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Published 10/12/2013
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Meet The Press: @GoldenAl Previews Tar Heels

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Head coach Al Golden and select players met with members of the media Sunday afternoon to discuss No. 10 Miami's ACC Thursday night game at North Carolina. Offensive coordinator James Coley and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio also met with the media.

Below is the quote transcription from Coach Golden's press conference as well as links to video interviews with Stephen Morris, Duke Johnson, Rayshawn Jenkins, Coley and D'Onofrio.

Head Coach Al Golden Quote Transcription

Opening Statement...
"Great opportunity for us on Thursday night at Kenan Stadium playing against the Tar Heels. Something we’re working really had preparing for – the environment is going to be loud and going to be a great challenge for our guys. We’re working with that right now on both sides, in terms of our communication and signaling.

"On offense, they’re clearly up-tempo, fast operation with a big-time quarterback and obviously [Eric] Ebron is as good as they come at tight end. There are a lot of challenges on offense – big offensive line, [Romar] Morris and [A.J.] Blue at the running back position, and [Quinshad] Davis, [Kendrick] Singleton and [Sean] Tapley at wideout.

"On defense to me, #95 really stands out - Kareem Martin. Excellent player. [Jeff] Schoettmer, 44 tackles, he’s the team-leading tackler at the MIC spot. At the bandit is [Norkeithus] Otis. Veteran secondary, except for one spot, but Tre Boston is a guy that makes it all go for them on the backend - active, sees it really well, plays with a lot of energy.

"Obviously this will be a great test for us. They would love to run 80 plays if they could. They’re averaging 45 points up at Kenan. It’s going to be a great challenge with a rival game in the Coastal."

On his team’s top 10 ranking entering Thursday’s game…
"At the end of the season we’ll count them up and see where we’re at. We’re 0-0 going into this game. All that matters right now is going to Chapel Hill, being a mature team, having poise, playing with poise, communicating, executing. The rest of it doesn’t really matter. It’s all about North Carolina right now, and we have to continue to have that bunker mentality for the rest of the year."

On the dangers of playing on the road in primetime Thursday night…
"For all those reasons, we’re going to be facing a great challenge and an excellent team on Thursday night. As I said to the guys all along, records really don’t matter. Records are talking about the past. We know what type of team we’re going to see from Chapel Hill on Thursday."

On rankings causing a change in mentality…
"We don’t talk about it at all. We never have. It really has nothing to do with it. It’s about how well our defensive guys study their offense, and how well we execute what we need to get done in the game, and how well on offense we study this 4-2-5 set, their pressure package, the great disguises they do with their coverage, and whether or not we block #95 [Martin], whether or not we block #8 [Otis], whether or not we block #34 [Schoettmer], and whether or not we can stop Boston."

On efforts to replicate team speed in practices leading up to game…
"We’re not up-tempo like these guys. These guys are at warp speed. They’re really fast and they have a quarterback who is really bright, and who can see it. I’m sure he’s healthy now. It’s going to be a great challenge - it’s really hard to replicate that from the scout team, although the scout team has done a great job of it the last few days. We’re going to need that here in the next two days. It’s going to be a great challenge for us."

On how much his team was able to improve during the bye week…
"I think we have. We really, until yesterday, didn’t turn our attention to North Carolina. It was about certain players improving certain aspects of their game, and then as units - offense, defense and special teams – about improving specific aspects."

On the efforts of scout team to replicate UNC quarterback Bryn Renner…
"He’s excellent. He’s tough to replicate. He has great vision, an excellent arm, he can sit in the pocke but he can move his feet. He’s not afraid to run it. When he does run it, he’s a big man. We’re going to have to account for him on every play and keep him in the pocket as much as we can, get some pressure on him. Gray Crow has been doing a good job, and Kevin Olsen been throwing as well. We’re trying to do whatever we can to replicate."

On the challenges presented by tight end Eric Ebron…
"He’s good. Ebron is a good football player, he really is. 14.5 yards per catch says it all, and he has a body of work. He is an excellent route-runner, soft hands, can open up his hips. I have a lot of respect for the job he has done there and the career he has had. It’s a great challenge for us defensively. We’re going to have to have some guys step up. We can’t have him making a bunch of plays down the field."

On the different ways the UNC offense uses Ebron…
"It is a challenge. He can block you, he can get vertical on you like a wide receiver, he can run a lot of the underneath routes where you’re throwing to a shoulder pad and he’s body-catching it – box-out catch, if you will - because he’s so long. He’s nifty. He’s a nifty route-runner, there’s no question. He’s very skilled, he’s not just talented. He is a skilled player. For that, they’ll line him up at No. 2 or line him up as No. 3. He’ll go over the middle, and he’s not afraid to catch it in the seams or catch the benders if it gets too high. It’s a great challenge for us."

On the progression of the passing game since the start of the season…
"I think we’ve improved in a lot of areas. Stephen [Morris] looks really good right now, so that’s kind of a relief. I think he’ll get progressively better over the next three days. As long as he stays healthy and we protect him and give him some time, it’s going to be a challenge against this group. We didn’t block them particularly well a year ago, and they got after us. They held us to 14 points, so that’s a challenge to us going in. A lot of the same guys are back and posing the same issues. In terms of the pass game, I think we’re catching the ball better obviously, but we’ve been working a lot of different concepts. I don’t want to get into all that, but I think we’ve improved, and I hope we bring that into this game."

On the improvements in third-down conversions from the offense…
"We have. We needed to get better. I think we were 50-percent against Georgia Tech, and better than that against South Florida – 58-percent, maybe. That was good. We obviously were not good against Florida in that area at all, yet we were able to win. So we were able to learn from that. We’ve made some challenges to the offense - that we had to improve. Conceptually we did some things differently, and we’ve been responding. In this game, it’s going to be huge to hold onto the ball. If you can’t convert on third down, or you turn the ball over, it’s going to be a track meet for them on offense. We have to be really cognizant of that in all three phases. We have to protect the ball and have to do a better job with penalties."

On the progress of wide receiver Malcolm Lewis
"Tremendous. We forget he’s a freshman. He got his freshman year back. He’s a redshirt freshman. From that standpoint, he’s ahead now. What a brave young man. He never made an excuse. He made all of his treatments, did everything extra to expedite his return, and the courage to go out there and do what he’s doing. I’ve been saying it the last five or six practices, he’s starting to look like Malcolm again. I think his condition is getting close to where it needs to be. He’s starting to trust it. He made some really great catches last week, laying out for balls and stuff, which tells me he feels really good to put himself in a vulnerable position. It’s a credit to the young man."

On the importance of Dallas Crawford’s play to the offensive success…
"Just keep coming. Keep doing it. He’s such a competitor. He’s got so much inner drive that he was getting frustrated at times because he wanted to play more last year. He just kept getting better. He kept putting money in the bank. Now he’s catching the ball out of the backfield, we threw him a screen last week, he’s pass-protecting really well, he’s running the ball. If he comes in for Duke [Johnson] at any point in the drive, there is nobody on the headset saying, ‘Who put him in?’ He just goes in. They’re getting to the point where they’re interchangeable. We’re all proud of Dallas, because he has really worked hard. He goes in, he has a lot of plays that he does really well. They complement each other."

VIDEO: Morris | Johnson | Jenkins | Coley | D'Onofrio

No. 10/11 Miami (5-0, 1-0 ACC) travels to Chapel Hill for an ACC Thursday night game against North Carolina (1-4, 0-2 ACC). Kickoff is set for 7:45 p.m. on ESPN.

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