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Golden Eager and Optimistic After Fourth Straight Win

Coach Al Golden, in addressing the media on a Sunday teleconference, was happy with how the 14th-ranked Canes graded out after the 49-21 win at USF on Saturday. The Canes also received a clean bill of health and the squad should be at full speed for Georgia Tech at 3:30 on Saturday.

Georgia Tech comes into Sun-Life Stadium with a powerful triple-option offense
Georgia Tech comes into Sun-Life Stadium with a powerful triple-option offense
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Morris is fine and all Canes fans can breathe a sigh of relief.  The veteran signal-caller is healthy and he will be under center on Saturday when Miami opens its ACC schedule against Georgia Tech at Sun-Life Stadium.

"Stephen looked great this morning." Golden said Sunday. "We are pretty clean right now. We came out of it pretty good."

Golden also said that Shane McDermott, Miami's starting center, who missed the last two games due to an injury, would have been able to play against USF if it were absolutely necessary.  Given the fact that it was not, they erred on the side of caution and let him rest for another week.

"McDermott could have played if we needed him to," Golden said.

Golden was quick to praise Jared Wheeler who filled in admirably for McDermott in his absence.

"I thought he played a heck of a game yesterday," Golden said of Wheeler. "He graded out at 94 percent and that is a really high grade going against those guys. He is confident and plays like a starter. I am real excited for him."

Golden is also pleased with how hard the Canes are working in practice and how pushing each other for playing time is something that is making the team better.

"It's great for morale. Everyone is fighting for jobs," Golden said. "Guys are fighting at a level we've never had.  Everyone is excited because they know they will have an opportunity to play in the game."

Golden quickly addressed the two fumbles that Duke Johnson had near the goal line yesterday and said that although it is cause for concern, he does not see it as a problem.

"He knows about it,' Golden said. "It's something that needs to get fixed. We have to learn these lessons while we are winning. We cannot turn the ball over like that deep in the red zone."

Golden said that The Duke made the same mistake last year against USF and that it is inexcusable to turn the ball over when stretching to put the ball over the goal line and not on 4th and goal or on the last play of the half.

"It is just unacceptable," Golden said.

The coach also addressed the two special teams penalties that negated a 100-yard Johnson kickoff return and a long punt return by Phillip Dorsett.

"We've got to eliminate penalties on special teams," Golden said. "We've got to do a better job. I am disappointed because they came from guys that play a lot. It's hard to become "that" when we continue to make mistakes."

Golden was quick to praise punter and kickoff specialist Pat O'Donnell. O'Donnell had some booming punts that gave USF fits all afternoon.

"Pat has been doing a great job for us and we have been letting him down," Golden said in reference to two blocked punts and some punts that were not downed before tricking into the end zone. "We've let him down on some (pooch) punts. We are also pinning guys deep as a result of his kickoffs."

With Miami's first coastal division opponent coming to town this Saturday, Golden is anxious to mix it up with the meat and potatoes of the schedule.

"It's going to be a great challenge. They are a better team than they were a year ago," Golden said. "They have veterans inside who can make plays.  They are an active group."

Golden said that this Georgia Tech team is better than the team that Miami faced and defeated in Atlanta last season.

"There are some very good elements to their offense," Golden said. "They had some explosive plays against us last year and we were lucky to win the game."