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Published 11/12/2013
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Meet The Press: @GoldenAl Previews Duke

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden met with members of the media Tuesday to preview Saturday's pivotal ACC Coastal Division game vs. Duke.

The 23rd-ranked Miami Hurricanes (7-2, 3-2 ACC) take their nine-game series winning streak to Durham, N.C., to face ACC Coastal Division rival Duke (7-2, 3-2 ACC). Saturday's game will kick at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

Head Coach Al Golden Press Conference Transcript

Opening remarks…
“This week we’re getting ready for Duke Blue Devils who are playing really good. They’re winners of five in a row and 7-2 [overall]. Obviously a very veteran team and a team that doesn’t beat themselves. I think eight of their 11 guys on defense are fourth- or fifth-year players. They haven an offensive that line has 144 starts among them, four of them with 21 or 22 starts consecutively, which is an amazing stat. They’re top 3 right now in each of the four running special teams – kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return – as well as being top 3 in penalties against. They’re doing a great job protecting the football, so they’re eliminating a lot of things that cause teams to lose. They’re a veteran group, they’re getting excellent special teams play, and that’s why they’re playing so well.”

On a coach’s motivation from widespread doubt, a la himself at Temple or Coach Cutcliffe at Duke…
“There’s no question it provides motivation. But the issue is, you can only listen to the fact that you can’t do that when you go in, but after that, you have to block it all out. If you’re still listening to that - I think this is David’s sixth year - I’m sure he and his team and staff were motivated by that, but they’ve made so much progress over the last two years. He’s been able to stay there long enough to get his system in, to redshirt guys, to get it situated the way he wants it situated. I think he’s doing a heck of a job. They have a lot of maturity, they don’t really beat themselves. Clearly that has provided fuel for them, but I don’t think it’s fuel for them anymore Right now they’re focused on other things, and moving the program forward.

On what progress he has seen Duke football make…
“I think Coach Cutcliffe is a great coach. He believes in what he believes in, and he doesn’t flinch. He stays with his plan methodically. I’m sure when they lost to Richmond a few years ago, everybody said, ‘here we go again.’ He kept pressing forward. He has a group of kids that are bought in, and that’s why they’re playing so well. They’re mature on both sides. On defense like I said - that’s a lot of experience and a lot of maturity. They’re executing really well right now, and that’s why they’re winning.”

On how far he thinks his team is talent-wise from the top-ranked teams nationally…
“I believe that we’re still building, I’ve said that all along - even when people had us ranked higher than we are now. We have a long way to go. Obviously we’ve had some obstacles, but we’re growing, we’re maturing. I feel like the guys are starting to understand the process and starting to really buy into it - physically, mentally, all the elements of it. We’re not where we need to be yet. We’re moving it forward. We’re growing. Our seniors that are with us right now have never been 7-2. They know what we’re playing against this week, we’re focused on Duke. They’re trying to get better. Certainly we want to be able to move the program forward in the coming years. I know the seniors would want to finish with a great season, and all the young guys have a new facility, have a lot of new things going on around here. Obviously the NCAA is behind us now, so they want to push the program forward too. That’s all part of it, including recruiting.”

On if a double-digit win total has become a rallying cry for his team…
“All they’re really focused on is Duke, to be honest with you. If we can’t play in the ACC Championship game, they’re smart enough to say, ‘We better reset our goal,’ which can still be significant. That really has no bearing on their preparation, in terms of Duke, which I think has been good. You get a pulse on it early, and I do, because of my involvement with special teams. When kids come ready, they know their assignments on special teams on Tuesday, I know that’s making its way through the building. I know they want to push the program forward. They haven’t been to a bowl game - seniors haven’t won a bowl game, no one else has been to a bowl game, and all that’s part of it. At the end of the day, they know and we know we’re playing a team right now in Duke that’s playing with a lot of confidence at home, and a very veteran team.”

On his defense of senior quarterback Stephen Morris after Saturday’s loss…
“I’m taking the responsibility for Saturday, not Stephen Morris. I’m directly responsible for the special teams. We fumbled the ball twice and gave them a short field on the other one, that’s like three turnovers right there. They happened in succession, which compounded each time. Stephen, if he was allotted to have 68 plays, would have had his best game of the year. He had 53 plays and scored 24 points against a team that has been giving up 16 points. He had 300 yards passing, which doubles what they’ve been giving up. He was 16-of-27 with five drops. He could have been 21-of-27. He averaged 20 yards per completion. He didn’t have any turnovers.

“I just think it’s unfair, especially given what he has been playing with and dealing with for eight weeks now. Boo me. Be frustrated with me. But Stephen Morris? He’s done everything, including staying and fighting here the last two years. He’s our quarterback, he’s our leader, and he has my support.”

On his defense of defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio…
“I wasn’t listening to the people that loved him then either. It’s always about change. The answer is change. As I said about the beginning of the year, what has changed on defense? It was discipline and making tough decisions not to change, to stay with it and do all the little things.

“Do we need to paly better than we did last week? There is no question. Did we put them in an absolutely – on a scale of 1-to-10 - put them in the worst position they have to be in, as a defensive coordinator? Absolutely, we did that. That’s my responsibility.

“If people are upset with a coach or a position – because we got them all this week, we got every email that you can get – at the end of the day, it’s my responsibility. There’s nothing that goes on in this building that I do not approve, sign off on, co-sign or have input on. I know we have to fix a lot of things. I was as disappointed as anybody in that loss. I’m equally disappointed in the way it transpired. I don’t know if any of that answers your question, but it does give you an idea that it’s really important we continue the continuity, and we just move forward. It hasn’t been easy. It’s really important as a staff and as an organization to push forward. We do have some handcuffs off from a recruiting standpoint for the first time since I’ve been here. My first recruiting class [happened] in six weeks, and there was no one scheduled to visit. The next two years were hell – you guys know it, I know it. We’re excited about moving forward. We have to stop talking about all this other stuff, and get our eyes focused on Duke.”

On the strategy behind building time of possession…
“The compound effect on that is the defense. We’re not getting off the field at the level we need to on defense, and we’re not doing it on offense - three-and-outs have also hurt us [as well as] first-down efficiency. You’re exactly right. We have talked about it, we’re going to continue to improve that, but there is no question we have to do a better job. In terms of getting specifics out of me on that, it’s not going to happen, but understand that we do recognize it’s an issue and it has trickled down to affect time of possession, which impacts the defense.”

On the difficult in preparing for a two-quarterback offense…
“The good news is they don’t change too much when they’re in there. They both can run. Both have mobility, if the pocket breaks down, they can both move and create. They can both move the pocket, sprint, play action. They’ve had success with both of them. All [Anthony] Boone has done since being a starter is win. That’s what he has done. Veteran offensive line up front, two good running backs, [Jamison] Crowder having a great year at wide out with 100 yards per game catching, [Brandon] Braxton another young man around 30 catches. The tight end has done a good job for them. It’s a challenge. All I’m trying to teach the guys is these are one-game seasons. They’re all one game. We have to get locked and loaded on each one of these.”