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Published 08/01/2013
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Meet the Press: Al Golden Previews #CanesCamp

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Miami Hurricanes head football coach Al Golden met with the local media Thursday to discuss the start of his third season and #CanesCamp.

Below is a transcript of Golden's press conference.

Opening remarks…
“Welcome, everybody, and thanks for covering us. We’re getting ready to kick off training camp on Saturday morning. All of our freshmen will be in and will start their orientation process [Thursday night] and [Friday]. The rest of the varsity will come, we’ll have a conditioning test [Friday] nigh, and then we’ll kick off practice on Saturday. No sense talking much more than that, I’ll open it up to questions.

On the normalcy of the past few months...
“It’s been an anomaly for sure since we’ve been here. My biggest focus right now is to keep the team focused. We know – at some point – there is an answer coming. We’re going to do everything we can in our power to bunker down; stay focused and not let this disrupt our third consecutive training camp. That’s really one of our primary functions as we head in here Saturday.”

On feeling prepared for camp...
“I think we have the right guys on the train right now, I think it’s a mature team. It’s a team that’s focused. I don’t need to remind them what our goals are, what the mission is, or what our standards are. It’s been quiet, knock on wood, because guys are too busy trying to get better and trying to take the next step. We have a lot of things we have to accomplish. We certainly have to evaluate a lot of newcomers quickly and see where they can help us, where they can compete and where they can fortify us. We’ll do that here quickly and we’ll scrimmage on [August] 11th, which is a Sunday. Then we’ll start to settle in a little bit.”

On if he expects additions to the roster...
“I do. We’re not much more different than the Dolphins right now; we’re going to keep the waiver wire open, and we’ll release the names as we go. However we feel we can improve our team, we’re going to do that. I feel like we have certainly improved our team since Signing Day.”

On the team’s depth and symmetry heading into year three...
“I’m excited about it. I think we’re going to have a good rotation in just about every spot. We certainly need some new guys to step up for that to come to fruition. We need some guys to step up and compete. We need a lot of the guys that have been around, maybe have had a nick here, or couldn’t get out of their own way because they were making decisions off the field that were inhibiting their progress on the field, to grow up and mature and stay healthy. If those guys do that, we’ll have the type of symmetry going into August 30th that we want to have.

On question marks at roster depth for certain positions...
“I would say it’s a little bit different, because I really believe that. For instance, if you take the wide receiver spot - it’s a good problem. I don’t know who the starters are right now at wide receiver, and I certainly don’t know who No. 2, No. 3, or No. 4 coming into the game are going to be, or who the six or seven are that are going to travel. There is excellent competition at that spot. I’m as anxious as you guys to go out there and see where they’re at. I know this, just hearing from [head strength and conditioning coach Andreu] Swasey, and what the guys have done all summer, they have been working extra hard on weekends, especially that group, really trying to improve that part of our game.”

On the depth at right tackle...
“We’re fortunate that at right tackle, [Brandon] Linder can play, [Jon] Feliciano has played, certainly [Malcolm] Bunche has played there, Ereck Flowers, [Taylor] Gadbois, [Sunny] Odogwu. We have a good combination at the tackles and certainly we’re hoping to get to the point where – I feel good about eight right now – we’re trying to get nine or 10 that can go in the game. We would have to be able to evaluate that quickly, if we can do that. I would like to do it.”

On injuries to Eduardo Clements and Malcolm Lewis...
“I’m always cautious about Eduardo, because that’s a ‘patient’ from a health standpoint. All indications are that Eduardo will be cleared. He has been doing everything all summer – there hasn’t been any contact – but it sounds like he is going be cleared. He is in great shape, his attitude and his mind is right. We’re anxious to get him back on the team. Certainly Malcolm [Lewis] is in the same boat. He has been running, and if he’s not 100%, he is close to it.”

On expectations for an offense returning multiple veterans...
“A team is reborn every year. I wish we could leave off where we were last year, but that’s not the case. This team, this leadership, this chemistry, this dynamic - on both offense defense and special teams – will be new. It will be formed here in training camp. Not solely – certainly the offseason program, spring ball, what they did in the summer, will all help make that come together – but it will be formed here. I would hope I don’t have to guard against anything, especially on the offensive side with the experience and leadership we have. I hope they’re chasing excellence right now, and not waiting for me to motivate them. I think Stephen [Morris] has a lot to do with that.”

On taking time to think about the progress of the program...
“No, but I did recruit though. I recruited like crazy. I’m grateful for the guys on this current team - for allowing the staff and I to recruit, get ready for camp and also equally to be with our family. This is a very mature team right now - really focused, not a lot of ‘list’ guys, just guys that want to win. Guys that want to compete every day and do the right thing. We’re not immune, just like every facet of the community is vulnerable; we’re not immune to social issues. But right we’re a very mature group, and I hope that only gets stronger here. I haven’t had a chance to reflect on it, because really we’re trying to move it forward.”

On what he has seen as proof of progress...
“I think the first thing would be what we’ve been talking about for five or seven minutes now - it’s a very focused group. We have the right guys on the train. I think the guys that are on the train have excellent leadership and, if they’re not the leader, they’re being really good teammates. I keep saying it, I have some trepidation no matter what because we have a long way to go as an organization, but we’re moving in the right direction. I think our conditioning is better - this year was better than last year and markedly better than two years ago. We’ll have another conditioning test tomorrow night, but from all indications, we’re ready to crush it. We’re ready to dismantle it. That attitude is prevailing now. That’s part of the culture.

“I think our guys are starting to understand the impact that strength & conditioning and nutrition has on their career. A lot of the guys that we have that have come before us, that are [displayed] around these walls and outside on the practice field, have shown them that. They get that. We’re considerably bigger on defense right now. [Curtis] Porter is 313 [pounds]. [Anthony] Chickillo is 276. Denzel [Perryman] is 243. Jimmy Gaines is 240. These are all guys who have played 25-30 pounds lighter at some point – [Alex] Figueroa is 238. [Tyrone] Cornileus and [Thurston] Armbrister are in the mid-220 range. [Raphael] Kirby is 238. We have gotten a lot bigger at linebacker.

“We’re not making excuses, but those guys grew up on the field. They didn’t have a chance to go to the weight room, get to that weight, and then park for six or nine months and then go play. Chickillo grew up on the field, and his mistakes, lack of strength or weight, were evident. Now he’s going to hopefully harness all that experience and be where he should be physically, and hopefully this is the year where that experience and those reps will match physically. Olsen Pierre is another guy who looks good physically. Jelani Hamilton is 285, played at 258 last year. I think we’re markedly bigger, and we expect to add to our roster here in the next couple of days. They’re not on the roster until they’re through all the channels; we expect them to be here by Saturday.”

On forecasting an improvement in the pass rush...
“I think it will, and I think it did in the spring, even though there is no gauge to that. Kelvin Cain is 250 pounds now and did a good job for us. Corey King, obviously we believe Al-Quadin Muhammad is going to help us in that category. Tyriq McCord, given the 20 pounds he has added, should be more than just a speed rusher.

“I don’t make excuses for last year, every team is different. But every time we talk about what we weren’t last year, I remind the staff and the team what we were. We were a team that were underdogs seven times, we were a team that played the third-hardest schedule in the country, we were a team that played 21 freshmen, we were a team that played three of our first four games on the road. They fought their asses off. They did. They played in some hard venues, way before a lot of those guys were ready, and I’m proud of them. Now let’s take that experience, add some poise, some composure, a little more of a quiet mind to eliminate some mental errors and penalties, and let’s go.”

On position battles...
“I think the pendulum for the first time is really heavy on the competitive side. We’ve mentioned wide receivers before, but tight ends – Asante [Cleveland] had a very good spring, Beau Sandland – the last six practices – looked where we wanted to be, Clive [Walford] has had a good summer. I look at the offensive line, and I don’t know who the starting five are – and that’s a good thing. There are six or seven guys there that that go to bed thinking they’re the starter. I don’t know who it’s going to end up being. I think there are probably four or five safeties who think they’re the starter when they go to bed. That’s good. We have a lot of guys that have played, and as I said, the way you harness that, you use that experience and you grow into the shell.”

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