry about the time of possession, try to outscore the opposition.' That hurts the defense. That's the decision I made. We weren't in a good position on defense coming out of the spring, with depth and all the guys that we were relying on that were at their senior prom that spring."

On the team's defensive philosophy...
"The philosophy has carried through for seven or eight years now. I would ask you to go back and look at where we started at Temple and where we went, and how we managed what he managed last year with all the suspensions and all that was going on, and obviously what we're trying to overcome right now. We're going into the spring with all the same guys that we just had. We'll have symmetry finally after two years, which we haven't had at all. We had Brandon McGee backed up by someone coming out of high school - that's not good business. It's a hard position to play, especially with the schedule that we played. I have complete confidence in Mark [D'Onofrio], the defense, and the young men that are on this team. We're going to get it fixed and they're going to go back to work. Tyriq McCord is going to look a little different at 245 than he looks at 214 today. I promise you."

On addressing individual desires to explore NFL Draft options...
"We've made sure we've petitioned anyone who wants to - whether they want to or not - make sure we're doing the process right. It's important that they know that the process fair, that it's consistent. Some of them decline. Some of them didn't want to go through the process - some of them absolutely just want to get to work and come back. I don't know how it's going to turn out, but we're here for them. We have the Draft Advisory Committee, we'll help them anyway we can - talking to general managers, talking to NFLPA - a myriad of ways to make sure they make an informed decision and a decision, and one that's in their best interests."

On the tradition of sending players to the NFL...
"We take a lot of pride in player development, and teaching them a process that will not just allow them to have a good year, or make a team, but allow them to have a career. Those guys that take care of business, learn a process, have good habits, are disciplined, ultimately, become career guys. They manage their money better, they make good decisions off the field, they're educated. I think that's what we're trying to teach them. That's absolutely in line with everything we're trying to do."

On open scholarships at the punter and kicker position...
"[Matt] Goudis is remaining as a scholarship player. We took a number of walk-ons last year, punters and kickers that know they have a great opportunity. We're going to scholarship one next year, not in this class. We'll be looking for additional walk-ons this year. Once they know we're going to be scholarship-ing somebody, it's a lot better to be here in Coral Gables kicking in front of a coach everyday than it is to be sending a video that might not be looked at. We're going to have a great opportunity for a kicker or punter next year, but we're not allocated for one this year."

On the response of his team under duress...
"We have good kids. We have great leadership - Stephen Morris, Jeremy Lewis, Brandon McGee, Mike James, Brandon Linder, Shayon Green. We've got great leadership through that. Last year was a senior-laden team and had some underclassmen that were thinking about leaving early - whether we all knew it or not. The reality of that is you have 35 guys - that was the end, that was the culmination. When things didn't go well there at the end, and the bowl game was taken, you could see how it could go south. These guys, for 60 or 65 percent of the scholarship kids, it's just the beginning. I think they got the news and said, 'Alright let's go. It's the first game of 2013. Let's move forward.'"

On the status of Eddie Johnson moving forward...
"He's finishing his exams and classes and papers right now. We're asking him to concentrate on that. I expect fully that he'll be back with us. He has been great - we've had conversations the last couple days, he has spoken with other team members, and Coach D'Onofrio. Hopefully he's ready to move forward."

On the season-defining moments of 2012...
"I think to beat Virginia Tech was big - we hadn't really done that much in the last decade. For a lot of young guys to step up and contribute really helped us hold it together. I think, although it's painful to go through at the time, I think the schedule is going to help us as we move forward. It was baptism by fire for a lot of those guys, and it was painful. But I think now they look back and see what a No. 1 team looks like or what a top ten team looks like, and what we need to do to get there. I thought Stephen's [Morris] growth was pivotal."

On witnessing the progress he envisioned... 
"I'm sitting in Greensboro in early August and we're picked to finish fifth and have no one on the all-conference team. We finished tied for first and won seven games. I'm excited about moving forward. I'm excited. It was a little tenuous at the beginning there - you're lining up a lot of young people, and it can get scary. I'm proud of the way they held together. A lot of our upperclassmen really grew up and were leaders and embraced the young guys and developed a team unity and chemistry that could withstand the schedule we went through."

On players who can set the bar higher...
"Thurston Armbrister has a chance to be 230 pounds and run a 4.6 (second 40-yard dash). He's a smart young man. He has a chance to be that. I mentioned Corey King. Curtis Porter, I think. The last couple weeks was really amazing, because he went from basically inactive or held out to, in two weeks, going into a game, and by the third week, starting. I'd like to see him get one year where he's doing everything right and being fortunate with his health and having a big year. There are so many other guys. Clive [Walford] - we saw a glimpse, now we want to see a year. We want to see a body of work, not just four or five games."

On the importance of developing more of a pass rush...
"We need to recruit still, but let's give Jelani Hamilton and Dwayne Hoilett and those guys a chance. They're just starting out. Even Tyriq [McCord], he wasn't where he needed to be physically. I think we're going to continue to supplement those positions, for sure."

On the importance of maintaining consistency in staff... 
"I think it's important. I try to be a coach that communicates constantly. I don't try to be a coach that harbors feelings or lets things sit. I try to communicate constantly. I try to make sure there is open communication. I think coaches know exactly where they stand with me, and what direction we're going with the program, and the vision we have for it, and the plan. It would be great to have continuity again. I think we were one of nine staffs in the country that had it last year - it would be great. It would be a statement for the administration too, with the commitment they've made and the resources that they have allocated for us to do that. We're just getting started. I can't wait to get those guys in the building next door, get a new training room, get a new locker room, and do all those things."

On a potential shift in preseason predictions...
"It doesn't matter to me. At the end of the day, I think the reason there's some validity to why you get picked fifth - it's because people look at the roster and ask, 'who are all these guys?' There aren't a lot of guys who have played, or there's not a lot of experience coming back. It's not something that we spend a lot of time with or attention to. The only point I'm trying to make, I could see how people or prognosticators would pick us where they picked us, or said we'd only win four games or go 2-6 in the division - because there were a lot of unknowns. To be honest with you, that's a credit to the staff and to the leadership (from upperclassmen) we got, to bring a lot of guys along quickly, and to finish strong. I would have loved to see, with the way Stephen Morris is playing, if we could have won No. 8 and No. 9. It would have been nice."

On his name mentioned in potential coaching jobs...
"To be perfectly honest with you, the only time I hear it is when you guys say it. I know my wife would cry if I said we're moving out of town. I hope that if that's the case, what you're saying, I hope it's because of how we're operating through a very tumultuous time, and how we're being steadfast with our plan, and not flinching. I hope people respect that - I hope people respect how we're doing and how we're going about it. I guess in that sense, it is flattering."

On imagining his team's potential success moving forward...
"I'm excited. We lost one senior starter on offense and one on defense. If my math is correct, that we are adding 14 redshirts to that team and 15 recruits. We're adding virtually 29 kids without any walk-ons - we're probably adding 30 kids to that team. That symmetry is important. You need that competition, when guys go down, the next guy is ready to go in and you don't miss a beat. Hopefully this class will get us to the point where we'll move the whole thing forward. I am very excited."

On developing more of a pass-rush as the No. 1 priority...
"I think that's exactly right. A lot of it starts with the pass-rush. Pass-rush opens up a lot of different things. The ability to play blitz coverages, the ability to play man-to-man whenever you want, to play tight coverage on the perimeter. I think pass-rush is developing the kids we have, letting them grow up, teaching them the skills they have, and also supplementing our team with recruits as well."
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