It's been over 24 hours since the news broke that the University of Miami Hurricanes football team announced that they were self-imposing their 2nd straight bowl ban in response to their ongoing NCAA scandal. "It's been a tough 24 hours," said UM Head Coach Al Golden at his weekly press conference. "I think that our guys have settled in and have a pretty good focus right now on Duke and I think that's important and it's a credit to our seniors and our leaders on the team."
This Saturday, the Hurricanes complete their 2012 season with a road trip to Durham, North Carolina, to take on the Duke Blue Devils. Duke, on a 3 game losing streak and with losses in 4 of their past 5 games, has tumbled from the top of the ACC Coastal Division. Now, due to UM's self-imposed ban, Georgia Tech will be traveling to Charlotte to represent the Coastal. Nevertheless, Coach Golden has his team prepared to take on the Blue Devils this Saturday.
"[Duke] has a tough discipline. Smart team and really experienced. You're talking nine guys on the team with over 30 careers starts... Clearly they have our attention. They've beaten Virginia and North Carolina, our two loan losses on the Coastal side." Duke's offense will definitely be a challenge for the young ‘Canes squad, as the Blue Devils have averaged over 30 points per game this year.
Duke is 5-1 at home this season, with that one loss coming from a 13th ranked Clemson team two weeks ago. Duke's 5 losses, however, have been blow outs. They've lost on average by over 30 points during their 5 losses. Miami, on the other hand, is averaging loss margins by 19 points per game this season. Saturday's game will lack defense by Duke and it'll be interesting to see if Miami's defense continues their upward trend of progression in the finale.
However, one thing that won't be lacking by the Hurricanes this Saturday? Motivation. "I was energized as the coach, as were the staff, by the approach and the overall tenor of the team yesterday," said Coach Golden. "When we broke out here, we watched the USF game and we got ready for Duke for a little bit. It's customary for our guys that we left ‘em here for 30 minutes and then go on the field. As you guys know, my office is by the weight room, and there was a lot of energy there which was a little surprising for me. On the field, the guys came out there to get better and to work and then we had a good practice." This type of excitement coming from such a young team through difficult circumstances is refreshing and exciting at the same time.
Questions throughout Coach Golden's press conference ranged from a wide assortment of other topics. One dealt with freshman running back sensation Duke Johnson. "The thing I enjoy most about him [Johnson] is how humble he is and how hard he works. He loves the game... After the bye week, he's been spectacular, and even in practice, [he's] at a different tempo in the way he's finishing. He's unselfish, he's got tremendous work ethic, and he's just a real humble kid." Another member of the Class of 2016, freshman safety Deon Bush, has also been cleared for Saturday according to Coach Golden.
Going forward with the season and beyond, Coach Golden was very optimistic of the overall path of the program. Expect the Hurricanes in the weight room earlier now that they don't have the extra practices gained from the bowl season. It's been a turbulent season, but finally the ‘Canes can breath as they focus on Duke and ending the 2012 season with their heads up high and the vision of an even greater 2013 season in their minds.