Head Coach Al Golden
Have you been seeing any separation in freshman yet in terms of how quickly they process?
“I’m extremely pleased with the group in general – very mature group. I think part of that is the leadership we’re getting from [Raphael] Kirby, Dallas [Crawford], Brad [Kaaya], and those guys…very focused. I don’t know if there’s separation, but they’re getting a lot of opportunities. I think you guys know me well enough by now to know that everybody gets opportunities to play at Miami. We don’t just say ‘Hey, this is a locked position.’ They’re getting opportunities, they’re getting a lot of reps, they’re getting on film. So, I think for us we got to see what happens Thursday, when the lights are on and who can react without the coaches.”
How is the offensive line gelling and who’s standing out to you?
“That’s probably the thing that’s most exciting right now on our team. Tyree St. Louis and Tyler Gauthier, from the bottom, are squeezing up and then we’re getting some guys at the top that are really separating themselves and playing better. I think the biggest thing for me is the cohesion of the unit. The cohesion, the communication I think Nick [Linder] is a leader. I think Hunter Knighton has made a big difference in terms of his leadership. Kc [McDermott] and Trevor [Darling], as you guys can probably see them, are leaner and better conditioned. So, it’s a group that is getting challenged every day. It’s going to have a lot to prove on Thursday, but I like the unity and the cohesion and everybody covering people up and being on the right people.”
Can you talk a little bit about the defensive line and what you’ve seen from that group?
“Again, I would say the same thing there. Kendrick [Norton] and RJ [McIntosh] have really started to squeeze it from the bottom up and everybody knows. Everybody knows that they mean business. That’s one contributing factor and then you have the guys that have been here. Those first two layers are really competing and mixing it up. Again, it’s been a good battle up front. It’s been a good battle, it’s been good to see, and we are far from being settled on either side [as to] who the starters are, most particularly on defense. The number of groupings that we have put out there so far -- it’s fun to see.
Defense Lineman Ufomba Kamalu
How are you improving from last year?
“Right now, I have a better get-off. Right now, I have more power in my step.”
Do you feel like there will be an improvement in the defense in general from last year?
“Oh yes, definitely. Just from what I’m seeing, what I’m feeling, there’s been a huge improvement from the way we’re playing and our mentality. We’re a lot more aggressive.”
Defensive Lineman Jelani Hamilton
What improvements have you seen from this defensive line?
“We’re all coming together, sticking together. We’re looking each other in the eye, not downplaying anybody. I think that’s a big thing. We’re holding everybody accountable, too. I think that’s the most important thing and the young guys are stepping up, too, this year. That’s very important. As older guys, we make sure that we get on the young guys every day in practice and tell them that they’ve got to get better. They’ve got to stay in their playbook. When they get on the field, they got to be tough, they got to be physical, and they can’t let off. Just because you’re a freshman, that doesn’t mean [anything]. This is college football. You’ve got to be treated like a grown man now.”
On Coach Andreu Swasey getting everybody in good shape for the season
“Oh yeah, that’s his job. He takes pride in his job and we take pride in him. We look up to him, so we don’t want to let him down in the weight room.”
What are the benefits of redshirting?
“Maturity-wise, you just grow. You just grow as a person, you understand the game better, you see things in a bigger view. Since I redshirted, now that I’m coming back, I feel like I’m able to talk to players more, teach them more, give them more insight and more wisdom.”
Quarterback Malik Rosier
On his relationship with Brad Kaaya.
“It’s something huge just because we both know our roles. Brad is the starter, but he also knows that I’m coming in at some positions. It’s great to know that we can go home together and just sit down and talk about plays and say “hey, when you ran this play, what coverage did you get?” My coverage would be different, so we’ll figure out how they played us and how we can beat it and it just helps the offense out. It makes everything smooth.”
On his role in the upcoming scrimmage
“My role in the scrimmage is to come out like I’m starting. I gotta prepare just like Brad, I gotta prepare just like every other game and just do my role; get the ball in the receivers’ hands or running backs’ hands and see what they can do.”
How does the offensive line look?
“The O-line looks great. There’s a lot of young guys and we got a lot of freshmen with the twos. That’s one thing that sometimes you have to really direct their calls and make sure ‘hey, you got this guy.’ But that’s the big thing. Once they know their assignment, they’re great -- they stay on their blocks and they do a really good job.”
Defensive Lineman Courtel Jenkins
How have you improved since last year?
“I lost a lot of weight. I got faster, stronger, and I’m using my hands more.”
How much better is the defensive line unit compared to last year?
“We’re a lot better. We’re very good. We all use our hands and we’re all playing more aggressive off of the ball. We’re always getting the job done. That’s all that matters.”
Offensive Lineman Sunny Odogwu
How have you changed as a football player?
“As a player, I just put my head down and go to work every day knowing that the coaches have my best interest and the team’s best interests at heart – that whatever they tell us is not going to kill us and is only going to make us better, as a team and as an organization.”
How do you guys work to make sure that communication is not an issue on the line this season?
“Well, we basically, like I told you, we just go to work every day. We try to communicate as a team and listen to each other and listen to the coaches, and pick out the little things because the little things matter the most. If we eliminate problems from the family, there won’t be any problems in the team. As a group, we’re doing all we can to eliminate any communication issues. So, we just try to communicate as best as we can as a team.”
What are your thoughts on Brad [Kaaya] as a leader?
“Brad is awesome. He’s a great leader. Not only that, he sees us as teammates and friends and family, which is amazing, and we see him as a brother, too. We just want close, together brothers and he is an amazing brother.”