2015 Miami Hurricanes Fall Camp Quotes – Aug. 7
Head Coach Al Golden
On if his team is significantly bigger than last season…
“We are. We’re bigger and stronger, most particularly on defense. We’re deeper. We have 80 scholarships now, and where that’s showing up the most is on special teams. But with respect to your first question, we are much bigger and much stronger than we have been. There’s a lot of really good competition on the defensive line; Kendrick [Norton] and RJ McIntosh are really looking like they’re going to be able to compete, which is going make us deeper right away – more deep than we thought going in.”
On the difference in mentality between this year’s team and teams of previous years…
“I don’t go backwards. We’re eight months into 2015 now, and I think I’d rather honor what these guys are doing than contrast. Anyone can contrast in hindsight. When you do that, you take away from the investment and commitment that a lot of people made to last year’s squad. It didn’t work out. We made some changes, the staff made some changes, the players made the ultimate changes - the leadership the accountability. We’re setting high standards right now, and the unity is really high. It doesn’t happen if they don’t want to do it. They’re doing it at a high level right now.”
On if this camp (without any distractions) is the ideal scenario…
“I’m excited. That’s it. You guys want to keep talking about the past, but there’s only four months left in this year. I want to enjoy this year. These guys have been working hard since Jan. 12, and given up a lot. It’s a knock-on-wood thing. I say it all the time, I always temper it by saying there are a lot of challenges right now - socially, in the community, and we’re not immune to it. When you do get great leadership, and guys are setting a high standard – we have a saying, ‘the standard you walk past is the standard you set.’ Right now, they’re setting high standards and holding each other accountable. Hopefully we can keep the team mentality, focus on the goal and block the rest out. They’ve done a good job following that.”
On if the pace of practice in the early going is purposely subdued…
“The first two days are always like that. I’ve been places where it’s no pads and they’re smashing into each other - it defeats the purpose of no pads. We don’t believe in that. We slow it down, we teach, and as you guys probably noticed, the only run [play] in there today was a draw [play]. We don’t want to put players in conflict, it’s all pocket passes, basically. Tomorrow when we put the tops on, we go to the run and play-action, and the perimeter game. We’ll put it altogether by practice [number] five or six.”
On what he is looking for during the first week of practice…
“I’m really proud of our guys for the commitment they’ve made. When you come in, and you have all your offense [personnel] and defense [personnel] at your disposal on day one [it means] the kids have made a commitment. They’re allowing us to focus not on behaviors – it’s really the epitome of our foundation. If you’re smart, you’re tough, you’re disciplined and you’re in great condition, you eliminate a lot of the things that cause teams to lose. What they’re doing right now is allowing us to focus on finite details, on really drilling down and refining things. Again, pocket pass and draw, three-step, two-minute [drill], money downs [were the focus] yesterday and today. Next two days are run game and play-action installation. Then on practice [number] five, we put it all together, and we’ll repeat it after scrimmage one.”
On if he is focused on which freshmen can make an early impact…
“They expose themselves pretty quickly. I think what they do is – there’s constant communication - once they identify themselves and present themselves, now we have to get them taught on special teams. That’s the biggest thing – the weight of the special teams – that burden was only shared by very few last year, especially as the injuries mounted during the season. Right now we have more guys, more bodies, more experience.”
On the things he sees differently in quarterback Brad Kaaya as compared to last season…
“I’m positive by nature, so it’s hard to say that at this time last year, there were a lot of questions. He was trying to get in shape, he was trying to learn the offense. If I asked you who you would want the best leader on your team would be, you would say…quarterback. We couldn’t ask him to do that a year ago. He’s gone from being a teammate a year ago, to leading in the spring, to really having a command presence. He’s made that journey. He’s more than a leader right now – he’s a commander. There’s a big difference - command in the locker room, command in front of the team, command at the line of scrimmage. Physically, I don’t think you can compare where he is now after going through the whole weight program. He’s lean, he’s really quick right now, and certainly conceptually he’s on a different level right now.”
On if he has to manage the pressure of a sophomore quarterback…
“Not with him. He’s a team guy. The players know he’s a team guy. No one works harder than he does. No one works harder than he does. He’s humble, he’s hungry, and his teammates know he’ll do anything for them. I think he looks at it more like he couldn’t without Standish [Dobard] or [Christopher] Herndon or Stacy [Coley] Joe [Yearby] or Gus [Edwards], or any of those guys. It’s a good thing.”
On if the lights installed on Greentree Practice Field will be used only on an ‘as needed’ basis…
“We’ll use the lights five times. The biggest thing is, it’s such a stress relief. Not just the physical [aspect], the waiting, the physical toll it takes on you - you warm up, you come in, you come out, you come in – but also the psychological toll on it. Now we get a forecast that’s not consistent with what we need, or we can’t be on the field with, you can send them in and come back at 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock or 8 o’clock at night. That’s a big difference. I think we all know the South Florida weather, and the pattern that’s pretty consistent. If we do get one of those strikes, we just send them in and reverse the order – do your meetings, feed them and then bring them back [outside]. You’re not waiting around for four hours, you’re not going in and out. Every time you make a change, I got 240 people I got to make a change with.”
On what Stacy Coley has done to improve for his junior season…
“You guys say slump, but the next question is, ‘how are you going to replace Clive [Walford] and Phillip [Dorsett]?’ Those guys had a really good year. This kid has worked really hard, and he’s ready for the challenge. Since January, he’s gotten so much stronger, he’s in great condition, he doesn’t miss anything right now, he’s sharp. I’m really, really proud of his maturity and his growth. He’ll get everything that he’s got coming to him. He’s going to have a great year, and he deserves it. He’s really worked his tail off.”
On what he has seen from freshman running back Mark Walton…
“He’s a really serious guy, just a football guy. It means something to him. He’s got great ankle flexibility, which means he can run with his shoulders over his toes almost the whole time – you probably notice [that] just from watching him. So he has great leverage, great balance, he has a physical presence, and he loves the game. He’s not one-dimensional - he can do a lot of different things. He’s one of the guys. We’re very pleased with this group –whether it’s he, I mentioned RJ [McIntosh] and Kendrick [Norton] before, [Sheldrick] Redwine, Jaquan [Johnson], [Tyree] St. Louis – we’re very pleased with this group. He’s certainly going to get opportunities in the next couple of weeks.”
Defensive Coordinator Mark D’Onofrio
How important is depth at the defensive line?
“You want to have depth up front. You want to have guys that can wreck the game up front, there’s no question about it. Every place that I’ve ever been, those are the guys that you’re trying to get. The best thing it does is creates competition. When it creates competition guys cant get complacent, they have to get better every day, they cant just say ‘well I’m going to play. Who else are they going to play?’”
Are the freshmen ready to make an immediate impact?
“They certainly have the ability to. Now whether they have to play or not this year is going to be based on how everything goes. But straight numbers wise, as you look at us now, you could say ‘in another year.’ I could tell you certainly this year they are going to have to earn it and they certainly could.”
What is the biggest change in the defense this year?
“The two biggest things that stand out are the depth at defensive line and safety position. You hear a lot of people talking about wanting to be built strong up the middle and we certainly, with [Raphael] Kirby at middle linebacker and the defensive line and depth at the safety position, feel really good about that.”
Offensive Coordinator James Coley
On Mark Walton
“He reminds me a lot of Joe [Yearby], but he just didn’t have the broken ankle, and he’s a lot stronger than Joe was his freshman year. He’s about 198 [pounds] right now, so he’s not a small running back.”
On his QB unit:
“I like where Brad’s at right now. Brad’s got to continue to be the consistent guy he is every day, because he’s been that. He’s been the same guy every day. That’s really hard to do….It’s hard to be consistent. The great one’s are. That’s what I love about Brad right now. I’m not even talking about his production on the field. I think that he will continue to be that great team leader for us. I think that everybody has confidence in him, he has confidence in his play. He shows that confidence with his preparation to the coaches.”
Have you ever been around another 19-year-old that can handle the pressure as well as (Brad) Kaaya? “Not at Quarterback. I think that quarterback is hard because everybody leans on you, and again, it changes, who you are every day. So, I haven’t been around a quarterback this young who has done it, but I think part of it is the way he grew up. He has got great parents. The other part is [that] he’s a good young man. He makes the right choices, and it allows him to be aggressive with what he wants to achieve what his goals are. So, he’s able to really give what some people may not be able to give because they’ve got all these things happening around them. He’s able to say “my life’s very simple, therefore I can attack my job and be aggressive and work hard.”
Running Backs Coach Tim “Ice” Harris
How versatile can Joseph Yearby be?
“He’s turning himself into an every-down back. From all the things that have been happening this summer to the two days of practice that we just went through, he really is putting himself in position to say that he can be an every-down back.”
How has Trayone Gray improved?
“He improved his conditioning. I think his conditioning has gotten a lot better and he’s gained ground in his strength, his weight and his ability to understand the playbook. Those are things that are going to get him to change overall into what we need him to be, because now he really understands how to study at this level.”
Wide Receivers Coach Kevin Beard
On Braxton Berrios:
“Braxton hasn’t gotten less than an ‘A’ since he’s been in college. He’s going to pay attention to detail, he’s going to know his assignments, and he’s a trustable guy. He’s earned that trust from Brad [Kaaya]. He’s reliable, and it just makes sense to go to the guy you trust. All of the other guys are trying to build that same trust and they are [building it].”
On preparing Stacy Coley to get him back to where he was his freshman year
“We’re just taking a professional approach. He has to be a professional about his business. He has attacked the weight room, he’s eating better and he’s living better. I just think that him being 193 pounds right now just shows the difference. He’s just doing everything that he has to do to be successful, and it’s starting to show.”
On what the players come to talk to him about
“I just talk to them about life. At the end of the day, I just use football to get their attention, to direct them or guide them for life. I’m trying to show them how to take care of each other, so they’ll learn to take care of their wives, take care of their kids, and take care of their responsibilities as adults when they get older. That’s kind of the big picture mindset. Once they see that you care, they’ll run through a wall for you. So, that’s kind of been the approach - to get them to see that and understand that, and it’s been great so far.”
Offensive Line Coach: Art Kehoe
You have a bunch of talented guys upfront, but how do you go from having a bunch of talented individuals to making them into a cohesive line?
“That’s a great question, and really it comes down to just going back to how you start off on the off-season. Making sure that you’re detailing everything you do. Whether it’s in the classroom, when you find out how they learn because some guys learn differently. Whether it’s with video, whether it’s with playbooks, whatever we do. I like the unity of this group, because it really doesn’t matter to me in the offensive Line how one individual plays, it’s always about the group.”
On Hunter Knighton’s progress
“He’s doing a terrific job; he’s competing hard. Thinking about what he’s been through, it’s really a terrific and great story. He’s got all the intangibles. He’s tough and he’s a team player. He works hard and he does a lot of great things.”
Wide Receiver: Stacy Coley
Talk about the depth of players at this position and the players that can make an impact
“We do have a lot of depth from Rashawn Scott, Herb Waters, Malcolm Lewis, Braxton, myself, (Lawrence) Cager and (Darrell) Langham. So yes we fill a lot of the receiving core. We just communicate with each other and try to teach each other through practice.”
When asked explain team goals and individual goals made for this year?
“ The team goal is to most definitely win the coastal. My goal is to help people around me, especially my receiving core around me to get better. So that’s just my main focus right now.”
How do you think the players have been doing with off-field discipline?
“Right now we’re just basically focused on football, so off the field we don’t have a problem. Right now we just stay together, and try to do team functions together. We try to keep everybody’s head focused on the goal that we have and that’s to win the Coastal.”
Linebacker: Jermaine Grace
Describe to me your game? What makes you good?
“Just being able to do my job and my assignment, help the other guys, and listen to the older guys. Being able to take negativity from my coaches and my teammates. They tell me what I should do and what I did wrong and how I can better execute it next time.”
What’s the most important thing on the field you have to do?
“We just have to be able to stay together as a team and as a unit. We also have to compete no matter if we’re down or up in a football game. We have to learn how to not give up and to keep fighting.”
RB Mark Walton
Are you happy with your decision to come to UM?
“It’s an unbelievable organization with a great group of guys, great coaching staff and I have no regrets being here.”
What is your connection with RB Coach Tim “Ice” Harris, who coached you your first couple years at Booker T. Washington High School. What impact did that have in you wanting to come here?
“It was a huge decision, but I am grateful with what I went with. Coach Harris had a huge impact on me.”
DL Chad Thomas
Are you ready to play on a consistent basis this year as a defense?
“Yeah, that’s our job. Our job as a defensive line is to put pressure every play, no matter what we’re doing. We just got to get ready and get consistent.”
Does starting matter to you much this year or not really?
“I feel that as long as I got somebody in there, we’re going to get the job done. This is a team thing, so as long as we get the job done. If I come out starting, that’s good, but I got somebody behind me pushing me and that can help me out.”
DB Tracy Howard
When you’re a senior it’s only natural to put pressure on yourself. What are you hoping for of your last year here?
“Of course you want to do well individually, but we put the team first. We really focus on the team goals. Once you accomplish those, everything just follows along. You’re definitely going to accomplish your dreams and individual goals, once you accomplish the team goals.”
Do the expectations fuel this team in the sense that you want to prove people wrong?
“I don’t really care what other people say. At the end of the day it’s all about how my team feels and what my team wants from me. It doesn’t matter if the media wants me to get 1,000 interceptions. If my team needs me to get three, then I’m fine with that. If I could get two interceptions for us to win the Coastal then that’s what I’m fine with. It’s really about the team. We got fans and we care more about the fans definitely, but sometimes people are going to criticize. We just really focus on ourselves and on the team because that’s what it’s really about at the end of the day.”
WR Lawrence Cager
Do you expect to play this year?
“I expect to play my role. Whatever Coach Golden has in mind for me, just fulfill my role and do whatever the team needs me to do.”
Do you feel like you’re ready to play?
“I think I’m physically ready to play. Coach [Andreu] Swasey and the whole training staff has done a great job getting me bigger, stronger, faster. I think whatever the coaches have me do, I’ll be ready. I came in 6’5” and 198 and now I’m 6’5” and 208.”
What do you think of Brad Kaaya?
“Brad’s a great quarterback. Really, all the quarterbacks are great. Kaaya, he’s the leader so he always know where everyone is supposed to go, where we’re supposed to line up, how deep we are and he always get the ball to you right on point.”
Jaquan Johnson DB
What are your goals for your freshman season?
“I just want to contribute to the team as much as possible. Hopefully I could make some plays on special teams or wherever I’m in.”
Who have you been learning from?
“All the safeties, [Rayshawn] Jenkins, Dallas [Crawford], Jamal Carter and Deon Bush, they’re all teaching me and I’m just absorbing it.”
What’s Coach Golden’s vision for you this year?
“I know Coach Golden wants me to be a big contributor on special teams and that’s what I’m really looking forward to.”