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Published 09/24/2013
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Meet The Press: @GoldenAl Previews USF

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Head coach Al Golden met with members of the media Tuesday to preview the Miami Hurricanes' road game at USF. No. 15/15 Miami is 3-0 for the first time since 2004 and faces the Bulls at noon ET on Saturday.

Head Coach Al Golden

Opening remarks…
"Got another rivalry game this week playing South Florida in Tampa at 12 o’clock. We’re playing a team that’s coming off a bye week, [dealing with] the problems that that presents, in addition to playing a team that… you keep looking at them defense, they have veterans on defense, they’re deep on defense, they play a lot of different guys. A lot of those guys also play on special teams. On offense, we’re entering a game not knowing who is going to be the quarterback and how much of their read game is going to be utilized based on that decision. Couple of different issues we have to plan for during the week here, but I think our kids know exactly what type of game we’re getting ready for. These rivalry games are exactly just that – they’re spirited, they’re heated, and we have to make sure we’re taking care of business and focusing on ourselves all week."

On if he sees his team taking a similar mentality after its win against Florida…
"I hope so. As a coach, you hope that you are seeing it correctly and that you feel it. I believe that we are right now, but at the end of the day, it’s up the leadership and guys in the locker room. All you have to do is turn on the film to get their attention. If not for the turnovers, this season would be dramatically different for the Bulls. I think our guys understand that. I think they understand that [Sean] Price is a big-league tight end, that [Marcus] Shaw is a really good running back – he’s a top 10 running back in the country, he’s got breakaway speed - and they have a deep threat in [Andre] Davis. I don’t think there is any question our guys know exactly what they’re seeing. Very few teams are scoring on them if you take away those turnovers that turned into touchdowns."

On the challenge presented by a defense ranked ninth in passing yards allowed…
"A great challenge, and it’s even more dramatic on third down. I think they’re 33% on third-down defense. That’s been one of the things that we have to overcome. They present a number of problems: they’ll play man-to-man on you, they’re very good in the zone because they have a pass-rush that can get there, they play a lot of different guys. If you look at their defensive line – whether it’s [Elkino] Watson, [Tevin] Mims, [Ryne] Giddens, [Luke] Sager in there – there are so many of them. They have so many guys that they play that they stay fresh and put the pressure on you, quite often with just four rushers on third down. We have to be ready."

On what he has liked from his team’s 3-0 start…
"The biggest thing has been our approach. It hasn’t been about the opposition, it’s been about what our standard is, what we need to execute and the things we need to improve on. I think the guys have bought in to try and improve every day. It’s been competitive. It wasn’t all great out there today. It got a little hot, and guys were getting after it, which is good. We’ll learn from the tape today and move forward. This is a team that has been trusting the plan and executing the plan every single day. Hopefully we’ll continue to do that. We better do it. This team at 12 o’clock that we’re playing is going to be ready. This is going to be a good game."

On the challenges presented by USF offense and quarterback Steven Bench…
"They can get the ball to [Sean] Price, they can get the ball to [Andre] Davis. They motion [Marcus] Shaw out of the backfield and get him the ball. If Bench is in there, it might be the two-back, downhill run game, it might be the ‘pistol’ where he adds the read elements to it. What makes it more difficult is the fact that they’re coming off a bye week. If you’re going to put wrinkles in, that’s’ the time to put them in. It’s going to be a great challenge, especially in the first 15 plays. Whatever adjustments they have made, we have to adapt and adjust quickly so we don’t incur any damage on defense."

On misleading “time of possession” statistic…
"We need to be better at time of possession. The bigger factor has been our third-down percentage. If you take your third-down percentage, if you’re up around 45%, you’re going to get more opportunities. I think our turnovers have been good, which is helping the time of possession, but if you don’t get any turnovers, now you’re in trouble. The things we can control more readily are our third-down percentage - in terms of conversion on third and fourth down - and just holding on to the ball a little bit. Our completion percentage was down, which means you’re stopping the clock more, and our third down percentage was down. In both those instances, we’re not holding onto the ball. We definitely do need to improve in the department. Is it the ‘end-all’? No, but it is an important factor in your team for sure."

On his advice to team regarding a shorter, in-state road trip…
"I don’t really tell them too much. Last time we were up there, a lot of the same guys on this team were there. They know it was a great environment, and they know what they’re in for. I don’t think I have to say too much. All these guys were there for the 6-3 game [in 2011]. For the most part, a lot of these guys were there for the loss [in 2010]. We got fortunate last year because [BJ] Daniels was out and just the way the game went. But nobody is talking about last year right now. Last year we had so many freshmen, it was really hard to go travel for the first time. But we have a lot of mentors and leaders right now working with those guys, and a lot of those guys have secondary roles and not primary roles."

On his advice to freshmen on first road trip of their careers…
"It’s business. We’re going to bus up Friday. It’s business. Get off your feet, relax. They all have iPads now, so they have their gameplans on there, they can watch some game film, do whatever they need to do. We need to get rested on Friday and be as fresh as a team coming off a bye week, which is a big challenge."

On Stephen Morris’ efforts in practice Tuesday…
"Stephen did well today. Was he at 100% today? No. Did he do everything? No. But he must have thrown 40 balls today in team periods, and he threw it well. He’s transferring his weight well. I didn’t even know he was going to do that, to be honest with you. I’m happy about that, and hopefully he continues to make progress throughout the week."

On the progress of injured center Shane McDermott
"Shane was out there moving around a lot today. He is going to start his integration tomorrow, meaning he is going to start practice tomorrow."

On what he has seen from redshirt freshman quarterback Gray Crow
"He made good use of that time [against Savannah State]. Last week we did a couple of periods ‘good-on-good’ where we let some of the two’s and three’s take charge, and I think he did a god job with that – particularly last Thursday, he ran it really well. He carried it over to the game. The biggest thing with Gray is to just settle down, settle in and have command of the offense so he can play fast. He threw some good balls the other day and did a nice job. He has to continue to develop, but good overall 10 days from Gray."

On what it means that his team is “buying in” to the culture (conditioning, weightlifting, etc.)…
"That’s part of your culture – whatever things are important in your culture, that’s what ‘buy-in’ is. How much value can we create by our efforts and our time today? I think what we’re seeing is whatever we gave this team, they did – whether it was the conditioning test, it didn’t matter. I think they’re starting to believe in each other. Buy-in, everyone thinks, is relative to the coach…buy-in is relative to each other. I don’t want to let you down. I’m going to take care of my business. I’m going to finish every play on defense, run every fake on offense, or do every little thing the way it’s taught, because of what we’re creating together and what we’re investing in together. As soon as you get to that point, where investment outweighs participation, you have a chance. We’re investing in this and we have been invested in it. That’s probably what they’re referring to."

On what he sees as Al-Quadin Muhammad’s potential…
"Like a lot of our guys, it’s up to them. It’s not enough to be talented. How do you apply your talent every day? What do you do with your blessings - do you invest in them? Do you learn a process, do you learn the game? Can you play the game fast? In my 23 years in college football, there have been a lot of talented guys that have never taken that potential and made it potent. They never invested in all the little things that are the difference between good and great. We try to teach them those things culturally, and the guys that buy in, they own that for life – it’s not just about football, they own those life skills no matter what endeavor they go in. I think Al-Quadin is a very passionate kid. He’s very talented. The thing about him - it’s important to him. It’s a priority to him. He studies film, he is learning the game. He has a long way to go, but he possesses a lot of qualities that would lead you to believe he’s going to continue to find success."

On which of his players benefitted most from the past two weeks (bye week & Savannah State)...
"There are a lot of those guys. Beau Sandland, for sure. Stacy [Coley] for sure. Gus Edwards. Alex Gall. Stacy as a returner. We learned so much about a lot of guys – [Ufomba] Kamalu and [Jelani] Hamilton are fighting it out to get in there. I think [Raphael] Kirby had a good 10 days – I'm talking bye week going into game week. Jamal Carter - I know you guys don’t see it as much – learning the defense but yet executing his role on special teams, as he grows into his role on defense, is crucial. I hate doing this because I always miss somebody when I think off the top of my head. Those are a bunch of guys that have clearly made a lot of progress for us."