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Published 11/12/2012
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Meet the Press: USF Game

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Head coach Al Golden, selected student-athletes and assistant coaches appeared at the weekly football press conference on Tuesday.

Al Golden Press Conference
USF Game
Nov. 13, 2012

Opening Statement...
"We're preparing for South Florida, a team that we went 1-1 against the last two games, and both games were three-point margins. We're getting them after a bye week.  They lost their quarterback [BJ] Daniels in their win versus UConn, so I don't know what direction they're going to go in at quarterback. Certainly they're going to have time to make some changes and put in some wrinkles for us. We have to be ready and prepared to adjust on the fly on offense. They're very good in the red zone and excellent on third down on offense. They have an explosive element in [Andre] Davis, I think he has six touchdowns and 38 catches, and [Terrence] Mitchell on the other side. They went with the young tight end [Sean] Price last week and he answered with three catches and a touchdown versus UConn. [Demetri] Murray, their tailback, is having a nice year for them, five touchdowns and 476 yards. I think we're weary of their running game.

"On the other side, I think it's an excellent defense.  I really do. The inside tackles are outstanding, led by [Cory] Grissom. They rotate a lot of them through there; he's a load to block. I said this last year about [DeDe] Lattimore and [Sam] Barrington - I think they're excellent. They're physical, instinctive and good in the run and pass game - two young men that have played an awful lot of snaps. We thought highly of [Kayvon] Webster a year ago, and he's not disappointing this year at 62 tackles. Their safeties are rotated down a lot in their zone blitz packages, and in a lot of their quarter packages. They're active and around the football, so we have to make sure we account for them.

"We're expecting a fresh USF team with some new wrinkles and things we're going to have to adjust to on gameday. The biggest thing with our guys is making sure we can be fresh, can prepare and really anticipate for a game that amounts to a physical rivalry year-in and year-out. We have to get ourselves ready to go."

On the potential for future matchups with USF...
"It's going to get a little cloudy in terms of how we manage that. Are we ultimately going to nine games in our conference? What's the alliance with Notre Dame going to bring? Who's going to play them and when? I think it's something we have to continue to look at and identify what direction we're going to go in...We're working right now with Blake to get it ironed out and get it fixed. We'll do a good job with that."

On how to schedule out-of-conference games...
"We have to construct to have the ability to win the Coastal [Division]. I think that's the biggest thing. We have to construct, and we have to make sure that everybody understands that when you walk in this building, the way out and the way to get to where we want to go is first through our division - which we haven't won - and then go to Charlotte. I would like to see us play Kansas State and Notre Dame. In other words, if you're going to play No. 1 and No. 3, let's play them in Charlotte and then let's play them in the BCS game. Let's not play them week two or week five on the road. We're taking ourselves out of the tournament pretty quickly by doing that.  I think it's important we understand that, moving forward. Our first priority has to be to get to Charlotte. Let's all travel, let's go to Charlotte and have a great time. We'll play Clemson or Florida State, or whoever is on the other side. Let's enjoy that. Obviously you go from there in terms of taking the next step. We have a long way to go as a program. I'm no different than you guys...I see what you see. We have a long way to go. I'm dug in; I'm here to fix it. We have a staff that's committed to it. We had 32 young Miami Hurricanes that joined us last year that are making a difference and really joined to be a part of the solution."

On personal memories from Senior Day...
"It's tough. When you return to the locker room, it's over. The anticipation of sharing that moment with - for me it wasn't just my family or mom and dad, but my high school coaches came up - everyone that's been an integral part of your life is there, for the most part. When it's over, you're in the locker room, everyone leaves, and then it's over. There's a finality to it that, unless you experienced it as a player, it's hard. You have to keep those emotions intact and make sure that we control the elements as much as we can, so they can go out and play fast and enjoy it. Not worry about what it's going to feel about tomorrow or that night, just go out and try to concentrate on South Florida and win the game."

On his personal message to the senior class...
"They have an opportunity clearly in this week and the next two weeks to right the ship. Their legacy will be that - that they fought through it. They didn't quit. They didn't leave. They dug in and fought through the tumult, the adversity, when it certainly would have been easier for a lot of them to say 'I'm out of here.' They deserve that. They deserve to finish on a great note, a positive note. They have been through a lot. As a staff we're grateful to them and we appreciate what they have meant to our program, and hopefully they go off on a positive note here."

On Eddie Johnson's expectations in returning to the team...
"There's a responsibility and a level of accountability that we can't move on without. It's not 'do this for me,' (it's) 'do it because the rest of the team is doing it, because you want to be accountable and you want to be responsible and you want to be a good teammate. I've been in this situation before. Hopefully he'll come out of it stronger and respond.  I've been in situations where, two or three years down the road, you look back and say that was a moment I finally realized what I'm giving up or what I'm costing the team. As a coach, you can't look the other way when those types of things are going on. Hopefully he learned from it, but I think the rest of it is in-house."

On Allen Hurns' injury...
"We have a cast on his hand right now. We're protecting it. We'll see how it evolves on Thursday. We want to protect him certainly through Thursday and see if there can be some kind of soft splint or tape job he can go to. He has a little crack and he's working through it in his thumb. It's not in his joint or anything that's career-threatening. He's been cleared to proceed.

"It happened on our first long kickoff run - he had an unbelievable block and finished the play. Then he goes out and catches four balls, blocks his tail off and catches two touchdowns. You have to be tough to do what he did."

On increased suspensions in college football...
"Back in the day you would leave a guy home or leave him off the roster. Now you have access to so much more information, but they're dumb enough to tweet during the game that they're not there. I'm being honest with you - that's what we're dealing with. They don't think that you guys are hooked up to what they're saying on Twitter.

"I will say this, it does resonate and strike a cord with the team when you come in here Monday and Jeff Fisher suspends two guys for curfew violations before their game with San Francisco. They do understand now it's not something that's just in college. You can't operate a team if guys aren't doing what they need to do."

On his 'Twitter policy' with the team...
"Make sure you know you represent the university and our alumni and our administration and our football program. You can lose a lot of sleep in December and January if you are responding - physically or mentally - to everything you read or see. Half of it is not true...The only thing I feel strongly about from a team policy is that this is not going away. It's not going away. You have to teach them how to make good choices, and the responsibility that goes along with it, and hope they make good decisions. I haven't had to pull anybody's social media rights. We're trying to teach them."

On what seniors Brandon McGee and Mike James have meant to the team...
"They've been incredible. Both of them have been very resilient. I was just telling somebody yesterday that Brandon McGee doesn't get enough credit for being the leader he has been. Brandon has always been gifted and fast, he was blessed with raw talent to play the corner position. I think what we're seeing now is that he's a guy committed to working on his tools. He's so much tougher now than he was when we first got here. I think he would be the first to tell you that. He's a leader for us. If you said that to me a year ago, on a scale of 1-10, would Brandon emerge as a team leader or team captain, I would say the answer is 2 or 3. I'm really proud of him. I can't say enough about Mike James, I think you guys know that.

"But there are other guys in there like Davon Johnson. During one of those bye weeks, we were battling 'am I playing favoritism?' and all that. Davon Johnson, to me, is one of the greatest stories of the year - what that kid has done, and his development, and what he's been through. Now he's a guy that goes out there and he's a real contributor, he practices his tail off. I wish I had Davon for a couple more years. Jake [Wieclaw] had a couple bad weeks there, but he's really straightened it out. Other than those two games, he has been fantastic. And [Dalton] Botts is having a great season. There are other seniors, obviously, but those are some of the guys that come to mind."

On the recent lack of playing time for Darius Smith...
"Nobody likes not to play. There are other guys that are playing better than him right now. He has an opportunity every day in practice. I think certainly the emergence of Curtis Porter has taken some of his reps away; Earl Moore and Dequan Ivery have taken some of his reps away. That's unfortunate, but that happens in college football. The only thing he can control is having a positive attitude and going to work tomorrow and hoping to have another opportunity."

On an increase in starters contributing on special teams...
"I see it more often than not. I saw it certainly at Florida State, for two years in a row, we saw it with them. All their starters playing [on special teams]. A lot of guys on Notre Dame that we played. I could go on and on. They don't need to play on three units. If they're a rotation guy, they play on two units; if they're a starter, they play on one. It improves your team. With guys that are covering kicks, you want guys like Denzel Perryman and guys that are trained in tackling and reading ball angles and things of that nature. It really helps you."

On the importance of kickoff coverage and field position...
"It wasn't just that we let [Virginia] on a 16-play drive to lose the game. We had two opportunities to close out on offense and gave them really good field position. That's three weeks in a row. We're working like crazy on it.

"A lot of it is personnel. We've had a lot of changes. Obviously when you lose Deon [Bush] and Gabe [Terry] and guys like that, elite cover guys in terms of speed and strength, it hurts. We've made a lot of changes there. We need some guys to step up and respond - [Raphael] Kirby and people like that...We just need other guys to step up. Dallas Crawford has stepped up. We need other guys to step up."

On Ladarius Gunter's emergence in the secondary...
"There were no corners on the team. It's not like there were some - there were none. He went all over and came back with a really good group. He went all over. We got LG and he's really developed and done a nice job. Most people think he's a junior because he came from a junior college, but he's a sophomore. We're happy with his progress.

"Of course Tracy [Howard] has really grown up the last couple weeks. Antonio Crawford is going to be really good - he's a competitor. After we were watching Plant playing Miramar, we kept saying 'who is this guy covering Malcolm Lewis?' We went up there and got him. I think Nate Dortch is going to be really good. It's a good class - we needed it. We have Nate and Larry [Hope] that are redshirting, so there will be some separation there. Hopefully that group will help us turn the corner. As well as the safeties, I really like our safeties too."

On the play of Curtis Porter...
"He probably played too many plays last week, to be honest. But his conditioning is improving. His attitude has been great. We're really trying to push him to get him basically eight weeks' worth of conditioning in two weeks. I think he'll be better this week. He was better last week, and I think we got to a point where we played him too much. If we made any mistake, it was playing him too much in the game. He is very effective when he's in there. He's a young man that -  if he can just stay healthy and buy into a process with consistency - he can be as good as he wants to be."