There was a lot of nostalgia at the Hecht Athletic Complex at the University of Miami on Tuesday as players and coaches alike expressed their memories of the outgoing senior class. This Saturday, the Hurricanes take on the Bulls of the University of South Florida in UM's home closer and second-to-last game of the regular season. It also happens to be Senior Day for the football team as well. "The seniors mean everything to this team," said receiver Phillip Dorsett on Tuesday during UM's weekly press conference. "They're the leaders; they've been here the longest. You've got to play a great game for the seniors. We've got to go out there and play our best game." Reiterating the importance of the game on Saturday against USF, Coach Al Golden expressed how USF is no easy task. "[South Florida is] a team that we've gone 1-1 against in the past two games, both games had 3-point margins." Golden also believed that their defense, even for a 3-6 team, should not be taken lightly. "It's an excellent defense, I really do. The inside tackles are outstanding... Good at the run and the pass game."
In regards to the development of the UM-USF rivalry, this is what Golden had to say, "I think it's in its infant stages, in terms of growing. But it feels like that and the guys know each other. They know what they're in for. They know it's going to be slugfest. They know how tough this team is that we're playing and how competitive they are." While UM fans have never truly seen USF as rivals, the narrow defeat in 2010 and the narrow win in 2011 should make fans understand that this game could go either way.
"Our first priority is to get to Charlotte," Golden said in reference to a question about going forward this season. "We have to construct to have the ability to win the Coastal Division. We have to make sure that everyone understands that when you walk into this building, the way out and the way we want to go is first through our division, which we haven't won." Golden also expressed distaste to out-of-conference games this season against Kansas State and Notre Dame. "I would just like to see us play the Kansas State and Notre Dames in Charlotte and in the BCS, not in Week 2 and Week 5."
Beforehand, Offensive Line Coach Art Kehoe, the 28 year veteran with the University of Miami, shared some interesting views regarding the present and the future of the football program. Yesterday, Coach Golden made a comment that it feels like ‘TMZ around here' in regards to all of the drama and press over things not related to football. "You have everything. You have the night culture, the women, the pro culture of sports, etc. You just gotta keep telling em [the players] to stay in line," said Coach Kehoe. Discussing the program since Coach Golden took over, "I think that Coach Golden has done a great job. We've improved dramatically since he's come here." Lastly, yours truly asked Coach Kehoe about how Miami continues to fight against the bigger schools of the SEC and ACC in trying to get recruits and players to our little private school in Miami: "You get ‘em here. Does Tuscaloosa look like Miami? No it doesn't. Maybe they have an edge on us now, but I think that we're going to catch everybody and surpass them. I really do. We're going to get the players and win the games and we're going to do it just like we used to."
Sounds pretty convincing, especially coming from a guy that has been at the U for almost three decades and seen all the highs and lows. Nevertheless, USF comes before those lofty goals and the ‘Canes definitely have a tough one on their hands this Saturday when they face off against the Bulls in Sun Life Stadium.