Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Al Golden met with the media and gave UM fans some insight into what to expect this Saturday when the 'Canes take on Virginia.
"(We) had a chance to rest up the team and get healthy and get stated on UVA. Clearly the University of Virginia is a different team coming out of a bye week. (They had) 446 yards on offense and 48 carries for almost 250 yards. They did a great job with time of possession. Six sacks and four takeaways against NC State, and they held them to something like 19 yards rushing. They clearly have made some changes.
"I’m really impressed with UVA’s offensive line, especially the tackles and the center. I think the center is as good as anyone we’ve seen so far this year. Two quarterbacks in [Phillip] Sims and [Michael] Rocco. I really think their running back depth is excellent…We’ll see all three of them. We’ll see a number of receivers in the game, and obviously their tight ends are a strength as well. Big, strong, rugged team. They beat us the last two years and four of the last six. Clearly that, coupled with the NC State game, has got our team’s attention. Hopefully we’ll be able to maintain our focus and get ready for a great UVA team in Charlottesville.
"On defense, again, they’re rugged up front…Big and strong and long up front on defense, same as last year….I think we’re expecting the University of Virginia team that played last week. Clearly they had some turnover ratio issues, which had led to some mistakes earlier in the year. But they clearly got that cleaned up in the bye week and looked different last week in terms of how they’re operating."
On leading the Coastal Division:
"This is where you’re either disciplined, and your habits and your process either holds up or cracks. We’re trying to teach them how to make it so habitual, so disciplined and ingrained, that it can withstand anything. For us to want to go where we want to go in the coming years, this is the first step for us. It’s really important to stay focused on UVA and block everything else out."
On Ladarius Gunter and the young DBs:
"He understands the system, and he’s playing with a lot more confidence. I would say [Antonio] Crawford is playing better, Tracy Howard is playing better. That group has to keep moving forward. You could say the same thing with [Rayshawn] Jenkins at safety - he played the most he’s played in the Virginia Tech game and had success. Hopefully those guys will continue to grow as a unit."
On Curtis Porter and the Defensive Line:
"He’s strong. To have a man – what I mean by that is a guy who is strong, he’s mature, he’s physical, he’s stout, he can hold the point of attack, not get knocked off, all those things. At the same time he’s coming back, some of the younger guys are growing up, which is good. You’re seeing better play from Luther [Robinson] or Corey King or any of those guys right now."
On potentially playing in the ACC Championship:
"I hope. That’s part of it. Part of being in the mix towards the end (of the season) should supply you with some energy and should reinforce your focus. We have goals as a team, but our goal right now is to prepare as well as we can, block out everything external and stay focused on the University of Virginia. At the end of the season, this was a team last year that was physical and strong. It’s going to be a great challenge for us."
On UVA QBs Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims:
"I think they’re both good. Obviously they’ve won with both of them. They’re hitting their outlets; they’ll throw it to the two tailbacks out of the backfield…Excellent screen throwers. Not afraid to move the pocket with them, or play action and get a chunk. I’m sure from [Bill] Lazor’s standpoint or Mike’s [London] standpoint they see them differently in terms of how they operate. Right now we’re just preparing for the totality of the Virginia offense, not really just one quarterback or the other."
On Miami QB Stephen Morris:
"I think Stephen is developing every week. He’s getting better every week. We’ve faced some really good defenses and we’re going to face another good one coming up. I think he just has to get back to trusting those around him. Stop looking for the big play, and just hit some singles. The great lesson is the Mike James play on our second touchdown - it’s a one-yard completion that ends up being a 16-yard touchdown. He needs to get back to doing more than that – trusting the guys around him and distributing the football. It doesn’t always have to be down the field. We have enough talent out there that we can get explosive plays without throwing it 50 yards down the field. He just has to settle in. We’re protecting him well. This team will pressure you - last year they got to us, make no mistake about it. We have to protect well for us."
On Mark D'Onofrio and the Miami defense:
"I think you just keep saying, ‘We’ve seen this drill before. We’ve seen this game before.’ And just be supportive. It has not been an easy task. We lost a ton of guys and a ton of experience on defense. The younger guys are starting to grow up, and we’ve gotten the linebackers healthy. Through that time we were down, what – four or five linebackers? How many are we playing now altogether? Seven, or maybe eight? And we had four or five of them that weren’t with us for a while – that was tough sledding there. We didn’t have [Curtis] Porter, we had some other injuries. I think there are some guys that are healthy that are growing up. We’re playing better, but you’re only as good as your next game, and that’s the challenge coming up. These guys are going to try to run the ball down our throat with a big physical offensive line and physical tight ends. We better be ready to tackle really well and hold up at the point."
Please be sure to keep an eye for more extended coverage from State of the U, as we get closer to game day.