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Published 09/30/2013
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Meet The Press: @GoldenAl Previews GT

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Head coach Al Golden met with members of the media Tuesday to preview the Miami Hurricanes' ACC opener against Georgia Tech. The third year coach has guided the Canes to their best start since 2004. Miami will face the Yellow Jackets, who currently hold a 3-1 overall record.

Stay up to date with Hurricanes football on Twitter @MiamiHurricanes, Facebook @CanesFootball and Tumblr @UFootball

Head Coach Al Golden

Opening remarks…
“Obviously we’re kicking off the ACC conference this week, and going against a foe who gives you a number of things with a high degree of difficulty. I have a lot of respect for Coach Johnson, Georgia Tech and job they’ve done – 16 consecutive bowls. They’ve been one of two teams on Coastal side that has represented us in Charlotte, won the division and obviously won a championship.

"They’re talented on offense, and I think Vad Lee at quarterback has given them a new dimension on offense in terms of throwing. They’ve added some formations – ‘diamond,’ as a lot of people are referring to it. David Sims is a big play threat as one of the up-backs, and [DeAndre] Smelter is a deep threat at receiver. On defense, I think everyone starts with [Jeremiah] Attaochou - 20 career sacks, he is a guy that can wreck the game if you don’t account for him. I love the way he plays, and have a lot of respect for him. A lot of veterans coming back on this defense.

"It’s an offense that is top 10 in rushing, time of possession, third downs, sacks against, and it’s a defense that’s in top 10 or top 25 in a lot of the same critical categories – red zone scoring, total defense, rushing defense, third down, pass defense. I think they have only given up 10 points in the second half. On top of all of that, Sean Poole is one of the best punters - their net punt [yardage] is ranked sixth in the country. It’s a great challenge for us, and we’ve been working like crazy the last two days to get ready for it.”

On what specific areas he has noticed defensive improvements…
Minimizing the explosive plays - obviously we gave up a big one the other day, but minimizing the explosive plays. Takeaways. And then the poise in the red zone - to improve and stay patient in the red zone, and not give and just dig in a little bit.”

On trying freshman Corn Elder at running back position due to Eduardo Clements’ injury…
“We tried that in training camp, when we had somebody down for a couple of days. Certainly Corn can do it, but what we opted for alternatively was to make sure we train Walter Tucker as a fullback and running back. We’ve activated Walter - he’s going to play this week, certainly on special teams, but he can play fullback for us if we need him. He’ll take some of the roles from Eduardo. Hopefully Eduardo can make it back, but we have to move forward here.”

On what roles he can envision for Corn Elder
He can be slot [receiver], kick returner, punt returner – their careers are so long. Right now, this week, he’s being Vad Lee for us [on scout team] and he is playing special teams.”

On reasons behind Duke Johnson wearing second-team jersey in practice…
Don’t fumble the ball inside the five-yard line. I feel no different than you guys feel. You can’t fumble the ball inside the five. It wasn’t an aggressive mistake - it was a careless mistake. It was going against what we teach. We do not teach to reach the ball unless it’s fourth down, last play of the half or the last play of the game. When Dallas [Crawford] reached the ball on his, it was fourth down. He knew going onto the field that it was fourth down, he replaced Gus [Edwards].

“When we’re through learning, we’re through. Randy’s talent and his sensational plays kind of precede him a little bit. He has to continue to learn and grow. The only thing we have to do in this is discipline the correct habit in this situation. Randy’s been great – he has a great attitude. He’ll grow from it and learn from it - he always does. He’s a learner, he’s a hard worker. For anybody on our team can do that, there has to be consequence.”

On the impressive play of redshirt sophomore Dallas Crawford
“If we said who are our short-yardage running backs, I don’t think anyone would say Dallas comes to mind. But for whatever reason he can drop his hips, he has great vision, he has a lateral cut and he can finish. His first run was tremendous down there…just being able to knock the whole thing in. He does have power, he is 195 pounds, but I think he has really good vision. He is able to find a small opening and torpedo it in there.”

On differences in sophomore cornerback Tracy Howard, now in his second season…
“He’s more coachable, and I don’t mean that in a negative sense. I mean that when you’re young, sometimes, you need to hear it a bunch of times. Right now he just understands that we’re just trying to get him to play better, and be in the correct position, and that’s going to lead to success. When he loses a little bit of focus, it shows up in his game. We’re constantly talking to him about trusting. Coach [Paul] Williams, Coach [Mark] D’Onofrio, I work with the corners a lot, working on little nuances of his game and just staying with it. When Tracy is on task, he gets better, and he gets consistently better. Hopefully he’ll continue to stay on task and just stay with the process this week.”

On the importance of depth to the early success of team defense…
“We’re in better condition. We’re deeper. When guys go in, they’re playing at a higher level. If you ask [Anthony] Chickillo or any of those guys, their play counts are significantly lower than a year ago. We were hanging on in a lot of games last year, undersized and undermanned. [Curtis] Porter was down, Denzel [Perryman] we lost early, [Ramon] Buchanan was down.

“I just think it’s a little different right now – when guys go in, they know their role. [David] Gilbert knows his role, [Justin] Renfrow knows his role, Tyriq McCord executing his role beautifully, Tyrone Cornileus is executing his role. The aggregate of that is we’re having success. We’re opening up ACC play and this is our sternest test to date. With all respect to Florida, in terms of if you want to test your defense, this is the team to test it against. This is a great challenge for us. I don’t think I have to remind our defense we gave up 248 yards rushing a year ago against this team. We gave up two pass plays of over 50 [yards]. We gave up runs of 35, 34, 21, 17, and they were 4-of-5 in the red zone against us. This is a great challenge for our defense, and I think our guys understand that. It’s not just the ACC opener – it’s going to be a tremendous challenge for us.”

On how to improve the team’s struggles with penalties…
“This is three weeks in a row now I’m talking about it. We’re showing them examples, trying to teach, trying to make sure the leadership holds guys accountable. Some of them have been so egregious – they’ve taken points off the board or swapped the field. In the Florida game, with Tracy’s [Howard] interception, we’re at midfield - we have a chance to end the game right there and we come all the way back to the 20. This past game, 168 yards I think you guys said – 102-yard touchdown we wiped off, and a 66-yard punt return. You can’t do that and beat Georgia Tech. You just can’t. If you turn the ball over, if you go backwards, you can’t beat them. We have to get that squared away quickly.

On the health of senior quarterback Stephen Morris
“I think he’ll be okay. He’ll be fine. He’s been good. We didn’t go backwards, we have to continue to get him healthy. Practices get shorter and shorter as the week goes on, so I don’t think it will be anything from a physical standpoint. I would like to have him to 95 or 100% by Saturday – I think he has made good progress. He didn’t go backwards Saturday [against USF]. He has a good attitude about it. Hopefully it’ll be a non-issue shortly. I’d love to be able to say it’s a non-issue, but we’re not quite there yet.”

On having junior Ryan Williams ready at quarterback position…
“We’re very confident in Ryan. I think you can sense that from the staff and the other players. There is a sense of confidence that if we need Ryan again at some point this year, that we’ll go with it. He’s throwing the ball well. He’s been taking a lot of snaps, commanding the offense really well and distributing the football. I’m very pleased with Ryan’s development.”