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October 1, 2014

Al Golden

AL GOLDEN:¬† We're excited to go to Atlanta on Saturday night, obviously, one of the most historic venues in college football and take on an excellent 4‑0 Georgia Tech team, coming off a bye week and present challenges in all three phases.
We're going to have to play our best game of the season.  Our team knows that.  We understand that, and we're playing a heck of a Georgia Tech team.
Any questions, I'll take them from here.

Q.  In the game versus Nebraska, you guys had a couple of skirmishes, and I kind of noticed that the team kind of came together a little bit, and I noticed versus Duke there was a lot of congratulating of each other.  The team must have a real good chemistry.  Do you think that night in Lincoln the team kind of came together and the fights kind of brought the team together?
AL GOLDEN:  Jerry, to be completely honest with you, I can answer that question after the season.
The team right now has to determine how we want to play the game, and the focus that we want to go into Grant Field with and playing this team because they can beat you in a number of ways‑‑ their discipline, their time of possession is awesome, the third down conversions are awesome.¬† They've got six guys with interceptions.¬† Their special teams are really good.
Again, I think it's a fair question.  I just think time will tell whether or not we're unified and whether or not we're focused and whether or not we're being accountable to each other.  So hopefully, that was a start, to be honest with you, and we'll go from there.

Q.¬† I wanted to start on your quarterback, with Brad and what he's done, 12 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, but didn't have an interception for his first time in this last game.¬† What can you say about how he's coming along and being a freshman but obviously showing success in a 3‑2 start?
AL GOLDEN:  He's our starter, so we don't really think of him as a freshman.  It's going to be important for him to protect the ball against this group because they do a great job with their vision and break and intercepting balls.  They have a down four that can get to you, and they also have a pressure package that has been very successful.
So I don't think there's any question that he's going to have to protect the ball again.  I think he made good decisions, and I think what you could tell the last two weeks, his distribution numbers are up.  The ball's not sticking on the field.  It's not just going to one place.  I think eight or nine receivers the last two weeks, which he's going to need to do against this Georgia Tech defense.

Q.  And then as far as something that Paul Johnson said earlier today, he said, they're going to run the ball, and if Miami can stop the run, they're going to win the game.  How do you respond to something like that?
AL GOLDEN:¬† Nobody runs the ball better than Coach Johnson and that offense.¬† There's no question about it.¬† That's a true statement.¬† We have to run‑‑ we have to stop the run, and we know they're going to run the ball.
But that's no secret.  Everybody knows they're going to run the ball.  They're almost 300 yards a game rushing right now, I believe.  They're 56, the at least, percent on third down, and they're scoring 36 points a game.
I say this with the greatest of admiration.  It's a typical Paul Johnson offense because he gets them to execute at a high level.  They don't beat themselves, and they're tremendous in third down and points, and they always have the explosive plays that go in conjunction with that.
So running the ball is going to be tough.  We're going to have to stop the run, no question, but we can't give them the X plays, to Smelter, and we have to tackle better than we did last time we were on the road.

Q.  Can you talk about the importance of Denzel Perryman and his role in stopping this option offense?
AL GOLDEN:  He's huge because obviously he's strong enough and smart enough instinctively to be an excellent dive and quarterback player.  He's also fast enough that, if the dive and the quarterback are cancelled, that he can get us in the alley and help run down a pitch.  I think that's where he can be very effective.  It can't just be a phone booth for him.  He's got to be able to take care of the dive and the quarterback first but eventually get to the alley and help us on the perimeter plays as well.
There's no question that, between him and Kirby and Juwon Young inside, it's going to be a great challenge.

Q.  Al, last week you finally got the run game going.  Just wondering what was the biggest key for that and how you keep it going.
AL GOLDEN:  We have to keep it going, I don't think there's any question.  I think the week before it was more a function of how we wanted to play the game.  I don't think our yards were high.  I think our yards per carry was good, though, coming out of Nebraska.
So we opted to run the ball more last week.  We like to have more balance, there's no question about it.  Duke was doing good, and we're getting good production from the two and the three running back now, Yearby and Gus.  So I don't think there's any question that the ground game is going to be important against this operation on Saturday.

Q.  Did you guys make more of a concerted effort to get Duke the ball out of the backfield in the last couple, three games?
AL GOLDEN:  I don't know if it's a concerted effort.  I just think we're doing it.  I think Brad is going through his progressions a lot.  It's not as much by design.  It's just that Brad is going through his progressions, and we hit a long one to Joe Yearby.  He was the fifth on the progression.  And we're getting some others to Duke, and he's four or five on the progression.
So I think the young man is going through his progression, and his feet are telling him where to direct the ball.  His percentage is up the last two weeks, and certainly his protecting the football, his interceptions were down last week, which they're going to have to be if you want a chance to beat Georgia Tech at Grant.

Q.  Georgia Tech is known for their triple option offense.  As you said, they were going to run the ball, but Paul Johnson always seems to come up with one of these big wide receivers.  He's got one in DeAndre Smelter, averaging 104 yards a catch.  He's got 10 more catches than anyone else.  How do you game such a big threat like that?
AL GOLDEN:  Paul is one of the brightest coaches I've ever been around.  To me, he looks at it like a chess game.  That guy is checkmate.  If you're in there and you're playing eight, nine man fronts to stop the option, and he needs that pawn, if you will, on the outside, to make you either pay enough attention to him, or if it you don't pay attention to him to make him pay.
He's done a really good job obviously throughout the years in his position and has made it really difficult.  Great deal of respect, A, for Paul Johnson, B, for Smelter and Summers and Waller and I think the other young man's name is Dennis and Jeune.  All of those guys have length.  It makes it difficult down the field.
You've got to play the game with him.¬† You can't give them those explosive plays.¬† But right now Smelter, I think he's been over 300 yards‑‑ excuse me.¬† Over 100 yards three times already, so it's going to be a great challenge.
And they block well.  People forget those kids block really well on the perimeter with that size.

Q.¬† You beat Georgia Tech, I think, five years in a row.¬† Is there something you've always been able to hang your hat on in these games that you've kind of‑‑ that's going to help you beat them year after year?
AL GOLDEN:  I think every game is different, and the only game that matters is this year.  None of the other preceding games matter.  Two years ago up there, we were fortunate to come out of there with a win.  You could look at that and say we didn't really play that well at times in that game, but we came out with a win.  Some breaks maybe thrown our way.
It's not really about the past.¬† It's about the 14 teams.¬† Saturday night in that setting.¬† Obviously, all I can worry about is the 14 hurricanes.¬† I can't worry about anything in the future‑‑ excuse me, in the past.
The other thing with respect to this formula this year is they've had a bye week.  So we're going to see some things we haven't seen, and we're going to have to have some poise and adapt and adjust as the game evolves.  From that standpoint, I don't think last year's game is going to have any bearing on this year's outcome. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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