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Published 08/26/2013
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Meet The Press: Al Golden Previews FAU
Head Coach Al Golden | Watch Press Conference

Opening remarks…
“Welcome back. I know we’re excited to get going again. We thank you for covering University of Miami football. Friday night we get to open the season against FAU. It’s a game that we thought would bring a lot of interest in South Florida, and we feel like it will. Obviously so many of the kids know each other. It will be real competitive, it should be spirited, it will be a great challenge for us. Clearly with FAU going to Conference USA, and how they played in similar games a year ago - 14-14 at Athens – I think they have our guys’ attention. Today was our first practice and we did a good job. I’m excited with where we’re at. We have a lot of work to do Friday, but we’re getting ready to kick it off.”

On the uncertainty regarding an NCAA investigation...
“I hope we have a mature group, I really do. I hope our guys are focused on just one thing - that’s Florida Atlantic and getting better today. I feel like we came over here with a purpose. Now, all the distractions that may come along with it being the first day of school, hopefully our guys will treat them as blessings and not be stressed out about it – if we have to change a class, or have to go get a book, and all those little things. I hope our guys take care of it and treat them as blessings. I believe our guys are focused 100-percent on Florida Atlantic and they have trust and faith in President Shalala and our Athletics Director and legal counsel that we’ve done everything we can do at this stage.”

On the differences between this team and teams of the past two seasons…
“Clearly we’re a more mature team. I have to be honest with you, it feels like “50 First Dates” to me - the [NCAA investigation] question has been coming up for every game since I’ve been here. From that standpoint, we’re looking forward to that closure and moving forward. But clearly this is a more mature team than we’ve had. It’s a deeper team. The team has embraced competition. I think they look at Friday night as an opportunity to prove to themselves what they are developing and what they want to become, in terms of their brand and what they want to be on the spectrum of a Miami Hurricanes football team. There’s a lot of urgency right now. There are only 14 of these games, and I think our guys are approaching it in that manner - which is important.”

On his concerns heading into the season…
“I have a lot of concerns. As experienced as we are on the offensive line, we have had some injuries so we’re not as deep as we want to be. There are some other positions where guys need to step up quickly, and others where we’re relying on guys that are mature but haven’t been practicing  with us a long time, and they need to step up quickly. I don’t think there is any question there are concerns at a number of places. That’s the head coach’s job to worry about that and make sure we’re practicing right the combinations on offense, defense and special teams and looking to leave no stone unturned. That’s my job. I also think it’s a team that is going into the season with a lot of confidence, which comes from demonstrated performance over a long period of time. There hasn’t been a lot of setbacks, hasn’t been a lot of distractions. Everything we have asked them to do along the way, they have achieved. They work all year for these 14 opportunities. Man, what a great opportunity for us on Friday. I’m sure FAU feels the same way.”

On starting offensive line combination…
“For me right now, we’re playing seven in the game. If [Taylor] Gadbois can make progress this week, there will be eight in the game. There are five that start, but they are all going to play a lot. If it stays the way it is now, Seantrel [Henderson] will be the sixth man, [Jared] Wheeler the seventh man and Gadbois the eighth man. But there’s a chance [Malcolm] Bunche will be the sixth man, or whoever. They are all going to compete, they are all going to play, but there are only five that start. That’s the way it is today, but we’ll see how they practiced, and that’s where we’re at.”

On expectations changing heading into year three…
“I think the expectations have never changed. I don’t want expectations to change. As I said many times, even when we were going through all the adversity when it was fresh, I think the expectations are the reasons the kids choose Miami and certainly why I came to Miami. I want to chase the bar. Leave the bar where it is. We want to chase it. We want to chase the people we see on our fence, the greatest teams that have ever been through here. At the same time, we’re just trying to build it one day, one piece at a time. We’re excited about where we are, but we have a long way to go to be that kind of program.”

On improvements from running back Duke Johnson
“He is in better condition. He’s stronger. He’s bigger. He’s playing with a more quiet mind. He has more experience. He should play better. He’ll do a number of things for us. He’ll play better because the wide receivers should be better, the offensive line should be more experienced, the tight ends are blocking better than they ever have. I think he would be the first to tell you he has a really good fullback in Mo Hagens, who doesn’t get enough credit.”

On expected improvements in the pass rush…
I think [Al-Quadin] Muhammad has helped us there. I think [David] Gilbert is going to help us there. Tyriq McCord, who is starting for us in the nickel package at defensive end, is kind of a hybrid for us who can play SAM or defensive end. He will do a nice job. Shayon [Green] can do a nice job, [Anthony] Chick, [Justin] Renfrow, [Curtis] Porter – all of those guys will be rotating through. When we do bring the linebackers - [Tyrone Cornileus] and Denzel [Perryman] - they have to play at that speed. When they do come, they have to get to the quarterback.

On honoring Howard Schnellenberger and the 1983 National Championship team…
That was the genesis of the game that we would celebrate - what he has done for both programs and really starting both programs at the end of the day. He is a man who owes me nothing but treats me with great respect, imparts great wisdom every time I see him, really approachable. We’re blessed to have him in our family - I know FAU probably feels the same way. What a great moment for him on Friday, certainly as the guy who really got this kicked off here in South Florida.

Offensive Line Coach Art Kehoe | Watch Interview

On how many guys he’s comfortable in the rotation with...
"For the most part in my career, I’ve played five guys. And I couldn’t understand that theory about you can only play five guys and you don’t want to substitute too much but you’re doing it in every other position. And then Coach Golden came in and it felt like he always wanted to play a two deep to make the competition always there at practice, all year round. And it’s really helped us. And plus we’re using guys at all different positions and they can get in right and left-handed stances and I’ve got a bunch of guys who can play center. I’ve got a bunch of guys that can play even left tackle. So we’re in a situation where you don’t knock on wood. You want to stay healthy but I think we’ve got versatility to be able to hang on and play with anybody."

On Howard Schnellenberger in UM sports legacy...
"Well if you look at Howard’s background it’s amazing. He was an All-American at Kentucky, he played for Bear Bryant, and he coached for Bear Bryant and was on national title teams coaching Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler. Then he went to the LA Rams and I think he was the first special teams coach in NFL history. And he was the defensive coordinator for the fearsome foursome. Then he goes to the Dolphins and they go undefeated, he’s the offensive coordinator. I think this guy’s a pretty good coach, yeah. Before he came here and took a program that was—heck, my junior year we voted 6-5 to keep football, we were going to drop football. And then he took it from there to a national title so that guy’s an unbelievable coach, unbelievable recruiter, thorough, organized. I was lucky to GA and learn under those coaches and him, and to see what he did with this program was amazing to me. We hadn’t gone to a bowl game in 17 years and we couldn’t play a phone bill. And now we’ve got 5 national titles and played for 11 of them. He’s the main fabric of all that. He started it all and he fought unbelievably to maintain it. And I bet if you ask him, he’ll tell you that he never wanted to leave this place."

Junior DL Anthony Chickillo | Watch Interview

On what he’s doing to stay process oriented...
"You just stay on a buckle, man. There are a lot of distractions. You don’t pay attention to that, you just know what you have to do, and you know what has to get done. You just keep that focus and just keep going, just keep checking boxes."

On what makes him think the defense is going to be better this year...
"Guys aren’t making mental errors. Mental errors are down. Guys are just doing their job. Everybody’s focused. We’ve got great leadership on the defensive side of the ball. We just keep pushing guys. We never let our guys get complacent; we’re always pushing them to get better."

On how the three new additions to the DL immediately went to the two-deep...
"Those guys have just come in. They’ve worked hard. We need some more depth to our D-Line and those guys are just trying to help us win so we appreciate what they’re doing for us."

Senior QB Stephen Morris | Watch Interview

On his status entering the season…
“I think how I do it is go into every day with the same mindset.  That mindset is take what the defense is giving you, don’t force anything, play smart, understand the downs and distances and what the coach is calling the plays for and just doing the little things right.”

"Obviously they are a tough team, half time last year at their game against Georgia the score was tied so they’re going to come out strong.  A lot of the guys are from Miami so we know a lot of guys on the team.  We just can’t take anyone lightly we have to go out there and focus and go out there strong. 

On the realistic expectations of the season…
“I think that a lot of time when you have those expectations around a program our focus is to let all that stuff be taken care of outside, let the people outside worry about it, focus inside in this locker room, and my sole purpose and job for this team is to just make sure we’re ready week in and week out.  No matter the outcome of every game I expect everyone on this team to give one hundred percent and more so the outcome will be whatever it is.  But we’re going out there to play every single day like it’s our last.”